Summer come… my mind replays the afternoons when I was running on the windy hillside, between the endless purple lavender season and the brilliant yellow sunflower season in Provence. Living in Toulouse, the immense sunflower hills of Lauragais have become as idyllic and familiar as breathing. Suddenly, memories of Provence flashed back. That place now must be wearing a purple scarf of endless and fragrant lavender beds. Today, I want to share with you great moments I had during that trip. So, what is the best time of year to visit Provence and where to see the lavender fields in Provence France in July? Let’s check out my Provence travel blog with the fullest Provence travel guide to experience the Provence lavender season with the suggested best places to see lavender fields in Provence, best places to see lavender in Provence as well as best time to visit lavender fields in Provence on my field trip to one of the most beautiful and romantic region of France.
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Provence was gorgeous and splendid on a honey-orange summer afternoon. Provence was once a province in the southeast of France, now it occupies a large part of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region, also known as PACA. The name alone says everything, Provence has the deep blue sea of the Côte-d’Azur, the year-round snow-white mountains of the Alps. And somewhere between the sea and the mountains, are immense purple lavender fields to the horizon.
Without lavender, Provence also would be beautiful with its long Mediterranean coastline, warm sunshine all year round, with Briançon pine forests with golden leaves in every autumn, with Lake Serre-Ponçon reflecting the mountains, with the architectural works are solid and still standing of the Roman Empire in Arles, with the wild mountains and forests of Vercor, with Verdon gorge and turquoise waters, with Roussilon orange-yellow ocher mines, with a flooded Camargue biosphere reserve filled with flamingos, with the charming villages of Gordes, Montbrun-les-Bains, Banon, Moustier-Saint-Marie… true French than ever. Yes, Provence is not only lavender, but from the end of June to the beginning of August every year, lavender flowers still bloom on the sunny and windy slopes, adding a purple color to the already brilliant picture, full of scent, full of color.
The car was busy driving on a small winding road through almond groves and fragrant lavender fields. From village to village, from Sault to Valensole, Provence summer noon was hot and cicadas chirped vibrantly. Somewhere around Sault, a gentle breeze caressed the lavender fields dotted with wild flowers, blowing through the open window, tossing my long hair. Opened my eyes to look through the window, so sunny, so cloudy! Memories of school days returned briefly, the sweltering heat of summer days, the sound of cicadas chirping throughout the sunny school yard and a purple color of Lagerstroemia indica flowers filled the small road. Going forever, going forever, seems to never get tired… through rolling hills, through orange houses with pastel blue windows, fields of sunflowers as yellow as the sun and fields of harvested wheat that are only scattered some round piles of straw. Then we went to Valensole.
Unlike in Sault, the lavender fields in Valensole were vast in a purple ocean. Each flower bed is neat, evenly, parallel to each other, seeming to gather only at the foot of the fanciful green mountains in the distance. If the lavender in Sault is as rustic as a village girl growing up in the fields of flowers and weeds, the lavender of Valensole is cared for to bring the appearance of a noble and lovely lady. Both were beautiful, the same fragrance, the same charm to the heart.
The late afternoons in Valensole were wonderful, when the wind on the plateau gradually dispelled the blazing heat that lingers on the faded ground. Spreading a checkered towel between two lavender beds far from the main road, lied down and watched the clouds drift by, slided my fingers into the fresh, soft flower branches, inhaled the sweet fragrance of flowers to fill your chest. And time has really stopped, I could stay there forever, doing nothing, and never get bored. The bees are not constantly buzzing, the sun was red like a fire, burning the blue mountains on the horizon.
Sunset must be the most magical moment in the wavy lavender fields. Beneath the orange-pink clouds, the already purple flowers were more purple, more brilliant than ever. My mind followed the rhythm of the pink sun to bewilderment, squinting until the sun disappeared. A few minutes later, the last forgotten rays of sunlight dyed the clouds red for a moment before dying out. The splendor gave way to nightfall in Valensole. Fingers were still fragrant with lavender, and tomorrow will be a new day again…
Provence lavender season: Where to see the lavender fields in Provence, best places to see lavender fields in Provence
The “lavender road” in Provence stretches over a very large area, hundreds of square kilometers. In which the 3 most famous areas and also the destinations of the most flower viewing tours are located in Valensole, Sault and Gordes. The map of «Lavender Road» and other must-know information can be found at www.routes-lavande.com (part of website in English).
