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Lavender Season in Provence, France – When is the Best Time to Visit?

The Provence lavender fields are a major attraction in the South of France. It’s one of the few places on earth where you can truly immerse yourself in the experience of wandering endlessly through the fragrant rows of purple gold, and breathing in the heady scent.

It’s only natural you’d want to incorporate a visit to these spectacular fields on your next trip to Provence. But when exactly is the best time to see lavender in Provence?

Well, it’s not an exact science. Typically, on official websites and in guide books they say mid-June to mid-July is the best time to visit lavender fields in Provence. But in reality, this is a moving target, and it largely depends on the lavender areas you plan to visit, and the weather experienced in Provence during Spring. There’s also evidence that suggests climate change is bringing the bloom (and therefore harvest) forward every year.

There are several lavender growing areas in Provence, and each keeps to its own schedule.

The good news is that this means you’ll find lavender blooming for longer, you just need to know where to find it. And that’s where this guide comes in. As a local who has been visiting the fields for years, and keeping tabs on the seasonal fluctuations, I’ve gathered the following information to help you plan your visit better, if a visit to the lavender fields of Provence is important to you.

Provence Lavender Fields Season

Lavender, if left to its own devices, would happily bloom for around two months during summer. However, the lavender of Provence is grown for its oil.

This means the farmers must harvest it at just the right time in order to collect the oil when it’s at its most potent and abundant. When I visited Château du Bois lavender farm, they informed me that this is when around 2/3 of the individual flowers on the lavender heads are open.

In reality, this translates to the harvest happening very soon after the lavender has reached its peak in terms of fullness (and attractiveness!).

Lavender harvest in Valensole – 17th July.

The Different Stages of Bloom

When I talk about lavender blooming, I sometimes refer to “early bloom” or “full bloom”. But what does this mean exactly?

Early bloom is what you’ll see start to happen from mid-June (in some areas). The flowers have a purple hue but the individual buds haven’t opened yet.

As you can see from the photos above, the flowers on the left are still closed, but the buds are purple. The Picture on the right shows about 1/3 of the buds in flower. These plants are around a week away from being harvested at this point.

When zoomed out, you’ll see the effect this has when you take photographs of the fields:

Lavender Blooming Season in Provence – In a Nutshell

Broadly speaking, these are the best times to visit the lavender fields of Provence. But continue reading to learn more about the various areas.

Valensole – 15th June

Mid-June: Luberon fields will start to turn violet. Closely followed by Valensole. You will witness the “early bloom” at this time.

Late June: Luberon and Valensole fields will begin to flower, becoming “fuller” as they do so.

Early July: The best time to witness the lavender fields of the Luberon and Valensole in full bloom. The fields in Sault and Drome will start to flower at this point also.

Mid-July: Harvesting begins now in the Luberon & Valensole – but don’t panic, they generally leave a few fields untouched until the Valensole lavender festival in mid-July. Sault and Drome should now be in (or close to) full bloom.

Third week of July: Sault & Drome in full bloom. May start to harvest a few fields – this will continue slowly until early August.

Lavender Areas in Provence

To better understand the lavender season in Provence, we need to discuss the various lavender growing areas, and the different lavender varieties that grow there.

Luberon Lavender Fields (June to July)

The lavender grown in the lower Luberon area is the first to bloom in Provence. And it’s not unusual to witness the first fields start to turn violet from the second week of June.

Lavandin is the most common variety here, a hybrid lavender that produces a more fragrant oil. Although you can find fine lavender growing at the higher altitudes, such as around Lagarde-d’Apt.

I’ve typically witnessed the fields around Le Thor and Velleron to be the first to flower. So if you’re visiting from early June, this would be a good place to start.

As the month progresses, more fields start to flower around the region, including those around Bonnieux and Saignon/Apt areas. There are a few however, that won’t flower until closer to July (such as those at the base of Gordes).

The lavender in the Luberon is typically beginning to be harvested in the first half of July.

Read where to find the best lavender fields in the Luberon here (includes a map!)

