Lavender Fields of Provence
Nothing screams ‘South of France’ like these beautiful lavender fields we have all seen pictures of. So, when we decided to take a road trip to the South of France, we made it one of our goals to go there! How can we not? These purple flowers, let alone the region itself, are so photogenic and picturesque!
In this post, we will walk you through everything you need to know to plan your trip – from how and when to go to our top photography tips.
Le Plateau de Valensole – how to get there?
Most of the lavender fields in France are located in Provence. If you travel to France by plane, and then decide to rent a car, then the closest airport to Valensole is Aéroport de Marseille. It is about an hour’s drive to the fields. Another option would be to fly to Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur, which is slightly further (about 2h30 of driving). If you choose to explore the Côte d’Azur area, then this would be the perfect option for you.
Lavender fields are found right by the roads, so the best way to get around to see the lavender fields is by car. It gives you more flexibility to go looking for them. There is no public transport that will take you to the fields from any of the cities. You can literally just stop wherever you spot a field that you like!
If you cannot drive, then we would recommend booking a tour. You can book one from Marseille, from Aix en Provence or from Nice you can also visit the Gorges du Verdon. We actually were driving to Gorges du Verdon when we stopped by the lavender fields!
We drove from the UK to France, so we already had our car, but we definitely recommend you rent one if you decide to travel by any other means.
When to go?
The best time to go see the lavender fields is between late June and early July! That’s when they usually bloom, and the entire region of Provence turns purple. Sunflowers are also common flowers in the region at this time! Obviously, it varies from one year to another, depending on weather conditions, etc. We think that this is a safe interval to plan your trip around. Mid-July, the lavenders – and the sunflowers – start being harvested. So, if you choose to visit later than July 15th, you might not see as many flowers around.
We spontaneously planned our trip at the very end of July. We were worried we wouldn’t find any more fields, and in fact, most of the lavender had already been harvested (or were being harvested as we were there!). Luckily, we were still in time to see a couple of beautiful fields around!
Where to go?
We recommend driving through Valensole village, on Route of Manosque (D6). If you want to find spots where there probably won’t be as many tourists, we suggest you drive down smaller roads. There will be lavender fields everywhere anyway – most of which were already harvested by the time we got there. If you plan your trip at the right time, you should have lots of options to see!
We didn’t actively go looking for these spots – we actually found them while driving to Gorges du Verdon. That’s to say how easy it is to find the fields!! It is such a beautiful and enjoyable drive. You can also find somewhere to park the car quite easily – usually on the side of the road. There are a lot of places to pull over.
Plateau de Valensole isn’t the only lavender area in the south of France. You could also go to …
Where to stay?
Okay, now that you know when and where to go to find those gorgeous fields, we need to talk about where to stay. We would recommend you rend an Airbnb around Valensole or Manosque. That will make it so much easier for you to go around and pick the perfect field for you, or visit many more. It will also give you so much freedom in terms of time – sunrise or sunset, you pick!
The most important when it comes to where you are going to stay is planning in advance. We cannot say this enough – plan ahead of time! The south of France is a famous location for tourists during summer, rightly so! You really want to make sure you get the perfect stay, make sure you do your research and plan it well ahead, couple of weeks before is best.
Some things to be aware of!
It should be a given, but it is always good to have a little reminder.
If it is your first time in a flower field, you might be surprised by the number of bees around. There are a LOT of bees! It is important to know what you are getting yourself into – just like Marine did, knowing she was allergic to them. We would recommend coming prepared with medication in case an accident happens. However, most of the bees in the fields will not be interested in you. Sorry, it’s not that you aren’t interesting, but as a matter of fact, they will care more about the pollen than you. These bees are Bumblebees, they don’t sting as ofter as the other types.
Another thing if you plan on going to the south of France around June-August – it gets hot, really hot! Don’t make the same mistake we did, make sure you bring plenty of water. Also, you might want to consider bringing a hat and put some sunscreen on. We recommend you visit the fields closer to sunset time than midday. Plus, it will allow you to take nicer pictures!
Finally, please be respectful of nature when you are out in the fields. Don’t kill the bees, spiders, or other insects. Remember, you are the one intruding their homes, not the other way around. If you simply leave them alone, they most likely won’t hurt you either.
If you are planning on flying a drone over the fields, this is for you. We would recommend finding a nice little spot just outside the field for easy and safe take off. Make sure you aren’t too close to the flowers, or to other humans. Besides being dangerous for us, the propellers can not only damage the flowers, but also hurt or kill the bees flying around. The bees tend to get very agitated when they see, or hear, a drone flying. They might even come and see what is going on by gathering around the drone, which can hurt them, so please be mindful.
Finally, avoid walking across the rows of lavender as to avoid damaging the flowers. Please, don’t remove the flowers from the field. If you want to bring some home or use some for your photos, you can buy lavender flowers and various other lavender products from the local shops. It’s also always nice to help the local community!
Tips for taking nice photos / drone footage
We guarantee that, even if you don’t usually take a lot of pictures, you will have the urge to do it when visiting the lavender fields. They are just so picture perfect! We have gathered a few tips to make sure you take amazing pictures during your time there.
During the hot summer days, the light is quite harsh, so it can be hard to take nice pictures. The first tip we have is to go during golden hours – sunrise and sunset. That will give you the best light to shoot with, and the colour of the skies will complement the colour of the lavender and they will look even more purple. If you are determined enough to wake up for the sunrise, you’ll have the benefit of having the entire field almost to yourself!
Don’t worry if you don’t have a professional camera, you can take amazing pictures with your phone. But if you do have one, we definitely recommend bringing it along!
We used a wide-angle lens (24mm f/1.4) to take all of our shots, but if you bring a zoom lens your pictures will look even better, as your background (the rows of lavender) will look bigger! You can go and check our equipment post for more information.
If you are shooting during bright daylight, I would recommend getting an ND filter for your lens so that you can block some of that excess light. This will enable you to have your aperture more open and you’ll be able to get that beautiful blurry background. You can find more about our photography travel gear and more photography tips in upcoming posts.
As to taking footages with the drone, I would advise you to take them during sunrise or sunset. The reason for that is that bees won’t be gathering pollen at this time, and it will therefore be safer for them! The light will also be better, but similar to taking pictures with a camera, you might want to consider using some filters too.
We hope you decide to give a go at visiting these beautiful lavender fields. Let us know how it went and if you have other recommendations! ☺️