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Aah lavender… it’s hard to say what the colour purple means to me. It makes me sneeze (why hay fever, why?!?!), it makes me feel like a princess (because what girl doesn’t like purple when they’re young?) and it’s romantic (yes, frolicking with my husband in fields of purple flowers is the epitome of romance to me).
Either way, it has been on my bucket list since as log as I can remember! So needless to say I was thrilled when we boarded our plane and headed to the south of France to see those waving fragrant fields of purple. Aix-en-Provence and its adjoining plateaus are home to rows and rows of lavender fields and the perfect launching point for an easy day trip!
Visiting lavender fields in the Provence
Where to see lavender fields in the Provence
The Provence is a historical rich region in south-eastern France and has always been synonymous to lavender in my head. The dusky aromatic purple flower fields are so characteristic for French summer that it has very much become my number one dream destination in Europe.
The majority of the lavender fields of Provence are centred around the Luberon and Verdon plateaus to the north of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, and to the east of Avignon. If you’d like to visit the fields, we’d recommend renting a car to get around. We made Aix-en-Provence, France our home base while we were in Provence, and from there we planned day trips in search of Lavender.
L’Abbey de Senanque – The spectacular but very popular abbey (rightfully so) is definitely worth a visit. If you’re daydreaming about the monks lovingly growing lavender in the backyard, you’ve come to the right place because this actually happens! Note that you cannot walk through the flower fields at the abbey, they’re only to admire from the paths.
The facilities of the abbey aren’t really equipped for receiving busloads of tourists and the crowds can be quite horrendous, negatively impacting your experience. To avoid this, try to come before 9am or after 7pm and combine it with a visit to nearby Gordes or Roussillon.
Plateau de Valensole – Lavender farms and distilleries are peppered across the Valensole region and welcome you to visit their fields. Many of them sell their own Provence lavender products like essential oils, scented waters, soaps and if you’re lucky lavender ice cream (yum!). One of our favourite fields were located along the Route d’Oraison but you can find plenty between the villages of Riez, Valensole and Forcalquier. At Riez, you can also see the remains of the 1st century AD Roman temple dedicated to Apollo.
Sault-en-Provence – Probably the most off beat of the three locations, the roads above Sault will have you indulge your love of lavender in peace and quiet. Sault is located at 776 meters above sea level so it offers you gorgeous panoramic views over lavender fields below, but it’s a bit further from Aix-en-Provence though. Do note that because of its higher location, blooming season in Sault is a bit later than in the Valensole region. If you’re up to take a detour towards Gordes or Roussillon, you can drive from Sault along the D943 and then the D230 past a plethora lavender fields.
When to see lavender fields in the Provence
Lavender starts to bloom around mid to end June until it is harvested end July to mid-August. The lavender blooming depends on the weather conditions, the variety and elevation. Generally speaking though, the best time to go to the Provence to experience the lavender in full, glorious scented bloom is between end-June and end-July.
If you don’t like the crowds and you want your lavender exploring to seem exotic, go before mid-July. True, the prime blooming for the lavender starts mid-July but that doesn’t mean you don’t get purple and blue hews earlier. For example, 2017 had a warm start temperature wise, all flowers worldwide started blooming a bit earlier and we were able to see lavender in full bloom at the beginning of June.
Our recommendation for a “normal” year visiting lavender in the Provence would be the last part of June – right before the French are on holiday and most tourists arrive for high season.
How to get to the lavender fields in the Provence
The best way to plan your journey from Aix-en-Provence, Marseille or Avignon is by renting a car. It will give you the flexibility you need to visit the fields of your liking and to stay as long as you want, e.g. to catch the sunset.
Once you arrived at any of the locations, you can easily park on the street or in a nearby town to visit the fields. We wouldn’t recommend taking public transport but to rather book a tour, like this one from Aix-En-Provence or this one from Marseille, if you’re not up for renting a car. You’ll be traveling through more rural parts of the Provence and public transport isn’t that frequent and won’t stop directly in front of the fields, meaning you’ll probably have some walking/hiking to do and won’t be able to cover multiple fields in a day trip.
Where to stay in the Provence
We chose Aix-en-Provence as our launching point for several daytrips and stayed at the most amazing Airbnb, Maisonette Les Spirous. If you are thinking about signing up for Airbnb, use this link to save $40 on your first rental.
If you fancy a luxury experience, take a look at these amazing hotels: La Coquillade, Le Mas De La Rose or La Bastide du Tinal.
Bring a picnic and enjoy a day beneath the sun and amidst the fragrant flower fields of southern France. If you have a few more days to spare, don’t forget to read our guides to Gordes, Roussillon and the Gorges du Verdon. All possible day trips from Aix-en-Provence, Marseille or Avignon!