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Provence Holidays

Admire the Spectacle of Nature

Lavender

Nothing but Flowers

The flowering of this emblematic flower of Provence, which is known as "blue gold", begins in mid-June in the plains and continues until the end of July in the mountains. From May onwards, the stems begin to rise, then in June, with the rise in temperature, the flower spikes appear and the fields turn pale blue-grey, mauve, a hue so particular that it has become a colour! This magical moment lasts between three and four weeks and gives rise to landscapes of rare beauty. When the plant has produced a lot of essential oil to protect itself from the heat and drought, it is ripe for harvesting.

Enchanting Places

Lavender can be found everywhere, but here are a few places where you won't miss it!

  • In the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, in July, the Valensole plateau is the most famous place to admire the lavender fields as far as the eye can see!

And in the villages of Montlaux, Cruis, Saint-Etienne-les-Orgues, Ongles, Lardiers, Saint-Michel-l'Observatoire, Banon, Simane-la-Rotonde, etc.

  • in the Vaucluse, on the Claparèdes plateau.
  • in the Vaucluse and the Drôme, on the Albion plateau or Pays de Sault.
  • in the northern Luberon, in Lioux, Roussillon, Joucas, Gordes.
  • in Avignon, in front of the Saint-Bénezet bridge.

Treat Yourself

A visit: the Agnels distillery, on the Claparèdes plateau. The Agnel family invites you to share their daily life by attending a traditional distillation. The visit lasts about an hour. It is also possible to visit the lavender fields with a guide. Information: lesagnels.com

A hike: the Chemin des Lavandes, in Sault, is a 5-kilometre walking loop in the heart of the most important true lavender production area in Europe. This walk, which takes less than two hours and is accessible to all, aims to help you discover all the facets of this blue gold, thanks to its explanatory panels. To be done in July: wonder guaranteed!
In Sault, follow the D164 towards Mont Ventoux. At the first hairpin bend, turn right and follow the sign: Le chemin des lavandes. Park on the car park on the right, after the hamlet of Le Vallon. Details on: visorando.com.

Poppies

From Flower to Fruit

Poppies begin to bloom in May and grace us with their presence until September. Their long, green, hairy, fragile-looking stems and slightly crinkled red petals, resembling "cockerel" crests, from which these wildflowers take their name, immediately bring to mind the famous painting by Claude Monnet. They thrive in freshly disturbed ground, such as cultivated fields and wasteland. They can therefore be found along paths and roadsides, in vineyards and fields. The fruits are hairless capsules containing a large number of black seeds that are easily spread by the wind. Did you know that in Provence, poppy petals are used to make syrups, preserves and ice cream?

Enchanting Places

To admire whole fields of poppies, go to :

- in the Bouches-du-Rhône :

  • near Lambesc, Saint-Cannat and Tarascon
  • between Tarascon and Avignon, towards the abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Frigolet
  • at Roques-Hautes, near the village of Beaurecueil.

- in the Luberon :

  • at the foot of the Roquefavour aqueduct
  • in Jouques
  • on the Bèdes plateau

- in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence :

  • on the Valensole plateau

Treat Yourself

A tasting: L'Art glacier, in Ansouis, offers homemade poppy ice cream: let yourself be tempted!
L'Art glacier, 767 Chemin des Hautes Terres, in Ansouis.

A book: Gentil Petit Coquelicot, by Audrey Houlès, photos by Camille Moirenc, published by Equinoxe, 2011.

From its etymology to botany, grandmother's remedies, drinks and its many culinary uses, the poppy reveals itself throughout these pages, satisfying our curiosity and arousing our admiration. Sayings, proverbs, inspiration for painters and writers, the poppy is presented here in all its forms. Let us be charmed by this "gentle" flower "and may our hearts open every day to the freshness and radiance of poppies", as Christian Bobin poetically writes.

Sunflowers

From Flower to Fruit

The sunflower takes its name from the Italian girasole, which means "that turns with the sun". This plant, whose yellow flowers are grouped in large flowerheads, can reach a height of 4 metres. It is drought resistant and thrives in warm climates. In Provence, sunflowers begin to flower between the end of June and mid-July. Harvesting usually begins in early August. They are grown for their seeds, which are rich in high-quality edible oil.

Enchanting Places

To admire the sunflower fields, you have to go to :

- in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, on the Valensole plateau: to admire the magnificent sunflower fields and the endless lavender fields!

- in the Luberon : on the road to Bonnieux, towards Lacoste, Gordes and Château-du-Bois, or towards Rustrel, to discover an explosion of colours thanks to sunflowers and lavender !

- in the Vaucluse: on the road to Carpentras which leads to Avignon. Or on the road between Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Noves. Near Orange, Manosque and around Puy-Sainte-Réparade.

Treat Yourself

Know the legend of the sunflower: this flower appears in an episode of Greek mythology. Clytia, a water nymph, was the lover of the Sun God, Helios.

He fell in love with Leucothé. In a fit of jealousy, Clytia denounced the young girl to her father, Orchamos. Furious, he decides to bury her alive. Helios tries in vain to rescue her. Saddened and betrayed, he refuses to fall back into Clytie's arms. So she sits naked on the rocks and lets herself wither away, contemplating her beloved Sun for days. Slowly, her body takes root and transforms into a sunflower.

Oleander

Nothing but Flowers

The oleander is widespread in the Mediterranean region and can grow to over 4 metres in height. It has single, double or triple flowers, white or pink, but also yellow, orange or red, and dark green, elongated leaves. It is a shrub that likes full sun, sheltered from the wind. It is easy to care for, does not require much care and flowers from June to October. Its flowers have a strong, spicy and sweet fragrance. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful summer flowering shrubs.

Enchanting Places

The oleander is everywhere! In private gardens, in parks, on squares. But there are some sumptuous gardens in Provence where you can admire it among many other species of flowers.

  • Visit the Mediterranean Garden of Roquebrun to admire a local plant palette of more than 4,000 plants and 350 species. A magical walk to discover the shapes and colours of the typical Mediterranean vegetation and botanical curiosities. Amongst this abundance of flowers, you will find oleanders, but beware, you must come in June to admire them in flower.

The Mediterranean Garden, Place de l'Eglise, Roquebrun.
Information: jardin-mediterraneen.fr.

  • The Domaine du Rayol, in Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, which has 13 gardens on 20 hectares. This space is a planetary garden: it gathers plant species living under the same type of climate in different places of the world. Climatic conditions similar to the Mediterranean can be found in Australia, subtropical Asia, New Zealand and South Africa, for example. The oleanders are mainly found along the historic pathway through the site.

Domaine du Rayol, Le Jardin des Méditerranées, avenue des Belges, in Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer. Information: domainedurayol.org.

  • Jardin Antique Méditerranéen, in Balaruc-les-Bains. This domain apprehends the Mediterranean flora and its uses in the Greek and Gallo-Roman worlds. You will find oleanders among the plant compositions.

Ancient Mediterranean garden, rue des Pioch, Balaruc-les-Bains. Information: patrimoine.agglopole.fr.

Treat Yourself

Take an oleander home: stop by a nursery to choose it. Les Lauriers du pont du Gard is the French specialist in oleanders. Not to be missed if you are in the area. Information: leslauriersdupontdugard.fr.

Admire the Spectacle of Nature