The lavender fields in Valensole are the widest, well tended, the flower beds straight and free of weeds. The whole vast plateau is covered with purple lavender flowers. There are also rolling mountains on the horizon.
- In my personal opinion, the most beautiful (but also the most crowded) lavender field to take picture in Valensole is located right next to the shop specializing in lavender extracts, Lavande Angelvin (Address: Campagne neuve, 04210 Valensole, France) on the edge of the village of Valensole (on the main road D6, towards Manosque, GPS coordinates 43.823942, 5.938959).
- In addition, if you have more time to ride around to explore the Valensole plateau (“plateau de Valensole”), lavender is grown along the D8 road running towards the mountain. There are far fewer tourists here than near the village and there are still beautiful photo spots on the small roads weaving between the fields. On the Valensole plateau, it feels like all the flower fields are your own.
In Sault, the lavender fields are smaller than in Valensole. Yet these fields yield 40% of the flower production of the whole of France. Sault’s flower fields, which bloom from late July to mid-August every year, are nestled among the trees, surrounded by rolling hills.
- From Carpentras, a small city near Avignon, to Sault you will pass through the Monieux pass on the D1 road. At the top of the pass, there is a stop for you to see the immense lavender fields and the Albion valley.
- North of Sault, between Sault and Montbrun-les-Bains with the most beautiful flower fields in the region.
- You can visit the flower fields at the foot of Sault village to take pictures of the romantic purple flower beds, with the background of the old village. GPS coordinates 44.091275, 5.404013).
In Gordes, there is a flower garden in front of the famous Notre-Dame de Sénanque Abbey, appearing on many postcards of Provence. However, you will not be allowed to go to inside the garden to take pictures. Specific opening hours to visit the inside of the monastery and ticket prices can be found at www.abbeyedesenanque.com.
Provence blog: When is best time to visit lavender fields in Provence?
What is the best time of year to visit Provence? Lavender flowers blooms beautifully from mid-June to mid-August every year. Depending on the weather (rain, sun and temperature), flowers can be bloomed 1, 2 weeks early or late. If you plan to visit an area, you should go at least 1 week before the Lavender Festival of that village. Lavender is harvested with a cutting machine, so it is very fast.
- Gordes, Apt: mid-June to first week of July.
- Areas of Valensole, Digne-les-Bains, flowers bloom beautifully in the last 10 days of June to mid-July.
- Sault, Banon, Montbrun-les-Bains, Saint-Aubain-sur-Ouvèze, Lourmarin: mid-July to early August.
- If you plan to go to both Valensole and Sault and Gordes, you should go to Valensole, take pictures of flowers first and then go to Gordes to visit one of the most beautiful villages in France. Finally, heading to Sault to admire the beautiful scenery but a bit shy, need to spend time searching for this area.
Provence lavender season: Lavender festivals
Seasonal festivals held in traditional lavender-growing villages in Provence (2021 calendar, slightly varying from year to year). Here you can buy flowers, scented pillows, and other products made from lavender such as soaps, lotions, honey, sausages, etc.
- Ferrassières: 1/7 July 1
- Valensole: 15/7 July 15
- Reillanne: ??/7 July ??
- Barrême: 22/7 July 22
- Sainte Agnes: July 29
- Digne-les-Bains: 5 days, from August 3 to 7 (Conso de la Lavande)
- Valréas: 4 days, from August 3 to 6 (Conso de la Lavande)
- Saint André de Rosans: August 11, 12
- Sault: August 15
Provence travel blog: How to get to the best places to see lavender in Provence?
By public transport
Going by public transport to the Gordes and Sault regions is quite difficult, so I only guide you to Valensole where there are the most beautiful and vast flower fields.
Regional airports: Marseille, Avignon, Toulon and Nice.
To get to Valensole, first, take a train or bus from big cities to Manosque, a small city about 20 km from Valensole.
Taking a train to Manosque station – Gréoux-les-Bains. Train ticket website: https://www.voyages-sncf.com/. Example about the distance and fare:
- Aix-en-Provence: 40 minutes, about €15 to 20/1-way.
- Marseille: 1 hour 20 minutes, about €19 to 22/1-way.
