You can’t go to Provence and not visit lavender fields. And even though the Valensole plateau is easy to find, it’s not easy to find just the right lavender field.
Before going on any trip, I always do some research – it gives me a feeling of excitement and anticipation. Our stop to see the lavender was a part of a 10-day road trip in France. Before the road trip, I made a list of things I wanted to see. The lavender fields on Valensole Plateau in Provence were one of those things. We missed our planned hikes and plane tour over the Alps in Annecy. We sort of wasted our time in the Palace of Versailles, so I was hoping the lavender fields of Valensole Plateau were going to be the savior of my road trip.
I dreamt of the sight of the beautiful purple fields as far as the eye could see. I dreamt of the air filled with a lovely scent of lavender. I imagined being a model in my own photoshoot. I saw myself “run” through the fields wearing a beautiful long summer dress, wind in my hair, and my husband patient enough, taking hundreds of shots, to get that perfect one. Every time I think back to that day I always smile.
The location of Lavender fields in Provence
Lavender fields in France are located in Provence, on the Valensole Plateau that stretches over an area of 800km2 covered with beautiful purple flowers. The Plateau is situated in the south of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and near the Verdon Gorges – France’s Grand Canyon. There are several charming villages that you can visit on a day trip while you are visiting lavender fields. If you are staying in the South of France in Aix-en-Provence, you will have the perfect base for your exploration of the whole area of Provence, Lavender Fields and Gorges du Verdon. Aix-en-Provence is located only 45 miles (70 km) away from the fields. You will get to Aix-en-Provence by car or train from Paris or fly into Marseilles.
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Main lavender fields of Provence are centered on and to the north of Luberon, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille, and to the east of Avignon.
I was so excited to see the lavender fields and had such high hopes. There was not easy to find useful information on the fields’ exact location. We set our GPS on Valensole and set off from Annecy and over the Alps. We drove for about 4 hours, including one quick stop, in bad weather. Coming over the Alps down to Provence, seeing sunshine made me feel like a little kid before her birthday. We didn’t exactly know where we would end up, but I thought we would figure it out when we got there. I knew we would find some fields because we were in Provence in the middle of the blooming season.
Map of Provence
On this map (which took me a looot of time to make) I marked positions of some of the most Instagramable spots on the Valensole Plateau.
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Best time to visit lavender fields in France
The blooming season of lavender fields in France is from June to August. The best time to see these purple endless lavender fields blossom will vary slightly from year to year and will depend on rainfall and temperature. Word of caution: it is the hottest and the most crowded season. I recommend you visiting the fields just after the bloomings start, towards the end of June, and just before the end of the season, beginning of August.
There are many lavender festivals in Provence during the blooming period. Most of them are one-day events. The theme is lavender, and there’ll be a vast amount of locally produced lavender products to sample and to buy, but you will also experience local traditions like food, folk music, and arts & crafts.
Provence is known as the most beautiful region of France. You can visit many charming villages, the national park Gorges du Verdon (among several) – French Grand Canyon, lavender fields, sunflower fields, and an active monastery. The charming small medieval villages “hanging off” the mountain cliffs are screaming for your attention. The purple and yellow colors of blooming lavender and sunflowers will take your breath away. National parks with mountain lakes, mountain viewpoints, and fantastic nature will leave you in awe. I hope you set aside a few extra days to explore Provence because you will either regret that you didn’t or you will have to go back.
When I did my research, I found so many beautiful images of the lavender fields on the Valensole Plateau on Instagram. I had my camera ready and I was almost shaking with excitement, as we got closer to the destination. I imagined all the beautiful pictures I was going to take and show my friends, family, and followers when I got home.
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Since we didn’t have the exact location of these Instagram-worthy fields, we stopped at the first field we saw. There were no people, no scent of lavender, no tree and cottage, no beautiful sunset. The missing sunset was our fault since we were there in the middle of the day. It was nothing like I have seen on social media. It was hot and dusty, and it was super naive of me to think those pictures were real. I mean they are real but they are a work of art of excellent photographers, and they screw up the reality. On the field, it was us and one Asian couple, who were having their own “photoshoot.” I am not a model and didn’t practice at home, thus my chance of running in the fields with my hair blowing in the wind was fairly small. There was no wind either so my hair wouldn’t flutter anyway. My hubby is not a photographer so I didn’t bother trying to pose. I just took a few snaps of the field, went into the store, bought some lavender soap, and we were off to Aix-en-Provence to continue our road trip towards Normandie. I might sound bitter, but I am not. I love this experience and always think of it with a smile on my face.
BUT, don’t let my honesty stop you from making your own experience, because it doesn’t have to be like mine. I do believe that lavender fields are beautiful, I just had to do even more research and more planning. I do hope you continue reading because Provence is such a beautiful place and there are tons of things to see and do around the fields. Have a base in one of the beautiful villages around the Valensole Plateau, Aix-en-Provence, or Avignon and visit Valensole Plateau as your day trip, or even an afternoon trip so you can get these fantastic sunset shots. Or you can go on a guided day trip to see lavender fields from Aix-en-Provence. Did you know that Provence is the oldest wine region in France?
