Valensole: Exploring the Lavender road in Provence

The lavender of Provence and its amazing lavender fields are famous worldwide. Even though you can find small lavender fields a bit everywhere in Provence Region, the best ones are definitely the ones of Plateau de Valensole, and we will tell you why in this article.


Plateau de Valensole and the lavender road

lavender field in Provence best photo spot

The main lavender-producing areas of France are Luberon, Vaucluse (around the village of Sault), and Valensole Plateau. Placed at 600 m of altitude, this 800 km² plateau is mainly dedicated to lavender, grain, and trees such as Almond trees and Olive trees. What makes the Valensole plateau unique is first the number and the vastness of its lavender fields: at some places, you feel like you are diving in an ocean of Lavender. The second unique element is the fact that the fields spread over a hilly area, which makes them less monotonous and gives a better perspective.


How long to stay in the Plateau de Valensole?

Best lavender field France ProvencePeople who already visited Provence know that once you're there, you want to stay forever. The Provence countryside is just incredibly amazing, thanks to its breathtaking scenery, its welcoming people, and its delicious products. However, we do know that as a traveler, time is limited. Many travelers only come for a day trip to take photos in the lavender field, which is quite sad. For us, we recommend staying a minimum of two days and one night, but at least three days would be better to have a better overview of this beautiful area. And keep in mind that staying overnight gives you the opportunity to enjoy the unmissable sunset over lavender fields!


When to visit Plateau de Valensole?


 The color of Provence change with the seasons, and you will be amazed whenever you visit there. For example, if you come in early spring (March and April) you will have the chance to see the beautiful white blossoms of Almond trees. However, if you specifically come to see lavender flowers, the period is quite short. It changes every year according to the volume of rain of heat, but the blooming usually starts between mid and end of June and finishes end of July. And the best colors are usually seen during the two first weeks of July.

lavender sunset Valensole

As the region is pretty sunny and hot in Summer, it is better to plan activities early in the morning (before 11 a.m), rest early afternoon, and go out again after 4 p.m. If you happen to go out during sunny hours, don't forget your hat, sun protection and a lot of water.


How to Reach Plateau de Valensole?

How to reach plateau de Valensole lavender field

Unfortunately, it is quite hard to reach Plateau de Valensole by Public Transportation. And even if you succeed, since there are many places to visit that are far from each other, you will end up having trouble for going from one place to another. The gateway to Plateau de Vasenole is usually Aix en Provence Gare TGV (3 hours from Paris, 15 min from Marseille Saint Charles. Be careful when you book your ticket: there are two Aix train stations: Aix en Provence Gare TGV (fast train) one, 18km from Aix city, and Aix en Provence (the normal station, in the city center). From Paris, the Gare TGV is definitely the quicker and the most convenient. From there you can get a shuttle but to reach Aix city center if you want to visit it. Otherwise, you can book a Car at the Gare TGV and drive until Valensole: it takes approximately one hour. As mentioned above, you can also get buses (to the City of Greoux les Bains) but once there again, a car will be needed if you want to visit several places. There are also agencies or private drivers that can pick you up at the railway station and make you tour in the Valensole - Verdon area


How to discover the Lavender road?


 The Lavender Road has been developed by the Tourism Office of the Territory, DLVA (Durance Luberon, Verdon Agglomeration). It's a main road that starts from Gréoux les Bains, goes to Valensole village, crosses the best lavender fields of Valensole Plateau, and comes back to Gréoux les Bains. Gréoux les Bains is the perfect place to start exploring the Lavender field since this small town has a lot of accommodations and restaurants (we will tell you more about it at the end of this article), and is very close to Valensole (15 minutes by car). In Gréoux, don't forget to visit the Tourism Office to get great tips from local guides, free maps and documentation as well as information about the Lavender Road.

lavender in Provence with bike Valensole Bachelas

 In our case, we explored the lavender road in two different ways. First, we booked electric bicycles for a more "eco-friendly" and adventurous discovery of Lavender fields. We rented them at Bachelas Bike Shop in Gréoux les Bains (21 Chemin Neuf). Depending on the bicycle you choose, prices go from 14 to 30€ for half a day, 24 to 42€ for one day. We started early morning to avoid suffering too much from the heat. It really worthed the efforts since we felt much more free, and could take the smaller path where a car can't go. It was also easier to park on the side of the road to take photos, in some areas where there was not space enough for car. You do not need to be a bike expert since the way is relatively easy.

sunset lavender field France

On the same day, late afternoon and evening, we came back to Lavender Fields by car. We put the car in a parking and went walking to enjoy the sunset on the fields.


