ExploreGinger and Nutmeg

Sunflowers in Provence Why We Love The French Tournesols

Provençal postcards, Pinterest boards and Instagram are filled with photos of sunny sunflowers. Long before the Internet these beautiful flowers inspired Vincent Van Gogh to paint a still life series called Tournesols (Sunflowers). He painted the first of the group in 1887, in Paris, and then later (1888-89) in Arles.

Sunflowers Provence Tournesols France

Tournesol, a French word that translates into ‘turn to the sun.’ In reality, the young plants do track the circadian rhythms. Well before full maturity the plants no longer turn with the daily cycles of the sun, the stems stand rigid as the sunny flowers face east.

Sunflowers Provence Tournesols France

Sunflowers are common in parts of Europe, with 60% of the global production. However, it is one of the few plants that originated in the Americas. The domestication of the sunflower has been traced to what is present-day Mexico, as long ago as 2600BC (although may have come from Asia originally). The seeds were only brought to the rest of Europe, via Spain in the early 16th century.

Sunflowers Provence Tournesols France

The sunflower is made up of a large composite flower supported by a sturdy coarse stem and with sharp leaves. The outer part of the head is surrounded by petal florets that are commonly yellow, but can also be orange, red and other hybrid colours. The interior of the flower contains florets that are cleverly packed in an effective spiral pattern, to maximize the quantity. These florets produce the seeds used for oil and other nutritional uses.

…Continue reading here for the full text originally published on Ginger and Nutmeg

Vincent Van Gogh in Provence

Vincent Van Gogh at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

The Book Van Gogh’s Ear – The True Story

Sunflower Creative Inspiration from Provence

Shutters and Sunflowers the Provencal Landscape

The Sunflower Field a Novel set in World War II Provence

Please share this with friends and family.

All rights reserved. Perfectly Provence articles and other content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten (including translations into other languages) or redistributed without written permission. For usage information, please contact us.
Syndication Information
Affiliate Information
As an Amazon Associate, this website earns from qualifying purchases. Some recipes, posts and pages may have affiliate links. If you purchase via these links, we receive a small commission that does not impact your price. Thank you in advance for supporting our work to maintain Perfectly Provence.
Previous post

SPOOKTACULAR! Halloween activities and events on the French Riviera

Next post

Fish and Fungi Recipe: Fillet of Sole with Wild Mushrooms

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).


  1. blank
    July 28, 2018 at 12:15 am — Reply

    I love sunflowers. I’m often in awe of their sturdiness and how they produce such a plethora of big seeds in just one season. Thanks for the post.

    • blank
      July 28, 2018 at 12:19 am — Reply

      Hello Karen: Thanks for reading Perfectly Provence and taking a moment to write. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite flower, but the sunflower is just so happy! If you are not already signed-up for our weekly newsletter please join us for a dose of Provence. Have a great day.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.