• Fokke Baarssen

5 days in the Provence France


My wife with hat and dress at the Lavender fields during sunset

Thinking about the Provence and what comes to mind?

Fields of lavender, sunflowers and olive trees?

A slower pace of life.

A Sunday lunch under the shade of plane trees in a village square.

A café crème at a sidewalk café.


Wondering how to see the lavender fields in the Provence?

For only about 1,5 month every year, the rolling hillsides of the Provence region in France are covered in breathtaking rows of bright purple lavender.

I Always dreamed about a visit to the lavender fields. Every year around this time we are to busy traveling somewhere else to visit this beautiful area, so this year we make some time to visit the lavender field of the Provence we fly to Marseille picked up a rented car and here we go.

Sénanque Abbey Provence Lavender fields

Sénanque Abbey Provence Lavender fields

Our first stop is Gordes a small hilltop village in the Provence, stayed at Hotel Les Bories & Spa, Gordes

Located in Gordes, in the Luberon, the Hotel Les Bories & Spa is a 5-star hotel which offers a 300sqm, Spa, 2 swimming pools and a Michelin-star gourmet restaurant and big rooms with a bed you can sleep forever.

Unfortunately, we do not have much time here to enjoy this Paradise. We stay here because it's not so far from the amazing Senanque Abbey and of course the village Gordes, so a perfect place to discover this area.


Hotel Les Bories & Spa

Hotel Les Bories & Spa

We visit the village Gordes and walked around for a couple of hours,its just a beautiful cozy village.Great to see all the viewpoints from the hill and the colorful Streets with shops and restaurants, be sure when you need some dinner in the evening you make a reservation, the most restaurants here are closed between 17:00 and 20:00 and there are not many other places to dinner so be aware of this.


This ancient village stands on the edge of the plateau of Vaucluse, facing the Luberon valley. It has been voted one of France’s most beautiful villages. Its houses and buildings made of white stone are rooted into the cliff of a mountain, making it one of the most well-known hilltop villages in the region.


Gordes viewpoint

Gordes

Street view Gordes

Lavender shop with soap

Castle Gordes

During sunset we visit the Abbey the most lavender field here not blooming anymore i think the fields here are blooming early in the season, but still a lot of colors.

We loved the sunset here and go back to the hotel for dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening with wine and beer under the stars in front of our room.

The next day we had a lovely breakfast with some home made French Baguette, enjoyed the morning by the pool and just relax here. In the afternoon we drive around looking the lavender fields and shoot some pics here.


Lavender field Provence

The next day we got up early and drive to Valensole the center of the Lavender fields.

Around Valensole you will find the most lavender fields i think.


You’ll need to hire a car or take a tour to see the lavender in all its gorgeous glory and there’s nothing quite like standing in a lavender field, the sun beating down, the air thick with the scent of those gorgeous flowers…


The map under indicates where around the Luberon you will find concentrations of lavender fields: on the high plateaux around Sault, at the foot of the Mont Ventoux, and around Apt and Gordes.


We drive all day around on the Valensole plateau and just loved it here. Get away from the crowds and head to the roads above Sault. Where you can indulge your love of lavender in peace and quiet apart from the sound of goats and sheeps wearing little bells as they frolic in the fields.


When to visit?

July is usually the best time to visit.

In the Luberon and the Rhone Valley regions, lavender begins to bloom mid-June.

The Valensole plateau and Drome Provencal begins around the beginning of July, and the area of Sault begins blooming mid-July.

The main lavender fields of Provence are centered on, and to the north, of the Luberon and Verdon plateau regions to the north of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, and to the east of Avignon.

The map here will give you a general idea of the best areas.


Valensole plateau

Where to stay?

Avignon, Aix en Provence, and Luberon are all wonderful towns to stay in if you are looking to be close to the lavender fields


Top things to do and see:


1. Be amazed by the lavender fields of Provence

If Provence could be characterized by one scent, it would be that of ‘lavender.’ Soaps, food products.. Endless seas of lavender fields can be found throughout the Provençal region and are best seen in mid-summer when the blooms are at their best and the sweet smell is at its strongest.

Indeed one of the most visited monuments in Provence is L’Abbey de Senanque, a stunning abbey made famous by its outlying lines of lavender. These rows must be visited at sun-up or during sundown for the best lighting in photos, and to ensure the fewest number of tourists around. In other parts of Provence, Sault is the capital of lavender, and the Luberon region also offers plenty of locations to enjoy the lavender fields.


2.Senanque Abbey A gem of Romanesque art

Notre-Dame de Senanque is a Cistercian abbey near the village of Gordes in the department of the Vaucluse in Provence. The Senanque Abbey was founded in 1148 under the patronage of Alfant, bishop of Cavaillon, and Raymond Berenger II, Count of Provence, by Cistercian monks who came from Mazan Abbey in the Ardèche.