Some rules to respect in Lavender fields


 Before being a tourist attraction, the lavender fields have been cultivated by local people for centuries. As the farmers need to harvest lavender in summer, it is one of the busiest periods for them. There are happy to offer a beautiful view for tourists, but it should not affect their work. So first of all, never cut lavender in the fields! If you want to buy cut lavender, you will find it in most of the shops around. Secondly, avoid entering the fields. If you do so, do it in the ones near the shops of the producers, where they allow tourists to take photos. All the photos we took are from places where we got authorized by the producers. And when you enter a field, walk carefully on the soil in between the lavender rows. Do not walk from one row to the other, and of course, do not step on the lavender. Last but not least, since this magical landscape would not be there without them, support the local lavender producers by buying your souvenirs from their shops.


Lavender producers of Plateau de Valensole

lavande provence photos

 There are more than 70 producers of Lavender in the area. Most of them are not only lavender producers, but they harvest also Olives, Almonds, fruits, and cereals... And some of them also transform themselves the raw materials into final products, that they directly sell to the customers. We have visited the shops of 3 of them: Lavandes Angelvin, Terraroma, and le Domaine des Grandes Marges.


 All these producers have been harvesting lavender for several generations. Lavande Angelvin and Terraroma are located very near to each other, on the main Lavender Road. These family businesses allow tourists to come and take photos of specific fields that they do not harvest. It's the perfect place to take your photos without risking impacting the field of a producer. They sell their products (lavender products such a lavender oils, soap, cosmetics, but also almond, olive oil, and local handicrafts...) in their shops next to the fields.

LES GRANDES MARGESLe Domaine des Grandes Marges is also not far from the two we already mentioned. We were welcomed there by Françoise Jaubert, which lead this family production farm with her son Alex. The domain has been in the hand of the family for four generations. They produce organic lavender, olive, almond, honey, and Immortelle (Helichrysum arenarium) known for its healing benefits, especially on the skin.


The most iconic product derived from Lavender is the essential oil. But the use of the essential oil will depend on which type of lavender has been used to make it. In Valensole, there are two main types produced: Lavande fine and Lavandin. Lavandin has a stronger scent, longer stems with three flower heads, and flowers are more of a lilac color. Lavande fine has shorter stems and is more compact, the flowers a darker, purple, with one flowerhead per steam. About the uses, the Lavande fine essential oil is ideal for aromatherapy, with for example sleep and relaxation benefits, and can also be used for massage or skin healing. Perfumes usually use Lavande fine as well for its more subtle scent. Lavandin essential oil is used as an insect repellant and provides a stronger and longer-lasting scent around the house. Last but not least lavande fine is edible whereras Lavandin is not. Lavandin is a more productive plant, the products using lavandin are usually much cheaper than the ones using Lavande fine.


What to do near the Lavender Road of Plateau de Valensole?

Except from Lavender Road, there are pretty a lot of wonders to discover in the surroundings. We selected the must-see places here, that you should also visit while you come to see the Lavender Road.


Valensole, a traditional village of Provence

lavender festival Valensole

Valensole is a lively and lovely village that gave its name to the surrounding Plateau. It sits on a hill overlooking lavender fields. Valensole takes its name from the Latin words ‘Vallis’ and ‘Solis’, which mean valley of the sun. The center of the village, a relatively small (3 000 inhabitants) is very well decorated with many flowers, it has beautiful and colorful stone houses. You can really feel the chill Provence spirit in this village, with its fresh fountains, the cicada singing, and the welcoming atmosphere. Every year, during the third or 4th weekend of July, takes place the Lavender festival (fête de la lavande). It's a huge cultural event with traditional dances and music, as well as exhibitions, markets, and workshops linked with lavender.



