Lavender and Provence are inextricably tied together in the minds of almost everyone who yearns to visit—and revisit–Provence. What comes to your mind when you think of Provence?
Someday I will survey people about the images “Provence” conjures up. But, in the meantime, I’ll put my euros on lavender as the first image that pops into the minds of most people.
Rosé wine, pastis, truffles, bouillabaisse, markets, the slow pace of life, the mistral, and Cézanne—all certainly contenders, but, to paraphrase France’s well-known author Jean Giono, it’s the lavender that taps into the soul of Provence. Or, as the well-known English writer Peter Mayle wrote, perhaps less romantically but no less persuasively, “Where would the postcard business be without it?”
Questions about lavender are almost always the first to surface in any conversation about traveling to Provence. Just two days ago, while buying some Provence rosé in New York City—more on this very special rosé in an upcoming blog–I chatted with the congenial sales staff at Morrell Wine Store about Provence rosés. But once I mentioned that I write about traveling to Provence, the first words of one of the friendly clerks was: “Oh, I would love to go to Provence to see the lavender.” The day before that, I answered a telephone call about traveling to Provence. “When should I travel so that I can see the lavender?” was the first question. “I’ve been to Provence before, but I have never seen the lavender.”
To see those perfectly aligned rows of brilliant purple lavender grace the hillsides of Provence, maybe dotted with a borie or two, is an exquisite sight. The scent that wafts from the field is incomparable. If you are lucky enough to time your visit to see the sunflowers and lavender together, you will feel blessed by the gods.
Alas, we can’t all visit Provence in July. Late June through early August, when lavender is most likely to be in bloom, is also when the airlines hike their prices and when accommodation can be tough to secure. So consider spring. That is, now!
May is a glorious time to be in Provence. The sun is bright, the days average 70 degrees, the markets are coming to life, and then there are those dazzling bright orange poppies that are, well, popping up everywhere.
You may also be interested in reading these posts about lavender: