Carolyne Kauser-AbbottFrench Decor & GardensInspire

A Year in Provence 4 Seasons of Flowers and Recipes

When we first arrived in Provence, it was early October. That year delivered a relatively mild start to the month, and I honestly wasn’t focused on the flowers that came later. Cycling under sunny skies in the Camargue, we passed by rice fields that were being harvested and visited the Abbey of Saint-Gilles, a UNESCO Heritage Site and point along the Santiago de Compostela in France. Next up was a visit to Arles and Uzès, where we encountered some of the incredible markets of Provence. Only after a few weeks in the region we made it to the flower market in Aix-en-Provence, and the realization dawned that part of our year in Provence would be all about the flowers.

Aix en Provence Flower Market

Provence Flowers and Recipes

One of the many surprises about Provence is the flowers that bloom throughout the entire year in the region. The mild Mediterranean climate creates a suitable environment for flowering trees and bushes starting in late January most years. Below is a list by month of the typical blooms that you might see when you visit. But, of course, Mother Nature often has something to say about the exact timing. Please click the links below for additional details, and enjoy the seasonal recipes sprinkled throughout this article.

January in the South

Almonds, outside of dedicated plantations such as calisson producer Roy René these trees, are often found in the wild, showing a bit of wear and tear from the harsh extremes of the climate. During a milder winter, the almond trees might start to bloom late in the month. Sculptor Ursula Hanes, one of the co-founders of the artist retreat Ateliers Fourwinds, worked on a series inspired by the almond trees of Provence. Her sculpture series “Almond Trees dancing in the Mistral” is formed with clay and finished with a patina using the ochres from Roussillon.

Fine art Photography in Provence Learning

©Raina Stinson Fine art Photography

Mimosa – When canary-yellow bunches of mimosas appeared in the market, it was a sign that spring was close. Flowering from January through March on the Côte d’Azur, mimosas are a harbinger of warmer days ahead. What better excuse for a drive along the sunny French Riviera than to see the Route du Mimosa (Mimosa Trail)?

February Blooms

Almond trees are usually the first to bloom in Provence. The small white or pale pink flowers are visible in February. The almond tree is small. At full maturity, it may reach a height of 10 meters, with a trunk diameter of 30 centimetres. The trees typically start bearing fruit after about five years. The almond is technically a fruit, not a nut, from the same family as the plum or cherry (Prunus). This decidedly old tree has been a part of different cultures and human nutrition for eons. There are several mentions of almonds in the bible. It is believed that growth in almond tree cultivation closely followed human migration near Mediterranean shores. Even though the almond tree is native to warm European climates, the large majority of global yield is now US based, in California, at 45% of world production.

Almond and Fig Cake
This cake is quick to prepare. It is a sweet treat that is perfect with a hot cup of coffee or tea or just as lovely with some wine. Delicious, and even better still, enjoyed with friends and a glass of wine
Check out this recipe
Almond and Fig Cake Recipe

Almond Blossoms Provence January

Mimosa – Today, the high season on the French Riviera is during the summer months. However, in the 19th century, it was in the cold winter months when wealthy foreigners escaped to the French coast. This stylish group left a permeant impression on the Riviera with landmarks such as the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, art-deco homes and gardens filled with mimosas. The mimosa, part of the acacia family, is native to Australia, not the South of France. Originally planted in the 1850s in the gardens of the “Riviera Set,” mimosas are celebrated along the coastline in winter.

Mimosa Eggs - Oeufs Mimosa
I was introduced to Oeufs Mimosa (Mimosa Eggs) years ago in Marseille when my cousin placed a large, resplendent platter of Oeufs Mimosa on the dining table. The traditional recipe is unbelievably simple: hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and finely chopped parsley.
Check out this recipe
Mimosa Deviled Eggs
Mimosa Trail French Riviera

©Cote d’Azur Tourisme

Pear Trees (late in the month)

Apricot Trees – Some years, the delicate pink blossoms appear on the trees in February. Relative to Turkey, Iran and Italy, France is not a significant global producer. The most common varieties in France are the Bergeron and Orange de Provence. The season for ripe apricots in Provence is short, typically from June until the end of August.

