{take me away № 28 | the lavender fields of provence}



“Lavender is the soul of Provence”—Jean Giono

Here, the sun’s balmy rays fall softly, beautifully on the gently curving hills that pave the way for fragrant rows upon rows of lavender. Here, senses and sensibilities converge in a way only Provence reveals—the urge to close one’s eyes for a few moments, as scintillating images play through the mind—baskets of lavender bunches and handcrafted soaps, sun-kissed shoulders and perfume-laden breezes, of brightly painted shutters and pretty window boxes, overflowing with trails of leaves and blossoms . . .


. . . and as you wander the fields, you can not help but smile as the tiny, buzzing bees make their way from flower to flower, and you may wonder: is this is all a dream? An extravagantly beautiful dream, for certain, and so, in celebration, we invite you to join us as we walk along the intoxicating rows of lavender in Provence . . .


{lavender’s rich history}

Also referred to as “blue gold”, lavender is known as the flower of eternity. It is a wild, historically and respectfully cultivated flower that returns each and every year in the summertime, as seen within the heart of several areas of High Provence: Alpes de Haute Provence, Drôme and Vaucluse. And why? It is said that lavender tends to flourish best in sunny, dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils, making Provence a most ideal spot; lavender needs good air circulation, and very little or no fertilizer. Amoungst the varieties [there are over 200] is the Lavandula angustifolia, which is known to yield a high quality of essential oil, world-renowned for its delicate perfume.


Its history is rich, for it has been used in many ways, for over 2000 years. In fact, history claims that the Egyptians used lavender for perfuming their skin, within decorative urns set in pyramids, even in their mummification process, amoungst many things. It seems that the Romans also used lavender, for cooking and bathing, and for its many medicinal purposes. However, perhaps its benefits truly became known during the Renaissance, as lavender was often used to protect against infections during the plague. And later, during the Victorian era, Queen Victoria became so fond of the flower that she even appointed an official purveyor, Miss Sarah Sprules, and requested that lavender be used throughout castles and for everything that one might imagine. Indeed, flooring and furniture was washed in the scent. Linens too were perfumed in lavender. And so, a trend amoungst the ladies of London grew, as they followed suit, scenting both their homes and selves. With its use and popularity, lavender became recognized as the scent of cleanliness and purity.


{lavender stops & sitings}

It is said that visiting Provence during the months of June to August affords the best views and appreciation of lavender [with the peak in July]. In Luberon, you will discover a large number of lavender fields to stop in at, some located on the high plateaux around Sault, some at the foot of the Mont Ventoux, and some around Apt and Gordes as well; also, see sunflowers and lavender together in July/August here.


According to many, Sault is the most incredible place of all to view lavender, for there are wonderful festivals and events to attend here, and many products to bring home with you, including soaps, oils, perfumes, and more. While there, you must see GAEC Aroma’Plantes as well as Distillerie du Vallon, for a tour of their distilleries. However, on the way to Sault, we also highly suggest a stop at the village of Simiane la Rotonde, postcard-like and sitting up upon a hill, fragrant fields of lavender below.


Additionally, one must see the magnificent field in front of Senanque Abbey, near Gordes. We suggest that you visit in the early morning to avoid large crowds and to capture the very best light. Also recommended, is a stop at Coustellet, for a visit to the fabulous Lavender Museum, which explores the history of the cultivation of lavender throughout Provence. Whether you plan to go on a lavender tour, or explore at your own pace, you certainly will not find a shortage of lovely places to visit.



01 | Hotel Particulier

Perhaps one of the most magical of hotels in all of Provence, Hotel Particulier breaths romance and elegance throughout every inch of its property, from the airy and striking interiors, to the beautifully kept grounds. Just a ten minute walk from the amphitheater, the hotel is located in one of the oldest districts of Arles, called La Roquette. Upon arriving, you may be surprised that you have arrived at a hotel, for Hotel Pariculier seems more akin to an elegant home one might discover in Paris, or a privately owned home in the province by the Napoleon nobility, years ago, for history reveals that it was it was built for the Baron de Chartrous, in the 18th century. Floods of natural light welcomes one to this five-star hotel, awashed in elegant white walls.