Valensole Lavender Fields (June to July)

The Valensole lavender season typically starts at a similar time to the Luberon, if not shortly after, as they’re at a similar altitude. The major crop grown here is also lavandin.

To see the Valensole lavender fields at their best, aim for very early July. The first week would be ideal. Yes, you can see lavender in June in the Valensole plateau, but it will usually still be in early bloom until late June/early July.

Valensole village hosts a lavender festival on the 3rd Sunday of July, and the lavender is usually harvested before this event. That’s not to say you can’t visit lavender fields in Valensole after this date though. As it’s a popular tourist area, some lavender growers will keep a field or two unharvested as a way to attract visitors to their distilleries.

Read where to find the best lavender fields in Valensole here (includes a map!)

Sault Lavender Fields (July – August)

The Sault plateau is at a higher elevation than the Luberon or Valensole, and as a consequence, the lavender producers here can grow both lavandin and fine lavender. As a result, you will witness a longer blooming period that spans from early July (and sometimes even late June) – right through to early-mid August (depending on the year).

The Sault lavender festival takes place on the 15th August, to reflect this later blooming time. Typically, you’ll witness the first fields being harvested in Sault around mid-July, but plenty more will stay uncut through to the first week of August.

As with Valensole, a few farmers will leave a field or two unharvested until the festival to attract visitors to their farms, and to demonstrate the traditional harvesting method (with a sickle).

Read where to find the best lavender fields in Sault here (includes a map!)

Drome Lavender Fields (July-August)

The Drôme provençale has a very similar flowering period to the Sault area. And as they rub shoulders with each other, it’s easy to visit both areas on the same day if you choose.

My favorite areas to visit in the Drôme are around the stunning villages of Montbrun-les-Bains, and Ferrassières. Here, you’ll witness more rugged and wild lavender fields punctuated by stone bories and native bush. The majority of lavender grown here is fine lavender.

Interestingly, Ferrassières is actually the first village in Provence to host its lavender festival each year. With the event taking place on the first Sunday in July. This is a great event to attend to witness the traditions around lavender, if you’re visiting Provence in early July.

Lavender Festivals in Provence

If you’re visiting the lavender fields in Provence, you may well be here when one of the lavender festivals is taking place. These are large events that draw in the crowds, and they’re a wonderful way to learn more about the importance of lavender to the region, its uses, and of course, to buy lots of lovely locally made lavender products!

Here’s when the various Provence lavender festivals take place around the region:

  • Ferrassières: First Sunday in July
  • Apt: First or Second Sunday in July
  • Valensole: Third Sunday in July
  • Valreas (Drome) Lavender Parade: First weekend in August
  • Digne-les-Bains Lavender Parade: First weekend in August
  • Sault: 15th August (every year)
  • Saint-Geniez: Mid August

When to Find Sunflowers in Provence

Sunflower fields flower around the same time as the lavender fields, with their peak being early-mid July. Unlike lavender, however, the sunflowers aren’t harvested until they’ve withered and browned, so you’ll see the fields around for a little longer than the lavender.

As for where to see them – they’re typically grown near the lavender fields, so you’ll see them as you drive around the areas mentioned above.

The Provence lavender season is an exciting time to visit the region and experience these flowering fields for yourself. As the prime period is relatively short, do be aware that it’s also an incredibly popular time to visit Provence, and the roads and attractions will be at their busiest.

If crowds aren’t your thing, perhaps aim for mid-June to visit the Luberon, or late July to visit Sault or the Drome.

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Maria Leo Bettner

Wednesday 24th of August 2022

Hello Nadine,

I stumbled upon your blogs and will be doing your 7 days in Provence suggestions with my daughter in September (just before she does her work year abroad in Madrid!). I love lavender, but after reading this section, I am afraid that mid September will be too late to see the lavender fields. Is that correct? Do you have any other suggestions? We will be in Avignon on Monday 9/12 through Sunday 9/18.

Thank you!

Maria Leo Bettner

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