Apricot and Pistachio Tarte Tartin
This apricot tarte tatin is not only beautiful it is easy to make.
Check out this recipe
Apricot Pistachio Tarte Tartin Mirabeau Wine

Marvellous March

Mimosa (nearing the end of their season) – The official Route du Mimosa runs 130 kilometres from Bormes les Mimosas to the perfume capital of Grasse. From January to March, this flower-centric festival includes parades, workshops and other activities attracting crowds to the coastline during a quieter period of the year. However, catching the blossoms at their peak takes a bit of luck, as Mother Nature determines exactly when the plants will flower.

Golfe de La Napoule, Cannes

©Cote d’azur Tourisme

Pear Trees

Cherry Trees (late in the month)

Plum Trees (late in the month)

Peach Trees (late in the month)

Apricot Trees

April Showers

Rain or no rain, the flowers are always beautiful in Provence at this time of the year. April is the time to savour asparagus, green onions, fresh lettuce, peas, spring lamb and strawberries. Usually, Carpentras celebrates the strawberry crop with the family-friendly Fête de la Fraise in April. It is also the month when you start to see the poppies. While the poppy fields are less fragrant than the lavender, they are no less beautiful and more challenging to capture in photos.

Poppies Flowers in Provence

Poppies (some early blooms)


Roses – Read about the Villa and Gardens Ephrussi de Rothschild on Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world. In addition to the magnificent gardens, the exquisite villa is an absolute treasure. This garden is a “must see” destination on the Côte d’Azur.

Roses Flowers in Provence

Cherry Trees

Plum Trees

Peach Trees

Apricot Trees

May a Month of Holidays

Whether, as the saying goes, it is a result of April showers or simply Mother Nature’s natural cycle, May is the time for flowers in Provence and along the Côte d’Azur. Sure, the lavender fields in July are spectacular, and the sunflowers are enough to stop you in your tracks, but May is a month of long weekends and poppy fields.

Poppies –  The red fields are breathtaking and natural, as poppies only grow in places where there is no trace of chemicals or fertilizer. Unfortunately, poppies are impossible to photograph, never appearing as beautiful in a digital format.


Wisteria Flowers in Provence

Roses – There is another reason to visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The Rose and Plant Festival is a 2-day event that is a chance to meet with professional growers, garden designers, and botanical experts. Take part in a workshop, speak to a floral expert, or smell the roses. In addition, discover the Belle Epoque history of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.

Iris – Vincent van Gogh painted the deep purple, snowy white and tall mauve varieties that grew outside his window at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Mentioned on several occasions by Nostradamus, who was born nearby and knew it as a Franciscan convent, it was originally an Augustinian priory dating from the 12th century. It was converted into an asylum in the 19th century.

Iris Flowers in Provence

Olive Trees – The Provencal climate is ideal for olive trees, grapevines and other drought-resistant crops. Olive trees thought to have originated in Northern Africa grow readily in countries bordering the Mediterranean. However, the annual growing cycle for olives requires patience. In late spring, tiny white buds finally appear on the trees. These flowers are tiny and hard to see. Slowly the flowers turn into small, pinkie-nail-sized green buds. During summer, olives grow to full size (a large marble).

Understanding Provencal Olive Oil

Green and Black Olive Tapenades
Two easy recipes for tapenades -- one green and one black
Check out this recipe
Green Olive Tapenades @ProvenceCook
Cake Aux Olives Vertes - Green Olive Cake
A quick and delicious appetizer bread that's easy to make and even easier to eat! A savoury delight with salted olives, rich smoky duck breast and creamy bites of Gruyère. A must for your next dinner party.
Check out this recipe
Green Olive Cake Cake aux Olives Vertes @GingerandNutmeg

June in Bloom

Spanish Broom – a bright yellow bush. Once the flowers die, the branches dry and harden. Historically, the branches would be tied together and used as a broom.