Exquisite furnishings, both contemporary and beautifully ornate, finish the spaces with a careful and wonderful balance. And when selecting one of the impeccably dressed suites, [each one designed individually] you will notice fresh flowers and other lovely details. Additionally, one can relax in the Space Spa with a massage or sauna, or enjoy a swim in the pool, set in beautiful gardens. Lastly, there is a notable [and incredibly lovely] restaurant, serving excellent Provençal cuisine. So tranquil, peaceful, enchanting, you may never want to leave.


02 | Chateau de Roussan

Many claim that this stunning chateau, framed by stately trees, needs no description — its vast grounds [made up of 6 hectares], glorious greenhouse, ponds, and castle speak for themselves. Only 2km away from Saint-Rémy de Provence, the hotel was originally built in the XIIIth century, designed by a brilliant French architect. Beyond the chateau itself, the architect designed a memorable façade, decorated with an elegant balcony overlooked by a majestic front wall, similar to that of a theater stage set. Purchased by the Roussel family from the brother of Nostradamus in 1887, it was opened as a hotel in 1951 [the family remains the owners even today]. Indeed, even today, the hotel’s history is lovingly preserved. The chateau contains numerous paintings, an exquisite library, as well as rare and unique objects throughout. And, within its 20 guest spaces, one can enjoy incomparable views, fabulous furnishings, luxurious comforts, and beauty products derived from Provencal essences. Beyond the hotel, step outside and you might stop a family of ducks near the canal, take a walk through the grounds, or to the XIXth century greenhouse . . .


03 | Le Pavillon de Galon

Le Pavillon de Galon is located within just a short walk from the village of Cucuron, and in the heart of the Luberon National Park. Surrounded by a welcoming garden, with abundance of lavender, vines, orchards, cherry and olive trees, this golden country retreat is truly a Provençal dream. In fact, Le Pavillon de Galon sits on eleven gorgeous acres and offers privacy, seclusion and a chance to truly experience a lovely and beautiful way of living. Originally a restored 18th century hunting pavilion, one may feel instantly at home in this charming B&B. Accommodating up to five people, each of the two ensuite bedrooms is equipped with a live-in-kitchen, its own private entrance, and terraces. The spaces are decorated in relaxing colors, original works of art, and plenty of other comforts to enjoy. And for those who wish to dabble in food or just learn something new, cooking lessons are run several times per season, covering classic provençal heritage and revisited dishes.


04 | Hotel D’Europe

Located in the heart of Avignon, close to many wonderful spots to discover, this five-star luxury hotel is impeccably decorated in a traditional, period style, and overflowing in elegance. Originally, it was the Marquis de Graveson who built the residence in 1580, but today, it stands as one of the most incredible hotels in France. Each of the luxurious and spacious spaces [there are 40 rooms and 4 suites in total] contain grand dressers and antique wardrobes, marble baths, and other wonderful details, such as 18th-century key fobs and vintage maps of the city. Upon arriving, one will no doubt be impressed by the lovely entryway, a tranquil courtyard shaded by a magnificent 18th-century plane tree, and bordered by fragrant wisteria. The hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant, La Vieille Fontaine, is often frequented by discerning locals and visitors alike.


[for additional holiday rentals and B&Bs : Provence Properties /// Alegria //// Bastide de Marie /// Chateau de Massillan]




01 | Pierre Reboul

This contemporary restaurant located in Aix en Provence is truly a delight. With its airy atmosphere and sense of excitement, Pierre Reboul is a wonderful mix of bold artwork in pinks and purples, artistic lighting, and bits of wood, adding warmth and an earthy feel. Equally creative is chef Pierre Reboul’s creations — in fact, his motto is, “creative and recreational cooking”, for he thoroughly enjoys playing with tastes, textures, and techniques. The chef believes in good, quality foods, which begins with how they are grown, and the idea that well-grown foods will only enhance the flavours of dishes. He reinterprets classic dishes, re-inventing the menu often for a fresh selection. Dishes such as soft boiled egg and black truffle tuber melanosporum, and profiterole of langres cheese, in combination with his presentation, make for a delightful experience.