Senanque Abbey

3. Visit the small village on the hill Gordes

Built on the foothills of the Monts of Vaucluse, facing the Luberon, Gordes is one of the most well-known hilltop villages in the region, and one of the most beautiful in France. Its houses and buildings of white stone root themselves into the sharp cliff of the mountain, its labyrinth of "clades" (narrow cobblestone streets) do not leave the visitor indifferent to its charms.

Many artists have stayed in the village of Gordes and have contributed to its fame. Some, such as André Lhote, Marc Chagall, Victor Vasarely and Pol Mara came to stay. Gordes is the seat of many cultural events in summer with its museums, a festival, concerts, and numerous exhibitions.


Gordes


4. Visit the city of Avignon

If you are coming to visit Provence, don't stop in Avignon!

Once here, like a siren, the city will entrance you and you won't want to leave!

And just to see the sights, you can spend days wandering the neighborhoods within the city walls and never get bored.

Avignon is full of history and full of life.

The capital of the Vaucluse and the Côtes du Rhône, the seat of the popes and city of art and culture, theatre, cinema, museums, big stores and little shops, Avignon is a small city that has everything a big one has, and then some...

From medieval streets and houses to private mansions from the Renaissance, passing through all its old and enticing squares, some no bigger than a tiny lane…


5.Valensole the center of the Lavender fields

Set on its plateau, Valensole is a picturesque town on the northern edge of the Verdon Regional Nature Park.

With 300 days of sunshine a year, Valensole is true to its name: it comes from the Latin Vallis and Solis and means valley of the sun.

The medieval village is built like an amphitheater on the side of a hill overlooking a small river valley.

The streets and alleys snake their way up to the 11th century St Blaise church with its immense bell tower at the top.


Valensole Lavender fields

6.Valensole plateau

The Plateau of Valensole is famous for its lavender and truffles. Covering approximately 800km2, this plateau is the biggest area in France devoted to growing lavender and the blue, violet and purple-colored fields stretch as far as the eye can see.

The blooming period from mid-June to mid-July is an explosion of colors and the inebriating scent fills the exceptionally pure air of the region.

During that period, the Tourist Office of Valensole organizes guided tours on the theme of lavender.

And throughout the year, the distilleries welcome you to visit their lavender farms and discover the steps in the distilling of lavender, from the gathering of the flowers to the stills to the packaging.

Some, such as the Ferme du Riou, still today use the most traditional of techniques.

Each year on the 3rd Sunday of July, the town of Valensole organizes its Lavender Festival.



7.Sunflower fields

This time of the year you will pass them on the road everywhere so why not take some pics here , they are a perfect photo background. They aren’t as plentiful as the lavender fields in this region but you can still see them in full bloom around this time.


Sunflower field Provence

8. Visit the ancient port city of Marseille

Inhabited for millennia, the port town of Marseille is one of the largest cities in France (the second largest, after Paris, to be precise). As a result, Marseille has seen its fair share of history over the years. Highlights of the city include hiking up to the church which crowns the highest hill of the town, a chapel dedicated to Notre Dame de la Garde. Another is visiting the old port (an area used for imports for over two millennia), as well as wandering around Le Panier neighborhood.


9. Enjoy the many quaint villages and towns of Provence

Elsewhere in the South of France, there are plenty of other towns and villages to explore. Many of which, unlike Saint Paul de Vence, haven’t been ‘discovered’ by tourists yet. As a result, these hidden Provençal gems are filled with authentic eateries, local history and none of the tourist traps you would expect to find in more popular places.


10. Sample local food and drink!

One of the very best things to do in Provence is to enjoy its Mediterranean cuisine fused with French tradition. The result of this marriage of foods comes together to form a beautiful blend of sea-inspired cuisine.

Head to Provence and you can expect to find plenty of olive-based dishes and all the fish plates. For those who don’t eat meat, then there’s plenty of sweet treats on offer (don’t leave without sampling lavender-flavored ice cream!). When it comes to beverages, wine aside, pastis, an anise-flavored spirit, also originate in the region.


Lavender field Valensole


Woman hand with lavender field


Photography tips:

Shoot in the early morning or evening to find the best light.

If you want to photograph the lavender fields in is full glory and get the colors like you see on all the pics on the internet you need a lower sun to pop up the colors.

Since it’s summer and daylight savings time it doesn’t get dark until at least 9 pm so you have plenty of time to do your shoot!

Another thing to be aware of is the bees. Thousands of bees buzzing and swarming .If you ignore them and leave them alone, they leave you alone too.



Senanque Abbey A gem of Romanesque art

My wife in a Grape vineyard

Senanque Abbey A gem of Romanesque art

My wife having fun with hat

Flying home

Thanks for reading and bye bye








sources: www.avignon-et-provence.com/


#Provence #Travel #France