You can also book a day trip to the lavender fields of the Valensole Plateau from Avignon.
Things to do and villages to stay in around Plateau of Valensole Provence
You can visit the Lavender Museum located in Cabrrères-D’avignont – Le Musée de la Lavande, where you also can buy lavender products in their shop. There are, however, several shops around the Valensole Plateau where you can get soaps in all shapes, sizes, and forms, and dried lavender.
In the village of Riez, an ancient Roman town, every July a colorful two-day Renaissance festival takes place, with processions in traditional costumes, dancing, a local product market, a ball, and many shows.
Visit beautiful Notre-Dame de Sénanque Abbey – a community of Cistercian Monks. The beauty of the architecture and of the valley where the Abbey lies is supposed to be stunning. The Abbey is closed on Sunday mornings and special religious days. They offer one-hour guided tours in French each week. The Abbey is located just near the village of Gordes.
If you want to visit Valensole Plateau on a day trip, you can stay in Aix-en-Provence, located just 45 miles (70 km) south of Valensole, Avignon, or Marseilles. Marseille Provence Airport is an international airport located 27 km northwest of Marseille. If you will be doing your own touring you can pick up your rental car at the airport and leave for Aix-en-Provence or Avignon.
Gordes village – Cobbled streets and golden stone houses wind their way around a mountaintop, ending up at the majestic 16th-century château. The town has been home to several celebrated French painters, including Marc Chagall. With the sun-baked greenery and jagged rocks surrounding it, it is easy to see how it could inspire. Highlights of the village are the Pol Mara Museum; the ancient, preserved settlements known as ‘bories’; and the joyful summer music festival. Notre-Dame de Sénanque Abbey is located outside the village. Read more about Gordes village in Provence.
Roussillon village – Along with Gordes is the most famous village in the Luberon area of Provence. Situated in the heart of one of the most significant ochre deposits in the world, Roussillon is famous for its magnificent red cliffs and ochre quarries. There are several art galleries and studios, and some excellent restaurants where you can appreciate the talent of chefs well-known throughout the region. Read more about Roussillon village in Provence.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence village – The town has sun-soaked medieval walls, ornate fountains, and one of the oldest arcs de Triomphe in the country, and it can also claim to be the place that inspired some of Van Gogh’s most celebrated works. Surrounded by lush green perfumed valleys, its ancient streets are lined with beautifully restored old houses, old fountains, shady squares, picturesque restaurants, and elegant boutiques. Read more about Saint-Rémy-de-Provence village in Provence.
Sault, France – All around the city lie large blue fields alternating with fields of wheat for as far as you can see. Activities here vary significantly from tasting the local products (nougat, macaroons, and lavender honey) to climbing Mont Ventoux. Read more about Sault village in Provence.
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Sorry for your bad experience.
I just came back from France and I just visited the plateau de Valensone (route D56): beautiful!!!
I was in France from June 23rd until July 7th. Before to go there I called the Tourist office of Valensole to ask when it was the best time to see the lavender fields. I was told that the lavender was a little bit late this year and that the best time to see them was the first week of July. They also told me that on July 10th they would have start to cut it. And when they cut it, its all the fields more or less at the same time. If this year (2018) you go there after July 15th, you want see anything anymore.
So I was there on July 4th and it was just fabulous! Great colours and a great perfume. The colours are not like the very very purple one in Instagram, but I can assure you that they are really awesome! Here I’m not able to add a picture made with my phone. But I assure it was worth to go there. I was there in 2016 as well and it was also very beautiful. But they cut it earlier: on the first week of July.
P.S. Route D56 is really good. But note that not all the fields are beautiful. But there are so many….
I suggest to call the tourist office of Valensole before to go there to make sure it’s the right period to se the fields!
Thank you for the tips! We were there around 10th of July and as you say not all fields are as beautiful as you see on SoMe. To call the tourist office of Valensole would be a great idea 🙂
This is so true! I finally got a permit to the Wave in Arizona and my expectations were so high from social media that I honestly found it underwhelming…
Hahah I completely understand! This has happened to me before too!
It is INSANE what these editing apps can do isn’t it!?!? Love your before/after images.
Ha ha, you’re lucky that your husband reads your blog posts ;-). I missed the lavender fields in the UK this year and was a bit disappointed but perhaps I shouldn’t be as they were probably a bit overcrowded too
Lena, I love your honesty here! Same thing happened to me when I went somewhere in Spain. Back then it was through google images.
Hahaha Oh Lena I feel for you about being so disappointed with the outcome! Good on ya for turning it into a post and being so honest about your experience!