02 | Les Terraillers

Located within a previous 16th century ceramics studio, just a little south of Biot, lies Les Terraillers. With a gift for imaginative and sophisticated, high quality cuisine, chef Claude Jacques, Michael Fulci, and their staff create some of the most undeniably beautiful plates. [you almost don’t wish to eat them, they are so incredible!] With a warm and more traditional ambiance, [and a merriment of indoor tables and out] bits of color, and a tribute to lavender in the way of their china, one feels a sense of welcome, almost instantly. The menu changes with the seasons, offering irresistible plates as such as : fish of the day in saffron sauce; roasted scallops with saffron and mussel-flavored cream sauce and leek confit; a tart with artichoke hearts and tomatoes en confit with lobster salad. A wonderful stop for those with even the most discriminating of palette.


03 | Marc de Passorio

Marc de Passorio is one of the most talked-about restaurants in Saint Rémy de Provence—in fact, in all of Provence. Here, chef Marc de Passario believes that the kitchen is personal and creative, and uses only the best products and much attention on each dish prepared. The brightness of the colors, delicacy of the dishes, the subtle fragrances and intensity of taste reveal a careful combination of tradition and modernity, with pleasure and harmony of primary importance. A large stone fireplace lies in the centre of the restaurant, while chandeliers, and other elegant touches invite guests to linger a little longer, and just enjoy; or, if the weather permits, the large terrace, shaded by mulberry trees is equally welcoming during the warmer months of the year. And with delectable dishes such as grilled red-mullet pancake with tomatoes and eggplant, candied baby leek, and pesto reduce juice—the Marc de Passoria is a must on the list of places to experience in Provence.



During the Summer season, Provence experiences rather warm days, but refreshingly cooler nights [though warmer inland than by the coast]. However, Provence is also known for its storms. One might get caught in a thunder and lighting storm with showers at nearly any time of the year, and so, we suggest packing a little umbrella for those unexpected moments, but primarily tucking light daily wear and layers for the evening in your travel cases. As Provence tends to be more on the casual side, shorts, a skirt, or dress is fine for days with silk, cotton, linen and breathable materials a must. And if you plan to visit a number of spots each day, flats, sandals or comfortable heels are often the very best choice for daily excursions . . .


{lavender’s many benefits}

Its vivid color varies from an almost pure indigo to a stunning violet, and often shows up in décor and fashion for its soothing and feminine qualities. Some claim that lavender is a must for any home—whether you plan to top a dessert with lavender, enjoy it in a cup of tea, or use it as part of your healthy living routine. Amoungst its many benefits, here are a few to note :

* soothe a headache & stress by applying lavender oil to the temples
* tuck some flowers near your bed—lavender is known to calm
* dried lavender will repel moths if kept in the closet
* lavender is considered to be an antiseptic
* helps with burns, dry skin, eczema, skin inflammation and more
* dried lavender is said to ward off scorpions [ideal for the south of France] * toss a lavender sachet in the dryer to leave a fresh scent on clothing
* aids in digestion

Note : dried lavender is three times as potent as live, and if you plan to bring dried lavender home, it should last for years


Additional links you might also enjoy : for your beauty routine, a foaming bath, foot & hand cream /// irresistible lavender honey & delicious lavender apricot jam, straight from Provence /// Savon de Marseille squares with crushed flowers /// and lastly, a lovely film & quotes . . .



[images: via alyson watson /// style me pretty /// jour de pluie via pretty stuff /// via meg jurewicz /// kt merry photography, styling by dreamy whites via a previous post /// leszekko1 /// hotel particulier via ecclechic /// lisa /// happy valley lavender /// kt merry photography, styling by dreamy whites via a previous post /// a previous post /// kt merry photography, styling by dreamy whites via a previous post /// pretty stuff /// via amanda jane jones /// kt merry photography, styling by dreamy whites via a previous post /// fashion editorial, photography by katrine rohrberg via {a glamorous little side project}]