Admire the Spectacle of Nature
From Flower to Fruit
The almond tree is the first to flower in spring. Alongside the olive tree, it is an emblematic tree of the Mediterranean basin. Thanks to its root system, it is very resistant to the cold which explains its sometimes early flowering, as early as February if the weather permits. It is then covered with white or slightly pink flowers, which are very sensitive to frost. To flourish, the almond tree needs light, sun and dry air. Fresh almonds are harvested at the end of spring, and dried almonds are harvested in September.
From the Alpilles to the Mont Ventoux, from the Luberon to the Comtadine plain, from the Sainte-Victoire mountain to Marseille, almond trees in bloom can be seen everywhere in Provence... Here are a few places where you can admire them in complete serenity:
- near Jouques: go to the Bèdes plateau, above this pretty Provencal village.
- in Bédoin: at the foot of Mont Ventoux, the almond trees are magnificent.
- on the Valensole plateau: uprooted in the 1950s and replaced by lavender, the almond trees are back in their place!
A visit: the Moulin de Salignan, near Apt, has an orchard of 40 old and recent varieties of almond trees. This conservation site becomes a place of rare beauty in mid-March!
Moulin de Salignan, impasse de Salignan, in Gargas.
A novel: La Nuit de l'amandier, followed by Le Mas des amandiers, by Françoise Bourdon, Presses de la Cité, 2021.
In the heart of the fields of almond trees, these thousand-year-old trees, Françoise Bourdon write an eternal ode to Provence through a proud heroine.
From Flower to Fruit
The flowering of the olive trees starts in May and lasts for about fifteen days. The flowers are small and white, tending to yellow, and not very fragrant, consisting of a corolla, two stamens, and a calyx with four petals. The flowers are grouped in clusters of 10 to 40.
Bees do not pollinate the flowers of the olive tree and normally, without pollination, there is no fruit. It is the wind that allows the flowers to come into contact with each other. Too much rain, too much humidity, a strong wind or no wind at all prevent pollination. To flourish, the olive tree needs light. It can live a very long time, starting to age around 150 years. It takes about seven years for productivity to become established and 35 years for it to reach good productivity.
Only 5 to 10% of the flowers will produce olives. Fortunately, the number of flowers is enough to ensure a sufficient production.
Emblem of Provence, the olive tree is everywhere. Every village has one. To admire olive groves in bloom:
- in the Alpilles: Les Baux, Maussane, Tarascon, Fontvieille and Mouriès, the largest French producer with 75,000 olive trees and known as the olive oil capital.
- in Camargue: in Saint-Martin-de-Crau.
- in the Nice area: Nice, Grasse, Levens, Castagniers, Tourette-sur-Loup, La Trinité-sur-Loup.
- in the Var: Draguignan, Flayosc, Lorgues, Le Luc, Besse-sur-Issole, Carces, Le Val, Aups, Cotignac, Tourtour, Salernes, Tavernes, Varages, Le Beausset, La Farlède, La Cadière, Le Castellet, Barjols, in the Fayence area.
- in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence: Les Mées, Lurs, Manosque, Oraison.
A visit to an olive grove and an oil mill: go to the Bastide du Laval mill in Cadenet, which has an estate of 30 hectares. Information: bastidedulaval.com/en/pages/18-contact-and-access
A stroll in the Provençal countryside: we recommend this very instructive brochure by the Alpilles Regional Natural Park: parc-alpilles.fr/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/05/Fla%CC%82nerie-entre-les-oliviers.pdf
From Flower to Fruit
At the end of April and the beginning of May, cherry trees are adorned with pretty white or carmine pink flowers, grouped in small bunches. They appear in large numbers before the leaves. Their blossoming indicates that spring is well established, that the cold weather will not return for a long time, and that it is time to prepare fields and gardens for summer. The cherry tree thrives on land that is well exposed to sun and air.
Growing a cherry tree is a long process. It will not start producing until eight years after it has been planted. To obtain optimum production, you will have to wait another four years! Patience, patience!
The cherry harvest takes place between the end of May and mid-July, depending on the variety.
You will come across cherry blossoms on your visits, but if you want to be sure to find some on your way, go to:
- The Cherry Road: the dream itinerary! Admire the blooming cherry trees in 21 communes located in the heart of Provence's best cherry farms which receive 4,800 hours of sunshine per year. The Monts de Venasque cherry is the first top-of-the-range brand created in France in 1978. The Coteaux du Ventoux cherry is the first French cherry to obtain the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI); it was registered on 11 June 2021 by the European Commission, giving it Europe-wide protection.
- Le Barroux
- Le Beaucet
- La Roque-sur-Pernes
A Tasting: La Maison du Fruit confit, in Apt, offers cherries in jars, candied cherries, green or yellow cherries, cherry syrup or Morello cherry jam. A pure delight!
La Maison du Fruit confit, 538 Quartier Salignan, in Apt
A Festival: the Festival of the Cherry and the Land in Venasque, in June: to celebrate the cherry, the brotherhood of the Cherry of the Mounts of Venasque organises a day devoted to the tasting, and the sale of cherries of the Mounts of Venasque and products of the soil of Ventoux. Information: ventoux-saveurs.fr
Nothing but Flowers
Is France the other tulip-country? Indeed, there is a little bit of the Netherlands in Haute-Provence! In April, the landscape is adorned with a thousand colours: red, pink, purple, white, yellow... the views are magnificent! Particularly with the snow-covered Alps in the background.
The tulip bulbs come from the Netherlands and are planted to take advantage of the climate and reach their adult size more quickly. Once the tulip has bloomed, it is cut and the bulb is sent back to its country of origin where tulip season is just beginning.
Tulip fields are mainly concentrated in the Alpes de Haute-Provence. To admire them, go to:
- opposite the village of Lurs, on the road between La Brillane and Lurs
- between Manosque, Forcalquier and Sisteron
They can be seen in the Vaucluse:
- in Jonquières, near Orange
A book: la Tulip. Fleur de passion, by Laurent Lieser, Société nationale d'horticulture de France, 2004
Do we really know the tulip? Do we know, for example, that it has a rich history that combines legends and realities? That the production of bulbs and cut flowers has developed into a veritable industry in order to meet the ever-increasing commercial demand. That there are no less than 150 botanical species ? In clear and accessible language, author Laurent Lieser succeeds in bringing a new perspective to this mythical plant. He deals with the origin, history and different aspects of tulip cultivation. Describing all the species currently known and using quality photos, the author succeeds in fascinating both gardeners and amateurs.