Learn about the mysteries of lavender on the Valensole plateau
The recent setting for designer Jacquemus' recent catwalk, the filming location for a famous Chinese romantic series and highly prized mecca for Instagramers, Valensole (External link) has become a lavender-swaddled emblem of the French art of living for travelers from around the world.
After soaking in in this bucolic setting-taking care to take the recommended routes, so as not to trample the plants-head to the Angelvin distillery (External link) at the bend of a path bordered by lavender fields. Here you can learn more about the ancestral art of distilling essential oils from the lavender plants. Best of all, you'll go home with your own bottle or bar of perfumed soap, to take the scents of Provence with you.
Continue your way towards the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (External link) , easily accessible by road or by bike from the fields. Nestled between two cliffs and classified among the most beautiful villages in France, it offers a panoramic view of the purple stretches of the valley, as well as a unique architectural and cultural gems in its own.
Wander the fields on the Albion plateau
Surrounded by purple fields, the village of Sault, in the department of Vaucluse, is known as "the capital of lavender." Particularly famous is the August 15 feast day, when Sault celebrates this emblematic flower of the region. On the program: exhibitions of paintings, markets for regional products, stalls of crafts, and even a French championship in lavender-harvesting with a sickle! The rest of the year, lavender remains omnipresent and punctuates the daily life of the inhabitants. Every Wednesday, producers gather around a Provençal market perfumed with the intoxicating scents of the voilet bloom.
Sault is also a perfect starting point for a walking or cycling tour between the very picturesque villages of Aurel, Saint-Trinit and Saint-Christol. Located less than ten kilometers (less than six miles) from each other, they are ideal stops to rest on a bike tour of Provence. It's impossible not to be charmed by the traditional architecture, the medieval churches and the view itself. These villages are worthy of a painter's palette: the mauve nuances of lavender set off the gold of Provençal villages, all under the verdant perview of nearby Mont-Ventoux.
Try and make time stop on the Claparèdes plateau
Hidden in the middle of the lavender expanses, near the village of Gordes (External link) in Vaucluse, stands a jewel of Romanesque architecture: Sénanque Abbey. Since the 12th century, this building has been home to a monastic community of Cistercian monks. Anxious to share this heritage treasure with passing visitors, they open the doors of the abbey church, the old dormitory and the cloister to the public.
A little further, you will notice bories (little stone huts), in the middle of the lavender fields. These stone cabins, with their characteristic domes, are reminiscent of an even more distant era in history. Formerly used as temporary accommodation during seasonal agricultural work, today they bear witness to the origins of Provençal culture.
Getting to Provence