- Avignon: 2 and a half to 3 and a half hours, €30 to 40/1-way (transfer in Aix or Marseille).
- Nice: 4 to 5 hours, €40 to 50/1-way (transfer in Aix or Marseille).
Bus to Manosque stops at 2 stops: train station and routière station (address: Bd Charles de Gaulle). Taking the bus is much cheaper, the fare is only around €5, but it takes a little longer. Tickets can be purchased at the station or on the website https://www.info-ler.fr/ (website is in French only). There are 5 bus routes that pass through Manosque: 22, 25, 26, 28 and 29. Bus times can be found here: https://www.info-ler.fr/53-3C-Horaires-de-bus-et-cars-de-la-Region-PACA-3E-LER.html.
Then from Manosque to Valensole
- By electric bike: You can rent an electric bike (€17/half day, €26/1-day). Example: Bachelas Store (MBK), 24 Boulevard de la Plaine, is open every Tuesday to Saturday. Tel.: +33 (0)4 92 72 15 84. From Manosque to Valensole along the D6 road about 20 km long (1 way). This is a road for cars, the speed limit is 90km/h, so if you choose to ride a bicycle, pay attention to ride in a row and stay close to the right side of the road so as not to obstruct traffic and endanger yourself as well as others. The Valensole Plateau is located across the village of Valensole from the Manosque. Get out of the village, take the D8 road towards Puimoisson. All over the plateau is full of lavender, going until get bored, then come back.
- By taxi (range €70 to €80/trip, can go 4, 5 people). Just google « Taxi Manosque » will have a lot of results for you to choose from. Taxi will take you to the field, play until getting bored, then just call, they will pick you up to the depart location.
You can rent a car in any major city, like Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon. If you come to Valensole, you should go from Aix-en-Provence (70km, 1 hour journey). If you go to Sault, depart from Avignon will be closer (70km, 1 hour and 15 minutes).
I often rent a car on the website https://rentalcars.com. The rental price is about €65/1-day for a small 4-seater car (excluding insurance if you want to buy more and gasoline fee).
Currently, there are tours to see lavender from major cities in the region such as Avigon, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille. The advantage of the tour is that it’s affordable, easy, convenient, and doesn’t have to be searched. The downside is that you can’t see lavender at the best time of light at dawn and dusk.
There are 2 types of tours:
Tours organized by the Office of Tourism (Office de Tourisme)
There are many tours for you to choose from, almost every day there is a tour to visit the fields and beautiful villages around, prices range from €55 to €65 for short tour (half day tour), €100 to €120 (full day tour). Book tours and inquire at the City Tourism Office, by phone or on the Internet. Eg:
- Professional tours of French friends (search on google with the keyword “lavande tour + city name” will have a lot of results.
- Tours organized by students and French-Vietnamese, including tours to visit villages, see lavender on request, may include a night’s room, time and price by agreement. You can search and join groups on Facebook for more details.
Tips for taking photos of lavender on sunny days
- The best time to take photos of the day is from before dawn to about 9, 10am and from 6pm, 7pm after sunset.
- Taking pictures of lavender in the early morning will be more purple than taking pictures in the late afternoon (around 6pm, 7pm).
- If shooting in the evening, it is recommended to shoot at an oblique sun, with the sun on the left or right hand side, or backlit (the sun is in front of you). If photographed in the front light (the sun is behind you), the yellow-orange light of the sun will make the flowers appear slightly pale.
- The lavender fields are most beautiful at sunset. On slightly cloudy days, after sunset about 5 minutes, the clouds will turn bright red which is also quite beautiful.
- For dwarf photographers, to see the wide flower field, with long beds reaching to the horizon, you should stand in a high position to shoot down. If possible, bring a folding ladder, compact type, about 1 or 2 steps high. The field next to the Lavande Angelvin store that I mentioned above is already sloping, no need to bring a ladder to still get a good photo.
Distinguish 2 types of lavender: lavande vraie and lavandin: Same called lavender, but the flowers have many different varieties, the most common of which are lavande vraie (also known as lavande fine) and lavandin. Real lavender is called lavande vraie. Lavande vraie flowers are grown in the highlands from 600m to 1500m above sea level, each stem has only 1 straight branch, the flower bush does not spread around as much as the lavandin flower. Each stem has 3 branches, a main branch in the middle and 2 side branches on either side. Most of the fields are now planted with lavandin because of the higher yield.
