To me, the small pouches with a smelling powder from the wardrobes of my childhood or the modern liquid version of the lavender solution are simple naphthalene. Bleah! Yeah, I know there is no connection, but the both end up on the shelves. So, with an unpleasant smell in my nose, I leave for a trip to Provence, to see the famous lavender fields. I am curious to see if I really am like a moth which flies away as far as possible or rather like a bee who would have its siesta on a flower…
The lavender fields appear very suddenly. Vast, spectacular and very purple. We all take out the phones, the cameras, as if that were the only image we are going to see…
Now, let’s get serious. We are on a paid trip, so I think that for the sum we paid, they would at least let us take a selfie. J
We stop close to a farm and we are let free to wander around in the lavender field. Unbelievable, the smell is not as strong as I imagined. It is quite pleasant. And I find the only sunflower in the entire lavender field in Valensole. I wonder what this thing is doing here… I think she is a runaway from her sisters, because she felt the need to be unique…
And we, the tourists who have landed in the field, want to feel that we are the only ones on the planet who got to such a place, so we take selfies to be enough for all the relatives, the friends and the enemies. J
Agriculture is the most important in this area. The soil is very dry, but people are very proud of the aqueducts built by the romans, with all the channels and the irrigation systems, that proved to be very useful over the years.
We all walk on some aisle or another and then, I have no idea why, as lavender is the same everywhere, we try to jump like goats form one aisle to another, to change the aisle… It is not at all easy. You have to take care not to destroy anything, first of all (not tell you that you are not allowed to pick not even one stem of lavender) and they not to be strung by bees.
Is it raining? No, it is only in my mind, as I dream to have some water over my head, to cool down. J Although it is June, it’s so hot here. And the wind doesn’t blow at all.
Speaking about the wind, I found out that the famous wind Mistral, that is so important for the Provence climate, takes its name from an Avignon poet, Frederic Mistral. He is a very important person to them, as he fought to save the Provencal language and even made a Provencal-French dictionary. In 1904, the man receives the Nobel Prize for literature. (No, not for the dictionary…)
Give me a sledge and step aside, because I want to go down the hill on my belly. (What would you expect? Plenty of sun, lots of imagination hihi).
WHEN LAVENDER BLOOMS
From this angle (after fooling the sun) you can see that the lavender has fresh flowers. It is the end of June. The organized trips start here around the 10th of June, however everybody says that the best month to see the lavender in full bloom is July. With all the heat that may hit you…
Between two lavender fields that we have on our list, we make a short stop for shopping. It is as if someone has blown a purple dust all over the place! Everything you can see around is purple…
I bought some Teddy bears, other people went for soaps or bath salt and many others chose the lavender oil.
LAVENDER AND LAVANDIN
Wow, I am in shock! What we have seen up to now, what we took pictures of and smelled was not lavender! It was lavandin or Dutch lavender. Say what?
Yes, lavandin is what ends up in our wardrobes, by the way. Lavender is rare, it is… crème de la crème. It grows at higher altitudes, over 800 meters, and it is more difficult to harvest, because it has rare flowers on the stem. That is why it is more expensive. Lavender smells different from lavandin.
We were lucky to be told by our guide where to go and that is how we ended up in a small field of LAVENDER! Even if this is not exactly its favorite place to grow.
This is lavender.
It is a good antiseptic and perfect for inducing sleep. I bought a whole box of it haha. I didn’t even care what lavandin is good for!
And this is lavandin.
It came out of combining lavender and some sort of a wild lavender species. It is easier to harvest than lavender and has more compact flowers. And it is cheaper.
We go further on… I already have the sensation that my eyes are no longer blue, but… lavender!J
I’m glad I chose an organized day-trip from Aix-en-Provence because on my own, by car, I would probably have gone… all over the fields to find some lavender.
The area is beautiful. It has very picturesque small towns, some being part of the 151 considered to be “the most beautiful in France”. I will most certainly write more about what I saw here in a different post. It is worth it!