Before this trip I had only ever been to Sancerre and Paris. I didn’t know what the South of France held for me. In my mind I thought it was just full of campsites, gîtes and retired English people. Yeah, I know, stereotype! Anyway, I could not have been more wrong. The South of France is full of adorable little towns that make you feel like you’re living in a movie. The landscape is incredible, from the mountains to the sea. And there is SO MUCH to do! My trip focused on Vaucluse, a region within Provence in the South of France. I was there to explore the region and to witness the beauty of the lavender season in Provence. I knew before I even stepped off the plane that I would be taking A LOT of photos.
Lavender Season in Provence
Fly into Marseille with Aer Lingus from Dublin (prices start from around €123 return). Or fly from Heathrow London with British Airways to Marseille (prices start from around £87 return). Then it’s ROAD TRIP time. Rent a car or hire a driver and prepare to be wowed by the incredible landscape that Provence and Vaucluse have to offer. Make sure to bring your Marco Polo French Riviera Provence map so that you can plan you trip and don’t get lost. Especially if you’re like me and take so many photos that your phone dies, so no Google maps!
Stop in Avignon
“Sur le Pont d’Avignon, On y danse, On y danse”, is a song from the 15th century about the famous Avignon Bridge. I remember singing it as a kid because my mam is obsessed with France and taught my sister and I all the songs and nursery rhymes. So when I finally got to visit Avignon and the famous bridge it was a pretty cool moment for me.
I’m not forgetting about lavender season in Provence, there were lavender plants around the outskirts of Avignon, near the bridge. It was like we were following the breadcrumbs until we got to the main event. But there’s so much to see in Avignon that I nearly forgot about lavender season.
We stayed at Hôtel de l’Horloge just off Place de l’Horloge. It was SO hot when we arrived in Avignon (around 36C) but the rooms in the hotel were chilled to perfection! Make sure to pack light summery clothes if you’re visiting Provence in June and maybe one of those handheld fans.
We had lunch in L’Ubu, an adorable little café serving the most incredible quiche I have ever tasted in my life, and don’t even get me started on dessert. Of course, no visit to Avignon is complete without checking out the Pope’s Palace.
If you’re into shopping you will not be disappointed, there is no end of tiny, independent boutiques as well as all the usual high-street stores. I wish I’d had more time to wander the cobbled streets of Avignon, picking up souvenirs and sipping rosé BUT, we had to move on in our search for the lavender fields!
Cycle to Flassan
Ok, so I don’t cycle. I never liked it as a child and as an adult I’m not much different. Give me a horse or let me use my own two feet any day. BUT, if you’re into cycling, then Vaucluse is a great spot for it. We stopped at the Terraventoux winery to pick up the e-bikes from TerraBike and join our guide.
I say “our” guide, but I mean everyone else’s guide because I hopped in the mini-van with fellow blogger, Kate, and followed the others on their winding road up the mountain and through the wineries. We stopped to drool over the cherry trees, branches heavy with ripe fruit. We didn’t pick any though, didn’t want to upset the owners (or risk them being covered in pesticides).
The landscape was stunning with bright red soil and virtually non-stop grape vines. We stopped for refreshments at the tiny town of Flassan to sample some Terraventoux wines and local olive tapenade. This town is one of the most photogenic I have ever seen in my life. The doors, the fountains, THE CREEPER PLANTS! I was absolutely in love. Have a look at the photos and see for yourself!
Forage in Brantes
Next stop, Brantes! We went foraging for edible plants in the tiny hilltop town of Brantes with the wonderful women behind “Les Aventurieres du Gout“. This was one of the most unique and wonderful experiences I (and my tastebuds) had on this trip to see lavender season in Provence.
Firstly, the town itself was something straight out of Beauty and the Beast. I could picture Belle dancing through the town complaining about provincial life. But the town was secondary to the incredible culinary delights that we managed to whip up with the help of our guides.
Before we could cook anything, we had to forage for our ingredients. We explored all the little twists and turns of the town learning about the uses of each plant and the best time to pick them. I found that I was familiar with a lot of them from pharmacy. Once we had everything we needed then it was back to the deliciously brightly painted kitchen to prepare our lunch.
Everyone was put to work. I was in charge of de-pitting the olives and mixing the tapenade. Others were creating the cheese filling for the seasonal apricots, or chopping tomatoes for the bruschetta. Everything was vegetarian.
What you prepare changes depending on the season. We were visiting in June. Once all the food was complete, we plated up. Everyone was in love with wild carrot flower tempura, I still dream about it. But honestly, everything was incredible. We drank, we ate, we chatted away in french and it was bliss. To finish there was a cherry tart. It was literally the cherry on top. It’s worth just visiting Provence for this experience!
Lavender Fields of Valréas
WE MADE IT! Finally we were going to see what lavender season in Provence was all about, we were headed for Valréas! We arrived at the visitor’s centre, got our directions and then headed up into the fields. The hills were a gradient of different shades of purple. Once we arrived we wandered through different lavender fields. Some were neat and pure purple, others were unkempt and had wild flowers and weeds mixed in amongst the purple. They were all beautiful.
Bees droned around our legs, pollinating the lavender and keeping the world alive. We all took far too many photos and videos, wandering and posing between the rows of lavender. It was such an incredible natural backdrop. The bright blue sky and the stunning purple, two of my favourite colours. I couldn’t believe we had finally witnessed lavender season in Provence. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more.
Have you ever been to France?
Have you seen the lavender season?
Tell me about it in the comments!