Provence travel guide: Where can you go around in the Provence region?
- Lake Saint-Croix is about 40 km east of Valensole, passing through the Valensole plateau, very convenient for you to go to see flowers and then visit the lake in the same day. The lake water has a very special turquoise color of Verdon gorge flows into. Here you can enjoy renting rowing boats, water bicycles, swimming in the lake, or simply enjoying the view from above.
- Gorge du Verdon: one of the most beautiful gorges in France, created from the Verdon River. The Gorge du Verdon extends from Lake Saint-Croix all the way to Castellane. If you have a car, you can drive from Lake Saint-Croix (Gatelas Bridge) on the D952 road, to the Artuby Bridge and then back along the D71 for a view of the gorge. Going all the way on this road also takes a whole day, don’t schedule too much or you won’t be able to make it in time. This is also a paradise for those who love to go hiking, kayaking and adventure sports.
- The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a beautiful little village near Lake Saint-Croix, with a tradition of pottery making. The village is located on the poetic mountainside and is always named in the list of the most beautiful ancient villages in France. The village farmers market meets every Saturday morning.
- The Avignon region is the area with the largest concentration of Roman ancient cities in France, such as Nimes, Arles, Orange. These cities are located very close to each other, with monumental structures, listed by UNESCO. For example, the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, the Roman buildings in Arles, the bridge on the Gard River (Pont du Gard), the Roman theater in Orange. If you like ancient architecture then this is an ideal combination with the lavender tour near Gordes and Sault.
- Provence is also famous for its many picturesque ancient villages. There is nothing more wonderful than after going to see the lavender fields, going to the village to stroll through the cobblestone roads under the shadow of the mossy ancient walls with a cool ice cream in hand. Beautiful villages near Avignon just a few dozen kilometers away are Gordes, Roussillon, Ménerbes, Barroux, Venasque, Les-baux-de-Provence.
A my friend from Marseille once said: “Marseille is very ugly, but everything around it is beautiful”. Among them, I like coves (calanques) the most on the rocky coast from Marseille to Cassis. There are many ways to discover the calanques:
- by cruise ship, tickets are purchased at the old port (vieux port) in the center of Marseille. See tour information here.
- by road to see the coves from above. Having gone to the calanque many times, I prefer to go by road, although it is a bit more time consuming and strenuous. The most beautiful and easily accessible calanques near Marseille are Sugiton (located right behind the Luminy campus university dormitory), Sormiou, Morgiou. Particularly, Sormiou and Morgiou can go by car to the place if you go early before 7, 8 am. Each calanque has a different opening time for vehicles. See hours here. If you arrive outside of these hours, you can still get down to the calanque but will have to walk.
In the Marseille port area there are many interesting small islands on the Frioul archipelago, the most famous of which is Chateaux d’If, which inspired Alexandre Dumas to write the novel The Count of Monte-Cristo. Those who love literature can visit the island by boat. Train tickets are purchased on the old port (vieux port) Marseille or here.
Cassis is a small port city east of Marseille, very pretty with cute corners imbued with the coastal city of Provence. Beautiful beaches, hilltop fortresses, harbors teeming with fishing boats and yachts. Coming to Cassis, people often go sightseeing along the Route des Crêtes, visit Cap Canaille, trekking to the sea of Port Pain, D’en-Vau …
Aix-en-Provence (often called Aix for short) is a small city just half an hour from Marseille by bus or train. People often call Aix the most Provencal place in Provence. Little Aix with lovely and photogenic fountains, dotted somewhere in the old town. If you want to know what it’s like to live in a Provence city, stop by Aix.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Provence you can refer to
- Morning Lavender Tour from Aix-en-Provence
- Provence & Lavander Day Tour
- Vineyards and Lavender Half Day Tour in Provence
- Aix-en-Provence and Valensole Lavender Full Day Tour from Marseille
- Provence Guided Day Trip from Paris
- Roman Theatre of Orange and Orange Museum Ticket in Provence
- Château d’If Ticket in Marseille
- Villa Kérylos Ticket in Beaulieu-sur-Mer near Nice
- Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, and Marseille Day Tour from Marseille
Read more France guide here.