Uncover the beauty of Provence with Jeremy Flint’s photo guide to the best places to see lavender in the region.
Nestled in a picturesque corner of the South of France that borders Italy and the Mediterranean sea, Provence is a truly delightful place. It has long attracted visitors with its warm sunny climate, great gastronomy and scenic lavender fields. The lavender fields have become an icon of the area. They are now a tourist attraction in their own right drawing visitors from all corners of the globe. Every June and July, the region becomes ablaze with fragrant lavender fields. There are swathes of purple carpet the fields as far as the eye can see. The captivating beauty of the lavender fields makes Provence a photographer’s paradise and a popular region to visit during the summer.
In this rural, idyllic region of diverse landscapes and stunning hilltop villages, the lavender fields take centre stage. Lavender has been an important crop for the people of Provence for centuries. Much of the lavender is distilled for essential oil and fragrant water. The plants are also dried and added to scented objects such as soap, perfume, honey, tea, ice cream, scented packages and natural cosmetics.
Photo guide to lavender in Provence
There are many wonderful locations to visit in the region. This photo guide highlights the best places to see and capture the lavender in Provence – plus its most impressive sights.
The Plateau of Valensole
Situated in the heart of Provence, the plateau of Valensole has picture-postcard views of lavender fields at every turn providing some of the most beautiful landscapes in Haute Provence. It is simply the stuff of dreams and an area that has captured the imagination of artists and photographers for years. Situated at an altitude of 500 metres in the south of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence between the Luberon and the gorgeous Gorge du Verdon, Valensole is dedicated to the cultivation of lavender. Rich in luxuriant lavender fields, their sight and smell is truly enchanting and worth exploring.
The road from Valensole to Manosque provides some of the best photo viewing spots as many lines of lavender come into view. There are some wonderful scenes to shoot and the lavender farms of Lavandes Anglevin and Terraroma are great to visit too.
Another great spot for capturing the blossoming lavender is along the road heading north-east from Valensole where an old stone building can be found. The structure looks great surrounded by the flowing lavender and mountains. Follow the road all the way to Puimoisson where during summer you will find even more lavender fields. The flowers in full bloom can be a magical spectacle and are incredible to witness, especially as the sun casts its rays on the scene and the play of light transforms the sea of purple.
The Luberon Massif
Besides Valensole, you will find a variety of other attractive lavender fields in Provence.
The Luberon Massif is named after a mountain range that runs east-west between Cavaillon and Manosque. This Provencal patchwork is home to miles of fragrant lavender fields, hilltop villages, vineyards and ancient abbeys. The spectacular natural park covers some 600 square kilometres. And it’s here where the best lavender fields can be viewed from Avignon towards Gordes.
Near Gordes the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque offers an iconic lavender scene. Built in the 12th century, the Abbey is a sublime example of the region’s architecture set in a stunning woodland valley. The graceful Cistercian Abbey makes a magnificent backdrop to the lines of lavender grown and harvest by the resident monks. Aim to arrive early or late in the day to avoid the crowds of tourists. Combine your visit with a wonderful trip inside the abbey’s cloistered interior whilst marvelling at the incredible lavender that surround its grounds.
Gordes itself makes for a fantastic scene. The spectacular hilltop village juts out of the white-rock face of the Vaucluse plateau. The medieval village is another of Provence’s quintessential sights. Rearing up high on the slopes it has a labyrinth of winding roads and cobblestone paths at its core.
Pays de Sault
Directly north of the Luberon natural park, the Pays de Sault is a great place to see lavender without the crowds and heat of Valensole. Attractive villages and beehive shaped bories (traditional dry-stone structures) blend perfectly with the lavender fields. Nearby the area around Apt and the valley at the foot of Mount Ventoux offer colourful shades of purple.
Beyond the lavender fields, other highlights of the region include the gorgeous gorges and canyons. Few sights match the impressive Gorges du Verdon, also known as the Grand Canyon of Europe with its jaw dropping beauty. Situated in the Verdon natural park, it is a haven for adventure seekers. There are incredible views of the plunging gorge to the Verdon river snaking 600 metres below. Hikers, bikers and rock climbers seek out the best trails and craggy mountain peaks to summit. Whilst thrill seekers find solace canoeing on the water as birds of prey including vultures circle overhead.
The town of Valensole is a great place to visit. Its lively weekly market is packed with stalls selling local specialities including olive oil, honey and lavender. There is also a wonderful old fountain and array of shops, restaurants and cafés in the centre.
Rougon and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Don’t miss the spectacular hill-top villages synonymous with the area. The charming hilltop village of Rougon offers charming buildings. It has commanding vistas of the Gorges du Verdon snaking off into the distance. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie Is one of the region’s most beautiful villages. It was founded by monks that dates back to the 5th century.
The lavender fields of Provence are best explored by car as the locations are quite some distance apart. There is a fast TGV train from Paris to Avignon, and airports at Avignon, Nimes and Marseille from where you can hire a car.
Jeremy Flint is an award-winning professional photographer and writer specialising in travel, landscape and location photography. His work is published extensively in National Geographic Traveller Lonely Planet and Country Life amongst others. He is a five-time finalist in Travel Photographer of the Year, Association of Photographers Discovery Award Winner and National Geographic Traveller Grand Prize Winner.
Lavender fields and photography tour
One of the most wonderful ways to see the lavender fields is to take a tour with Your Private Provence. Emily Durand hosts small group tours that take you to the heart of the lavender fields when the blooms are at their most stunning in July. Discover the Provencal lifestyle, gorgeous villages, scrumptious gastronomy and fabulous wines. Plus renowned photographer Raina Stinson will be on hand to show you her top tips for taking the most beautiful photos in the lavender fields. It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about photography, use a mobile phone to take photos or a camera. You’ll definitely go home with memories and souvenirs you’ll never forget as your photos tell stories without words. Find out more and book your spot on this unique and truly special tour: ProvenceLavenderPhotographyTour
Find out more about the lavender fields and Provence at Provenceguide.co.uk