Perfect Picnic Spots in Provence
Ah, picnicking in Provence: what better way to enjoy food than in the fresh air of southeastern France? This part of Europe is regarded by ma...Read more
One of the most famous places in France, Provence is a classicly Mediterranean region. The eager sunlight and the fresh sea breeze create a wonderful landscape to experience. The rolling hills, dotted with iconic hilltop towns are just some of the scenes that greet you in this ancient region. Of course, one of Provence’s key features is its vibrant fields of lavender. The purple carpets that lie over the landscape create a truly stunning sight and are a standout on any holiday here. Many center their entire trip around seeing the often elusive bloom. The captivating colours and alluring aromas have mesmerised the people of Provence and travellers for thousands of years.
Lavender has been cultivated and used for millennia, with many a perfume and scent utilising its aromatic nature. Provence is famous for its perfumeries, with many luxury brands originating in this region, such as L’Occitane. During the medieval period, lavender was even hung above doors to ward off evil. Although this likely started due to its pleasant aroma, recent studies have found that lavender does have antimicrobial benefits. When travelling to Provence these days, there is a bounty of lavender-based goodies to find, from essential oils to sweet delicacies. The flavour of lavender is surprisingly versatile, pairing especially well with pistachio and honey. When dried, the flowers offer an elegant spin to salmon dishes, both in appearance and in their delicate flavour.
Appearing in a relatively short two-month window, it can be hard to plan your holiday with the lavender in mind. As a result, we’ve created the ultimate cycling guide so you can make the most out of your trip to Provence. We’ll tell you when to go and where, so you can be sure you’ll be greeted with the gentle aroma of the violet blooms on the wind as you cycle through this beautiful land. Seeing the fields of lavender is a sight you shouldn’t miss out on. Read on to learn all you need about the lavender bloom of Provence.
When the lavender fields bloom depends on one factor: altitude. The higher up the fields are, the later the bloom will happen. Usually a safe estimate to see the purple fields is July to August. The harvest ends in September, giving you a short window of opportunity to see this gorgeous phenomenon. Often the lavender coincides with school holidays which start mid-July; something to keep in mind when planning your trip. Like the cherry blossoms in Japan, careful planning is often needed to ensure you catch the flowers at the perfect time.
The time of day is also an important aspect of your visit. The blooms are a very popular attraction, meaning that by mid-day the pristine fields can see flocks of tourists taking pictures. To avoid this, we highly recommend an early start, travelling to the fields as soon as possible. When you’re enjoying these gorgeous views all to yourselves, you’ll appreciate that early start. At particularly famous sites, such as the Abbey of Senanque, setting off earlier is crucial to enjoying the blooms, especially in the peak summer months.
As mentioned before, the time of bloom can often depend on the altitude of the fields. Lying the lowest, the Luberon valley is usually the first place the lavender blooms. This happens in June, much earlier than other parts of Provence. This is also before the school holidays start in mid-July, making it very attractive for visitors wanting to escape the summer crowds. Other regions of Provence where lavender blooms include Alpe-de-Haute-Provence, Vaucluse, and Dröme. The landscape of these regions is completely transformed, with a purple glow that blends in beautifully with a blushing summer sunset.
Now that you know loosely where and when the lavender can be found, planning a trip around seeing them is much easier. The best place to see them is arguably the Luberon Valley. The lavender blooms here first in late June before the other fields, so you can fully enjoy the scenery without the crowds brought on by the school holidays. On our Picture Postcard Provence cycling holiday, the route on day 3 takes you through the Vaucluse and Luberon valleys. This is your best chance of seeing the lavender blooms as both these areas have sprawling fields. Not only this, but their fields flower at different times due to their different altitudes. This gives you an even longer window to see the lavender.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape boasts some of the most beautiful lavender in Provence, found in the Vaucluse region. The blooms here begin in early July which is slightly later than those found in the Luberon. The town, though beautiful in itself, is mesmerising during mid-summer thanks to the violet blanket that surrounds it. The charming streets are perfumed with lavender, creating a wonderful atmosphere to experience. Here, you’ll find shop vendors selling all kinds of lavender. On Day 3 of our Avignon and Côtes du Rhône tour, you’ll get the chance to visit here as you cycle from Mazan, exploring fortresses and cafes on the way.
One of the most photogenic and iconic sights in Provence is the Abbey of Senanque. Featured on countless postcards, the monastery is a major tourist attraction, especially when the lavender blooms. Lying in the Vaucluse Valley, the bloom tends to coincide with school holidays. As it’s very popular, you can expect large crowds to gather. To avoid this, an early start is key. On day 5 of our Provençal Discovery tour, you’ll cycle from Roussillon to Mazan, passing by these famous lavender fields. If you’re there early enough, the pictures you’ll capture will be truly wonderful.
For more information about seeing the lavender in Provence, give us a call on 020 7471 7760, or alternatively, view our Provence cycling holidays here.Cycling tips for beginners
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