When is lavender in Provence is in full bloom?
And, where is the best place to find it?
Ever since I was little, I've loved lavender, inspired by my Mother's enthusiasm for the heavenly scent and the delicate spikes of purple-blue hue.
I've painted drifts of Hidcote lavender from my garden and pots ladened with French lavender. And, my cottage is filled with more dried lavender than is necessary and tiny bowls of petals laced with Neals Yard essential oil are hidden everywhere.
When lavender blossoms
Generally, the lavender in Provence blooms from the last week of June and peaks in early July. The lavender is harvested in early to mid-August before the monsoon rains come.
You should be able to see the Lavender and Sunflowers together around late July to the beginning of August but, nature has her own timing so it can all depend on the weather.
The best place to find lavender in Provence
My mother stayed in Bonnieux in early June a couple of years ago, and the fields were just about to blossom. This year, we stayed in Roussillon (a striking village in Provence known for its ochres buildings and mineral pigments) in the second week in July – and we succeeded, but only just. The weather has been hot early this year and some of the lower fields had already been cut.
We stayed in Roussillon but there are many beautiful villages in and around the Luberon region. All with their own French charm. Lacoste is beautiful and Gordes is near to the picturesque Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque where the monks have grown lavender since the Middle Ages.
As we explored the region we discovered stunning views everywhere. There are beautiful fields of lavender tucked in amongst the olive groves, fruit trees and vineyards. But, it wasn't until we travelled up a nerve-racking road through the mountains of Lagarde d'Apt to the infamous that we found the transported into another world and the scenery we'd always dreamt of.
Le Chateau du Bois is where the authentic Lavender is grown. This fine lavender is only used in the most captivating fragrances by the finest perfumeries. The pure lavender oil has a subtle aroma that is infused by the unique "terroir" of the soil and remote chalky landscape in which it is grown.
The difference between lavender and lavandin
Genuine lavender, we learned, can only be grown over 1000m (about 3000ft) above sea level. Anything you see lower is lavandin (a sterile hybrid of lavender and spike lavender which has a more astringent aroma). Lavandin is still beautiful and smells divine, but the fine lavender we saw in the mountains has a much more refined and delicate fragrance.
A Captivating Experience
Spending time with my Mother in the lavender fields of Haute Provence will always be one of my fondest memories. Watching her wandering through the fields in her own little world was just lovely. Our time spent there was perfect.
No road noise. No tourists. Just us.
All around were enchanting expanses of the Blue-Gold (as it has been known in Provence for generations), peppered with the prettiest wildflowers, a heavenly aroma, the buzzing of the happiest bees and the sheer delight of the butterflies.
Now I have returned home, I'm longing to paint my experience in the beautiful fields, and I will share them here soon.
If you'd like to see my watercolour and Alla Prima sketches I painted around Bonnieux, plus a video of the lavender fields in Provence please sign up for my newsletter coming out at the end of July (in the box below).