Les Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon

Verdon Gorge is a 100km long river canyon carved by the Verdon River. Upstream, there’s Lake Castillon, then the pre-gorges, then the Grand Canyon, the Lake Sainte-Croix, the lower gorges and the Esparron lake.


This time we explored Lower Verdon Gorges, a protected natural site that is labeled as a regional nature park. You can walk on the cliff side, through a well secured trail, that also goes to the bottom of the Gorge.

Basse Gorges Verdon Quinson

Another way to explore it is to rent an electric boat or is you are into sports, a kayak. It's a unique feeling to be inside the canyon, surrounded by cliffs! You feel like traveling somewhere very far from France, like Halong Bay.

Relais Notre Dame Quinson

We had lunch at the provencal Restaurant Relais Notre Dame (RD 11, 04500 Quinson), a former post house that became an inn and restaurant. Among all the sunny local dishes, you can try the delicious trout, fished in the lake.



Esparron Lake

Esparron lake

Esparron Lake is a 328 hectares artificial lake created in 1947, as a water reservoir. If it is still a water reservoir (its water is used for furnishing Aix en Provence and Marseille), it is also a unique touristic spot.

LAC D'Esparron activités

The village of Esparron-de-Verdon, perched on the cliff, has a magnificent view of the lake and its turquoise waters. There is a leisure base, where you can rent electric boats or kayaks. The lake is home to an ecosystem of great quality. The waters of this lake are protected from pollution, in particular by a ban on motorboat use.


 There is also a unique boat cruise (the only one in all Verdon) on an electric boat, departing from Esparron-de-Verdon port. "The cruise called "Verdon Croisières" last approximately 1h, with comments in French and English. In summer, the departures are every day (11 a.m, 3 p.m, 4:30 p.m and 6 p.m), full fare 10€, 5€ for students and kids under 12 years old, free under 6 years old. The view from the boat is really unique, over the lake's rocky inlets, and its vertiginous cliffs.



The Spa town of Gréoux les Bains

Greoux les Bains Thermes SPA

The nearby town of Gréoux-les-Bains is an ancient Roman town with thermal baths, still popular for its hot springs ("bains" in French). Its mineral hot springs are at 42°C, containing sulphur, calcium, magnesium and trace elements. There are well know for being very effective in the treatment of respiratory and rheumatic diseases.

cure thermale Greoux les Bains

For centuries, many famous persons have been cured in the springs, such as the sister of Napoleon. Even though the hot springs are used for long-term treatment (several weeks), you can also enjoy a SPA experience in a dedicated section for tourists. The place is very clean and the service of a very high standard, each client receiving a specific program according to its needs. The SPA experience starts from 48€ to 156€. The most unique service is a weightless bath in Kaolin clay!

hotel villa Borghese

Gréoux is also a very picturesque village to discover, and the perfect place to stay in the region since there are plenty of hotels and accommodations available. We stayed in the very nice, 3-starred hotel "Villa Borghese" (Av. des Thermes, 04800 Gréoux-les-Bains) that we particularly recommend.

villa borghese Greoux les Bains

The hotel also has a great restaurant in a garden. You will find plenty of restaurants as well in Greoux, from snacks to high-end cuisine.

hotel et spa villa Castellane Greous les Bains

We also visited the newly renovated Hôtel & Spa Villa Castellane (171 Av. des Thermes, 04800 Gréoux-les-Bains), built around the former lodge of the Marquis de Castellane.

Restaurant villa Castellane

The spa and the fitness area are opening and a mirror pool, with a part covered and a part outside. There is also a lounge bar with a cozy atmosphere.


We also tried their gastronomic restaurant, which offers a fusion cuisine based on local products of Provence. Gréoux is definitely the best spot to explore the region, thanks to its central position, the large offer of hotels and restaurants (as well as souvenir shops), its SPA expertise, and its cute village atmosphere.



Author and Photos: Vincent Sacau