Between mid-June and the end of August, Provence becomes irresistible and incredibly charming. During this period, Provence is tinged with purple, in all its shades, from the most intense indigo to the softest lilac.
It is lavender that colours the fields as far as the eye can see and perfumes the air of plateaus and mountains. The extraordinary landscapes of this part of southern France are cloaked in poetry and charm, enchanting visitors from all over the world.
Following a lavender itinerary means going in search of the most evocative views and the most spectacular shots, discovering a purple sea that tints and colours the landscapes. But it is also an opportunity to visit enchanting corners of Provence along the way: from vertiginous gorges set in the mountains to canyons of red earth, from turquoise lakes to yellow fields of sunflowers, from vineyards to the crystal-clear waters of the most picturesque villages, in a succession of farmhouses, perched villages, archaeological digs and ancient monasteries.
To admire the spectacle of flowering lavender in Provence, you can consider several different itineraries.
The itinerary we propose can easily be modified according to your departure dates, the period when the lavender is in bloom and depending on the means of transport you are using and where you are arriving from. In fact, the area concerned is not very large, the distances between the stages are very small and the driving time is short. Consequently, the various stops and the construction of the route can be easily adapted to your travel needs.
The Gorges du Verdon1 is the largest canyon in Europe, stretching more than 25 km. We take the famous Corniche Sublime, a 30-km-long scenic road with vertiginous hairpin bends and spectacular views.
There are plenty of places to stop and photograph the panorama, and although the length of the route is short, it takes a long time. Take your time to enjoy the road, the views and perhaps follow some hiking trails, practice a water sport along the river or take a regenerating dip in the sparkling Lake Saint Croix.
After the exertions of the Verdon you can relax at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie2, a beautiful village perched between two mountain ridges, between which shines a golden star suspended on a thread connecting the two rocky spurs.
Crossed by a babbling brook, the village is full of charm, small craft shops selling colourful ceramics and cosy bistros where you can sample local specialities. Also near Moustiers-Sainte-Marie are sunny mountain lavender fields, made even more enchanting by the mountain panorama.
The Valensole Plateau3 is worth the trip. This is where much of the lavender production of the whole of Provence is concentrated. Between these roads, you can admire the enchanting purple landscapes you have dreamed of. Although lavender is beautiful in every corner of Provence, it is here that you will find the most Instagrammable views, the most photogenic fields, the most colourful and picturesque corners.
The amount of time you can dedicate to this area is very subjective and depends a lot on how many days of travelling you have available: you can do a passing tour with snapshots, or devote a day to taking carefully thought-out snapshots, walking among the rows of lavender and savouring the colourful sunsets.
You can also visit distilleries, experience the Lavender Festival, go in search of typical products made from lavender or visit the picturesque town of Riez4.
From Valensole, heading north, you will find huge expanses of lavender in the stretch between Reillanne5 and Banon6 and along the Albion plateau, between Banon and Sault7.
Sault, in fact, is considered the second lavender capital after Valensole: as many as 100 varieties of lavender are cultivated here. The most fragrant village in Provence is especially famous for its alternating colours: the lavender fields create incredible contrasts with the yellow of the wheat fields and the dark green of the oak forests.
Also worth a stop on the way is Simiane-la-Rotonde8, a wonderful perched village of medieval origin, surrounded by lavender and lavandin fields.
Simply enchanting is the perched village of Bonnieux9, nestled in the plateaux de Buoux, a lavender-covered plain, framed by the splendid view of Mont Ventoux.
Between Bonnieux and Saignon stretches the Plateau du Claparèdes that encompasses a marvellous series of crossroads surrounded by lavender. Still on the road to Saignon, you will see endless lavender fields towards Les Agnels. We recommend a visit to the Agnel Distillery, which dates back to 1895 and distils cypress leaves, rosemary and, of course, lavender.
This area is the quintessence of Provence, containing a charming series of picturesque villages, all within a short distance of each other: Lourmarin, Lacoste, Cucuron, Oppède le Vieux, Lagarde d’Apt . They are small, can be toured in a short time and offer simply delightful corners. If you have an extra day available, we recommend that you include them in your travel itinerary.
From the deep purple of lavender to the fiery red of Roussillon Ochre Trail10: after visiting the enchanting village of Roussillon, you can walk along the path that winds its way through yellow, red and orange quarries, surrounded by a forest of needle trees.
Continue to Abbey of Sénanque11, one of the most representative images of lavender in flower in Provence. The building cannot be visited and you can only take beautiful photographs from the fence. We continue on to Gordes12, one of the most charming and spectacular Provençal villages, whose view enchants visitors: not to be missed.
A few kilometres away are two more enchanting villages that embody the essence of Provençal charm: bubbling canals, colourful markets, shady little squares, old houses.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse13 is the village where the poet Petrarch found the inspiration for his famous poem Chiare, fresche e dolci acque (Clear, fresh and sweet waters ), while observing the Sorgue torrent during his stay.
Also not to be missed is the floating market at L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue14, a charming village with picturesque canals that light up on cool summer evenings.
If you have time to spare, you can also make a diversion to Le Château du Bois Provence15 which houses a beautiful lavender museum and production facility. Or head down to Les Baux-de-Provence16, one of the unmissable stops on a trip to Provence: perched on a rocky spur amidst the Mediterranean maquis, this medieval village is absolutely spectacular.
The itinerary continues north to first visit Avignone17, the city of the popes, with its strong cultural connotation. Lapped by the Rhône River, full of hôtels particuliers, winding alleyways and picturesque little corners, Avignon centres around the marvellous Palais des Papes, surrounded by typical shops and colourful street artists.
We then continue to Orange18, home to the best-preserved Roman amphitheatre in Europe.
Travelling towards Vaison-la-Romaine19, an interesting town of medieval origin, Sisteron20, with its citadel and looming mountains and Digne-les-Bains21, you cross the mountainous area of the Baronnies. Wandering through the valleys, you will find lavender growing up to 1,300 metres, an absolutely unique and special sight.
Halfway between Alpine and Provençal culture, the Baronnies extend over a massif straddling the Drôme and the Hautes-Alpes. This exceptional place boasts unspoilt nature, unique landscapes, a rich architectural heritage and an extraordinary geology and biodiversity.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article