LavenderThe fragrance of lavender flowers is magical. Your eyes follow perfect rows of plants shaped like hedgehogs stretching to the Provencal horizon. This aromatic purple beauty attracts thousands of tourists and locals, hoping to time their visit for the peak of the flowering cycle. However, Mother Nature is in charge. The precise timing of flowering changes annually, depending on the weather. Typically, some fields bloom by late June. The harvest is mostly complete by mid-August and celebrated on the 15th of the month, with the Fête de la Lavande in Sault marking the end of the season.

Lavender in Provence Flowers

Poppies fade to light pink.

Bogenvillia in several shades.



Chicory, these tiny blue-lavender flowers grow in the wild. You will likely see them through a field or along a country road. It’s the same family as Endive.

Jasmine in flower is so fragrant it’s like being inside a perfume bottle.

July Holidays

LavenderThe Romans first introduced the lavender plant to the South of France as they were aware of lavender’s health and hygiene benefits. Provence’s hot, dry climate and ample well-drained land between 600 – 1,400 metres in altitude suit these low shrubs. Today, long after the Romans, the lovely fragrant plants are an economic driver in the region, impacting agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and retail. There are 1,500 producers and over 25,000 hectares under cultivation in four (4) departments the Drôme, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Vaucluse, with some small production in the Auvergne, Quercy and the Ardèche. According to France 24, there are roughly 120 distilleries.

Valensole Lavender Provence Highlights Trip Planning

Sunflowers – You may not be aware that although you find postcards, photos and paintings of sunflowers all over Provence, they are native to the Americas. Sunflower seeds were brought to Europe by Spaniards in the 16th century, where sunflower oil became a widespread cooking ingredient. Sunflowers have rough, hairy stems, and what most people call the flower on a mature sunflower is a head of numerous small flowers crowded together. The outer flowers are sterile, and the flowers inside the circular head mature into seeds from which oil is extracted. There are many beautiful sunflower fields in Vaucluse.

Thistles and artichokes

Fennel flowers – a delicate soft-yellow flower with a beautiful scent. Look for these growing wild.


Hot August Days

Lavender (the last of the fresh flowers) – Organized lavender farming in Provence began at the end of the 19th century. Before that, wild blooms were gathered to treat wounds and other ailments. The flowers were also collected to make fuseaux. In the Middle Ages, Provencal dowry chests often contained fuseaux to lightly perfume clothes and linens, which was important when hygiene was an afterthought. Determined to carry on an artisanal tradition, Elsa Lenthal, the founded Fuseaux de Lavande de Provence (the company is now under her name), chose to produce lavender wands in these markets as her summer job. She has turned that summer gig into a full-time activity promoting an old Provencal custom.

Vincent Van Gogh Sunflowers

Sunflowers (until mid-month) – The French word tournesol translates into ‘turn to the sun.’ In reality, young plants do track circadian rhythms. However, well before full maturity, the plants no longer turn with the daily cycles of the sun. Instead, the stems stand rigid as the sunny flowers face east. Although the seeds produce 80% of the crop value when pressed to create sunflower oil, the entire plant is valuable. Fibre from the stem is turned into paper. After the seed extraction, the remaining leaves and the “cake” become animal feed.

Zucchini flowers Market Nice Cote d'Azur

Zucchini flowers – These are delicate blooms and a perishable culinary ingredient. If you buy these are the market, plan to use them the same day.

Rouget Ratatouille Provencal Cooking

Rouget stuffed with Ratatouille
This recipe is a three-in-one combination of my mother's ratatouille and tapenade for a delicious stuffed rouget.
Check out this recipe
Rouget Ratatouille Provencal Cooking
Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms: Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Tapenade
This recipe is easy to prepare and delicious to eat. Serve hot with chilled rosé.
Check out this recipe
How to Stuff Zucchini Blossoms
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers from Provence
But we often wonder how to prepare them? Today we share with you a delicious way we cook them in Provence.. Here is the recipe for zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta. An aromatic recipe, very simple to make, which will create a sensation for your guest as a starter or as an accompaniment to fish or shellfish.
Check out this recipe
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers Recipe

September Painter’s Light

Early fall in Provence can be gentle, with foggy mornings and bright days. Or the season arrives abruptly swept in by a cold mistral wind. With a diminished fire risk, hiking is generally terrific. At this time of the year, evening materializes rapidly, and the sun’s departing rays bathe the region in a filtered pink glow—the painter’s light.

