The lavender of Provence has a hypnotic pull for almost anyone. Standing in one of the countless fields of Provence is to be overcome by wonder - all senses at once. A good accompaniment for any visit to the fields is the lavender museum in the Luberon.
The museum is the pride of the Lincelé family from Provence, who have been cultivating lavender for generations. They take visitors through a year in the life of a lavender farm. From choosing the seedlings in the spring months to weeding between the rows of lavender (with a hoe or a tractor with claw) in April, May, through the early summer period where the blooms begin. By the summer solstice the lavender is often in bloom. It is watched carefully until the harvest. The museum describes the lavender when it is ready for harvest - the way its fragrance will tell the farmers, the gentle unfolding of the blooms.
Lower altitude lavender is often harvested the week of July 20 (but with climate change and higher temperatures, that has been earlier). Higher altitude lavender will be harvested later. Cut flowers are left in the fields to dry - in the rows, then collected for distilling and processing for perfumes, cosmetics and various products. Plants last about 10 years and then need to be replaced. Soil is prepared in the fall months for new plants to come in. Autumn is also the period when the nurseries are filled with newly seeded pots. These seedlings will need to grow 3 years before being planted in the fields. The deepest months of winter are a rest period, until March comes and the cycle starts again.
The family feel particularly grateful for the bees that grace their fields. They tell how in one hour a single bee pollinates 700 flowers. The honey from these bees is truly divine.
The museum gives wonderful context on the work that is required to maintain these beautiful fields and the tradition of it all in this special region of the world. The museum even offers recipes of delicious typically Provençal desserts that feature fine lavender.
The museum is open 7 days a week in the summer season, with a break during lunchtime hours. If you visit the museum in July or August you can book to see the live lavender distillation.