Lavender in Provence
When one envisions Provence, they often picture vineyards, sidewalk cafes and sleepy villages whose residents enjoy a slower of pace of life. Provence is all of that and more. Enjoy long, leisurely lunches under the shade of ancient oak trees, quiet walks along cobblestone streets, and visit peaceful villages with friendly, welcoming locals. The food, the wine, the atmosphere – there’s so much to love about this beautiful French region. Spring is a lovely season to spend in Provence, enjoying the abundant sun without the sting of the summer heat. One of the best reasons to visit Provence in the spring is that it’s when the brilliant fields of lavender are in full bloom.
The vibrant colors and heavenly scent of lavender have made it a favorite plant the world over for hundreds of years. In fact, harvesting of the plant has been done since the 16th century, back when it was all painstakingly picked by hand. There are a number of different varieties of lavender found throughout the world, with the Provence variety boasting a rich purple color and growing to around 2 feet in height. Its flower wand is long and slender, and the buds are easily removed from the stalk making it ideal for dried bud collecting. To this day, some rows of Provence lavender are still picked by hand, keeping long-held tradition alive.
When to See It
The lavender that grows in Provence typically blooms from late June through August. Depending on the region, harvesting is usually done from the middle of July through late August. If you’re planning to head to Provence and would like to enjoy the magnificent lavender when it is in full bloom, your best bet is to plan a visit sometime between mid-June and mid-July, as that is when the flowers will be most vibrant and fragrant.
Aside from looking and smelling beautiful, lavender also has many practical uses. It can be used as an ingredient to add a floral, slightly sweet flavor to dishes. Many of the local Provencal shops feature a variety of lavender products for sale, such as dried lavender, soap, perfume and even lavender honey. There are also a number of festivals dedicated to the flourishing plant which are typically held in July and August. Festival attendees can purchase soaps, essential oils, dried bouquets, lavender honey and a number of edible treats including mouthwatering lavender crepes.