Wild Arugula

Morning Glory

Morning Glory Flowers in Provence

Zucchini flowers

October Harvest

Pyracantha bushes (Firethorns) in eye-catching red, orange and yellow berries appear along the roadsides.

Saffron Crocus – The word saffron comes from the Arab word zafaran, which means yellow – the colour imparted to food by the dried stigma of the flowering crocus. The Crocus sativus is part of the Iris family: this tiny Iris cousin, a perennial, flowers in the fall. The plant grows from a bulb to a height of 20-30cm; the purple flower itself is no more than 4 cm. Each flower contains three styles or stigma, not much larger than a thread; these are harvested and dried to produce saffron. Unfortunately, the flowers only bloom for a remarkably short time, a matter of hours. It takes 250,000 stigmas to make just half a kilo of saffron. So you can only expect to reap 2.5-3 kilos of saffron on one acre of land.

Saffron Harvest Provence #TastesofProvence @PerfProvence

Zucchini and Shrimp Fritters, Saffron Mayonnaise
Crispy fried zucchini and shrimp fritters topped with a fresh and creamy saffron mayonnaise.
Check out this recipe
Shrimp Appetizer zucchini fritters @CocoaandLavender
Mussels Cream Soup with Saffron and Leek
This is an easy cream-based soup with mussels and the gentle flavours of leek and saffron.
Check out this recipe
Mussels Cream Soup with Saffron and Leek @Cooknwithclass

Wild Arugula – a tiny plant with a yellow flower and peppery leaves. It would take forever to pick enough for a salad, but a handful makes a great topping for a dish.

November Calm

Saffron Crocus – In the Jabron Valley, at 600 meters, about 10 kilometres from Sisteron, autumn mornings can be particularly frosty with single-digit temperatures. However, the saffron harvest at le Moulin de Jarjayes cannot wait for warmer weather. The tiny purple-hued crocus blooms only last a few hours.

Saffron Harvest Provence Tastes Provence

Saffron Chicken with Quince
If you want a new way to enjoy your chicken the next time you make dinner, you should try this recipe! 
Check out this recipe
Chicken Saffron Quince Recipe
Seared Scallops, Tarragon Beurre Blanc, Saffron Carrots
Seared scallops in a citrus sauce on top of cooked carrot ribbons. It is a delicious combination and pairs perfectly with Clos Beylesse (2020), A Côtes de Provence rosé.
Check out this recipe
Seared Scallops Citrus Sauce
Saffron Panna Cotta
This dessert is easy to make, just allow enough time (3+ hours) for the panna cotta to set.
Check out this recipe
Saffron Panna Cotta Recipe

December Celebrations

While not too many flowers bloom at this time of the year, the dormant winter period is critical for the next growing season. Although this may not be a typical gardening time, part of the Christmas season in Provence includes “planting” wheat seeds on December 4th, Fête de la Sainte Barbe (Feast of Saint Barbara). The Provençal holiday tradition includes germinating wheat seeds in three saucers with damp cotton. The saucers are placed on the fireplace or in the crib. The elders say the next year will be prosperous if the stems grow straight and green. These small miniature fields are placed in the family’s creche.

Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)
This delicious and festive cake is a perfect end to any holiday celebration. Whether you're gathering with friends or enjoying a quiet evening with loved ones, a slice of this decadent cake is sure to get you in the warm Christmas spirit.
Check out this recipe
Making Bûche de Noël
Christmas on the French Riviera Cocktail
A spicy cocktail to add extra celebration to the holiday season!
Check out this recipe
Gin Cocktail for Christmas
Galette des Rois
A classic Christmas cake made from puff pastry, filled with frangipane and a small treasure or feve hidden inside.
Check out this recipe
Galette des Rois Kings Cake Provence @CocoaandLavender

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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