Writing this post brings back many sweet memories of Provence. We spent our days driving on country roads that took us through a maze of lavender, sunflower fields and endless rows of vineyards. It was mid-July and the sun was beaming brightly but the weather was still cool and made it pleasant for us to roam and wander. The evenings are a bit brisk but the sunsets behind the valleys and mountains are incredibly romantic.
The lavender fields stay in the same location each year but the sunflowers change. But there is plenty of them so don’t worry! The best time for visit to see both lavender and sunflower fields would be in July. This year, the lavender harvest was early due to the weather. Lavender are velvety blue when they first bloom around mid to late June and turn a lighter lavender, grey-ish shade as they age. If you’re aiming to see the gorgeous blue shade, visit in late June/early July. I came on July 14 this year and a lot of the fields have already started to lighten and a few already harvested leaving on the green rows to be seen. Most people visit the plateaus of Valensole to see the lavender fields making it very busy when tons of tourists but there are many fields spread out all around the region. The best thing to do is drive all around even in the southern region. We drove from Rians to Quinson towards the Gorge and found many empty blue fields in this region. You’ll also get an amazing view of the beginning of the Gorge du Verdon on the left side before you enter Quinson.
Sunflowers can be seen in the later part of summer around mid July to August and can grow very tall, making a fun photoshoot if that’s what you’re aiming for. I found plenty of golden fields when we were in Tuscany(check it out here if you haven’t already) so lavender was our main objective here in Provence. A view sunflower field here and there does make me smile though. Some fields are so close to the lavender as well, which makes for an even more perfect photo!
We stayed in Rians which is a small town about an hour drive from Marseilles. Our hosts were the sweetest couple who mapped out our entire adventure. Detailing every route we needed to take to see the blue lavender fields and which road most picturesque. We stopped in several towns along the way from St. Julien to Moustiers-Saints Marie and the magnificent Gorge du Verdon! The countryside makes for a lovely drive and several picture perfect picnic opportunities. We spent the French Independence Day with them, a night we won’t forget…filled with fireworks, wine, travel stories and a homemade French supper that happily filled our stomachs as well as our hearts. I’d highly recommend them to anyone visiting the region, they’re simply the sweetest couple (whom we both admire). Their home is called Villa Sainte-Victoire in Rians overlooking the famous Provençal mountains.
We also visited L’Occitane en Provence while we were here as their base is in Manosque. The tour is definitely worth it and it’s free! Much of the lavender grown in this region actually goes to L’Occitane to produce many of their products. The rest is for artisans to make soaps, perfumes, oils, and even ice cream! We tried some lavender sorbet and it definitely has a punch. I bought home a jar of honey made from the busy bees that buzz all day in the fields working hard to make such amazing honey for me. There’s so many beautiful places in this region and it saddens me that I was only able to stay for such a short time. We drove to Aix-en-Provence on our last day to take the train to Paris. But I’ll have to definitely return to explore more of the beautiful region of Provence and all of its charming towns.