Looking for Lavender in the Luberon Valley
Lavender Fields Forever
Many of us would love to spend days in Provence, luxuriating amidst fields of this alluring purple flower. This article is all about ‘lavande rapide’ – how to see lavender in Provence when you don’t have much time or have a long list of things you want to see.
Probably the best place to see lavender in all its glory is around Sault, in the foothills of Mont Ventoux, but it’s a little out of the way so if you also want to see hill-top Gordes, ochre red Roussillon and the late Peter Mayle’s Ménerbes along with a few other Luberon villages, this article will give you some ideas on how to see it without travelling to the northern Vaucluse, where to find Sault’s lavender fields. The Luberon valley is less than an hour’s drive from Avignon and about an hour and a quarter from Aix-en-Provence.
Firstly, you have to make sure you’re in the Luberon at the right time. Some of the photos are taken during the first two weeks of July, so if you visit around then you should be fine. A great place to start would be the stunning hilltop village of Gordes. Head towards the viewpoint below the church, where you should be able to see a lavender field almost immediately below, looking towards Joucas. It’s a spectacular panorama with or without lavender in bloom!
When you’ve finished exploring Gordes, head towards tiny Joucas. If you don’t have time to explore Joucas – it has an excellent outdoor café-restaurant, a splendid little church and a pretty town hall – follow the signs to Roussillon. You will be able to get up close and personal to lavender, as the road between Roussillon and Joucas gives terrific close-up views and photo opportunities. There are a couple of large lavender fields here along with a few nearby smaller ones. You should be able to pull your car off the road and stop for a few minutes. I would say this is the most accessible place to experience the Luberon’s ‘lavande rapide.’
Across the main road to Apt, the D900, there are numerous lavender fields on the plain between Bonnieux and Lacoste, both are attractive villages if you have the time. When wandering around Ménerbes, look immediately below, and you should see a handful of lavender fields, particularly prevalent below the side opposite the main car park.
Lavender Less Travelled
Smaller, and shall I say, ‘secret’ places to see lavender fields are just below Saignon, a pretty hilltop village near Apt, and en route to Rustrel and the Colorado Provençal – a little out of the way but magnificent scenery to enjoy. Should you find yourself in Murs, a small village on the other side of the hill behind Joucas, there are more lavender fields between here and Gordes. Once again, out of the way, but it’s definitely quieter around here – you might even have them to yourself.
One of the most photographed lavender fields in France is at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque near Gordes (main picture). It is very picturesque but extremely popular with individuals and coach tours. Get there early in the morning for a quieter experience and good light for your photos.
Image credits: Thank you to Le Mas de Rosemarie for their kind permission to reproduce their photos. There are four beautiful holiday homes, all with private pools.
This website is one of my go-to sites for lavender with great information about smaller places.
You may be wondering if the lavender fields of the Luberon are mentioned in my books Thirty-five Minutes from St Tropez and Stolen Summer – they’re not! Most of the scenes are set nearer to St Tropez, in Monaco, Antibes, Aix-en-Provence and near Avignon. I am setting some scenes there in my current work in progress!
You’ll find more information about my books and daily photos of France and Italy on my Facebook Page.