The blooming fields of Provence have an intense purple color – this is of course due to the lavender, the plant that is probably most associated with Provence. So, how to get to the nearest lavender fields from Nice? When and where does lavender bloom? Read on to find out!
Lavender is the hallmark of Provence. But it’s no less popular on the Cote d’Azur where lavender products are commonly bought as souvenirs by tourists. You can buy these in any city on the French Riviera. The fields of blooming lavender, which Provence is famous for, make a real impression, and the smell of the flowers and sound of bees collecting nectar around you provide an amazing experience! However, to experience this you will need to know when the lavender blooms. The best time is from mid-June to mid-July, though you will also find beautiful lavender fields a bit later in the year.
I am often asked where the closest place to Nice is that lavender grows. I don’t know all the locations, but I can tell you where to see beautiful lavender fields and kill three birds with one stone: you will be able to see the amazing Verdon canyon, the nearby lavender fields, and Moustiers Sainte-Marie – one of the most beautiful villages in France. Plus, it’s also worth going a bit further to Valensole.
Lavender fields near the French Riviera
The best surroundings in which to admire the lavender fields during your holidays on the Cote d’Azur are in the Valensole area. This charming town is virtually the lavender capital of the region. Here you will find not only a lavender museum, lavender oil, and souvenir shops; but also an area surrounded by beautiful lavender fields. Just rent a car and go. First take the A8 highway towards Marseille and then take the Saint-Tropez exit and head inland. GPS navigation will be useful, and you must be ready for narrow and winding roads. The entire route is about 160 km long and takes about 2.5 hours.
The name “lavender” comes from the Latin word “lavare”, which means “wash” or “cleanse”. Lavender has disinfecting properties, and also deters insects. This plant was brought to France, along with others, from the Canary Islands and quickly became the symbol of Provence.
Being in Valensole, you do not have to go looking for lavender fields – it’s enough to drive around just to find bigger or smaller plantations. It is particularly worth going, for example, towards Riez on the D6 road, or towards Puimoisson on the D56 road. The latter town is also surrounded by lavender fields.
If you want to learn how lavender oil is made, go to Terraroma Jaubert (Les Grandes Marges, 04210 Valensole), which is just a few kilometers beyond Valensole towards Manosque. During the second half of July you can even see the distillation process live there! The most interesting places are, however, where lavender is distilled in traditional ways in historic distilleries. You can still find one in Valensole.
When does lavender bloom?
When planning a stay in Provence, it is definitely worth knowing when the lavender blooms. Lavender blooms from the second half of June to mid-July, but some of these fields can bloom even during the first half of August. Basically, the higher the lavender field is, the later it blooms. If you visit the region in the second half of August, unfortunately there won’t be another opportunity to admire these blooming lavender fields anywhere until the next season. The following map of lavender flowerings will help you find which areas bloom at a specific times:
Thinking about the fields of lavender, you certainly remember the most famous postcard from Provence. It shows a stone church standing in a field of blooming lavender. This is the Senanque Abbey, which is, unfortunately, far from Nice. It’s best to visit the Abbey during a visit to Avignon. People who are especially interested in the lavender fields should check out the lavender route (la route de la lavande). Nearly every tourist information point in Provence can provide you with the right maps and information.