The purple lavender fields in Provence – who can resist them?
Three weeks ago I left for a long weekend in Provence, my third time in a row to see the lavender fields. The previous times I went to La Vudèle near the charming village Quinson and the Gorge de Verdon. This time I decided to explore a new area, Valensole. I also decided to rent a car, a car is a MUST if you want to explore the lavender fields on your own. The most beautiful ones are definately not in reach by foot nor by bus. I took the TGV fr Paris to Aix-En-Provence TGV where I had reserved a car from SIXT and then I had approximately 1 hours driving to Valensole. It was my second time renting fr Sixt, first time was when I went to photograph the lighthouses in Bretagne. Given the fact I was satisfied with the experience I chose to use them again in Provence.
I had reserved accommodation on a charming Bed & Breakfast, a room in a 200 years old farmhouse surrounded by barley fields and lavender fields, a few kilometres outside Valensole and perfectly located to shoot the fields I wanted to shoot. My host and her mother were adorable, breakfast was included and I had opted for a table d’hôte and it turned out my host was a star in the kitchen! After a long day of shooting I was looking forward to have a delicious dinner waiting. Since it was still warm in the evening we used to have dinner in the garden…and when it got totally black you could see all the stars in the sky! I was too tired to set up my tripod and do night shots and capture the stars…but I will always remember the magical starry evenings.
The most picturesque lavenderfields are a bit hard to find, so I did research to find the best spots. Next year I might do a map so you can see my favourite spots to photograph lavender fields in Provence. In the meanwhile, I will share two blog posts I found useful during my trip. Lisa, behind the blog The Wandering Lens, wrote this superbe guide: Your Guide to Photographing the Lavender Fields of Valensole . The couple Elisa and Max wrote this article that also was useful: Les trois plus beaux endroits pour photographier la lavande.
I did a daytrip to Arles where I visited the Van Gogh fondation and saw the exhibition “Van Gogh in Provence : Modernizing Traditions”. Can truly recommend it, and also to visit the city Arles which is UNESCO listed and filled with history and art. On my return to Valensole I stopped by at the charming medieval village Gordes. Perched on the edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse makes it obligatory to walk to a spot where you can capture the breathtaking hill town with it’s stone buildings, Renaissance castle and church. The view from this village was also stunning, reminded me a bit of Tuscany with the rollings hills. I can definately recommend you to visit this village, just strolling on the narrow cobbled streets passing by houses with colorful flowers is just a pleasure itself.
On the Saturday I had planned to meet Claudia and Jim, my hosts and now friends, fr La Vudèle. We met at the Saturday market in the village Riez, which I also can recommend. There will never be a time when I won’t visit that market. The man who sells dried lavender flowers remembers me everytime :-)
Even though I did 800 km during my 4 day stay I did not get to visit Roussillon with it’s famous Ochre Trail nor the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque which both were on my list to visit. BUT I will return next year ( I will never get tired of photographing the lavender fields) and I’m looking forward to visit these places then.
Lavender is the Soul of Provence – Jean Giono
Photographing Lavender Fields in Provence:
- the lavender flowers are not in bloom 365 days a year. If you want to photograph the lavender fields make sure to travel there during the blooming season, usually in beginning of July. Note that the harvesting begins already in middle of July. To be sure of when the lavender fields are in bloom I would recommend you to contact a tourism office in the area.
- Best locations to photograph the lavender fields in Provence? Prepare your trip and do research and try to find the locations of nice spots before you go there. The two websites I mentioned earlier are great but there are also other websites on the Internet.
- Best hour to shoot the lavender fields? I would say two hours and until sunset and during sunrise. That’s when you have the most beautiful colors according to me :-) I woke up before 5 every morning to catch the sunrise at 6 !
- Equipement: bring a steady tripod and different filters for your camera such as 3-10 stop ND filters and GND filters, remote shutter release, and a wide angle and a teleobjective zoom are a must! I had my 16-35mm and 70-200mm Nikon.
- Be aware of the bee’s! Lavender fields are indeed beautiful to look at but if you want to walk through the fields be aware of all the buzzing bee’s! Since it’s warm and summer I was always wearing shorts but when walking through the fields I had pants that I pulled on to avoid getting stung by a bee. BUT I did get stung by a bee in the end, one had got trapped in my car which I didn’t notice until I was driving and suddenly felt how it stung me :-/
A car is obligatory if you want to see the most beautiful lavender fields. As I came by train fr Paris, arriving at Aix-En-Provence TGV I found it practical to rent a car from Sixt that is one of the car rental companies located side by side with the train station. I had reserved a Fiat but at my arrival I was upgraded to a Rentault Clio free of charge as the Fiat still was getting cleaned. This didn’t bothered me as it’s always nice to have an upgrade ;-) I had made sure to pay all the insurances, and also for having an integrated GPS and ended up paying 320€ for the 4 days (including a 30% discount), expensive if you travel alone, but it was worth it, especially for the freedom to go wherever I wanted at any time I wanted.
There is a car park just near the car rentals where my car was parked, making it easy to pick up and to return. In case of assistance there is always staff that are ready to help out. I must admit I’m always afraid of hidden and surprise costs once returning home, but it’s never been the case with Sixt during the two times I’ve used them. Make sure to return the car with a full tank and to be on the safe side, check the car when renting it, visible damages should be noted together with the car rental staff, same when returning the car.
The staff at the reception where I went to pick up my reciept confirming I had returned it were very friendly. I had a great experience with them and I would advice, if you choose them, to reserve online and pay upfront for the best rate.
The Bed & Breakfast place I stayed at, a 200 years old farmhouse was surrounded by golden barley field and lavender fields…
A close up on the lavender flowers…do you see the bee’s?
In Provence you will not only see purple lavender fields but also many olive groves…
Olive grove nearby the road
Sunset behind the lavender fields in Valensole
Lonely tree with lavender lining up towards it
Magical sunset one evening in Valensole
Early morning, in the lavender fields in Valensole
On the road
The medieval village Gordes
Gordes is a must to visit when in Provence, you will fall in love <3
Must admit it wasn’t easy concentrating on the road while passing by all the purple fields of lavender…
Another sunset in the purple fields of lavender in Valensole
Thinking of seeing the lavender fields in full bloom? Make sure to go there before the harvesting!
I visited a farm with many cute donkey’s
They were so curious on my camera…
Donkey in Provence
They also had an apiculture at this farm and they offered me a huge jar with their organic honey <3
A purple dream? I had never seen this beautiful lavender field ever in my life..