Lavender in Haute-Provence
The most-visited lavender fields in Provence are found on the Plateau de Valensole, a magical mesa of boundless rows of purple haze. It is undeniably gorgeous. Not much further away, however, lies a more untouched and magical patch of earth where the finest fields of lavender (the real variety) grow at higher altitudes: in Haute-Provence. Only a small percentage of the harvested lavender in Provence is actually lavandula angustifolia and is grown at altitudes between 500-1500 meters. If one wishes to go to these fields, venture out on a lovely day in mid-July. Make your way to Sault, Aurel, Ferrassières and the surrounding region.
A very magical way to experience these lavender fields is to pack a picnic in advance for the evening meal and explore until sunset. If possible, start the expedition in lower territory, near Gordes, at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, one of the three sister Cistercian abbeys of the region. Lavender is planted in long rows in front of this majestic place.
After taking in the first show of beauty, make your way toward higher altitudes in Sault. Coming from further south in the Luberon, the drive is sublime. The drive will take you over passes as you climb higher and the patchwork quilt of the purple fields will unfold before you. Pull off the road where you see the viewpoint signposts. You probably won’t believe what’s in front of you. The light of this place gives the valley a honey complexion, everything lustrous, the purple fields rich and full.
The lavender here is unremitting. You will pass field after field; stop to take it in as you see fit. Make your way from Sault toward Aurel. Just before Aurel you will find a field on your left hand side that slopes gently down and in the distance the village is perched up on a hill. The beauty is hard to believe. (Here is a gps link to the field https://goo.gl/maps/wSw8yFgserkgn1w67). Continue on to Aurel and then ultimately Ferrassières. You can’t go wrong and the fields will unfurl willingly.
Be prepared to take deep breaths of wonder! If you are in the region in August, there is the annual lavender festival in Sault on August 15.