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  • Writer's pictureKait Henslee

Our Trip to Provence to see the Lavender Fields

When confinement was starting to lift last year, I told my husband this is the year to visit the lavender fields in Provence. The crowds will be dramatically smaller with borders closed, accommodations are plentiful with good cancellation policies, and you can safely distance yourself in a big beautiful field. Luckily, my husband obliged, and we booked a place in Aix-en-Provence. Our trip to Provence was one of my favorite trips thus far. We saw so many beautiful sights, yet had quite a bit of time to relax and recharge.

Day 1 in the Valensole Plateau biking

I’m not the biggest biker, but I knew I wanted to bike the lavender fields. It just seemed like a great way to cover a large piece of area, yet still enjoy the sensory overload of lavender

compared to driving it in a car. After some research, we rented bikes in Aix, put them on our car carrier, and headed to the Valensole Plateau. We parked at one of their many free lots in the actual town of Valensole, and biked an absolutely gorgeous stretch of D8 and D56. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but field after field of gorgeous purple lavender, and the smell was intoxicating. It was everything I wanted the lavender fields to be and more.

After our bike ride through the plateau we stopped for ice cream at the tiny fountain by the tourism office. That little shop had by far the best lavender ice cream of any of the places we tried. There was also a gift shop on the other side of the tiny fountain where I found the best deal on lavender soap, lavender honey (which is to die for), and cute handmade Christmas ornaments of lavender. Definitely a cute spot to stock up on gifts and treats for friends and family.

Day 2 in the Luberon Area

Senanque Abbey

Whenever I am going to an area, I go on Instagram, type in the location under “places”, and see both the “top” and “recent” pictures. It typically gives me an idea of cool places to visit and photograph, and what to expect in that location. When I looked up Provence or #lavendarfieldsofprovence over and over again I saw this beautiful stone abbey in pictures,

so I added Senanque Abbey to my list of must sees. It was an hours drive from Aix, with some very narrow and steep roads toward the end, but it was worth the drive. The lavender fields at Senanque Abbey are certainly not as expansive as Valensole, but there’s something about the beautiful stone abbey with the bells chiming and the lavender swaying that made my heart sing.

Lunch in Gordes at Jardin

On our way to the abbey we passed through a charming town called Gordes. We decided to go back there for lunch and ate at Jardin. Jardin means garden in French, and that’s exactly what they have in the back of their store- a lovely shaded garden. Their food was great, our service was wonderful, and very reasonably priced.

Wine tasting at the vineyard where “A Good Year” was filmed

One of my mom and good friend’s favorite films is A Good Year with Russell Crowe. It was filmed at Chateau La Canorgue which is located in Bonnieux. We decided to swing in there on our way back to Aix. It was a cute little place to see in person with decent wine. Disclaimer: according to everything I read, you can’t mention the film during the wine tasting or the workers get really mad.

Dinner at Les Caves Henri IV

Another thing I do when researching a place I’m about to visit is I look up their Michelin “Bib Gourmand” restaurants. Bib Gourmand is not a star restaurant, but they have food almost as good as a star, but a little more reasonably priced. With that said, I found a Bib Gourmand restaurant (with a kids menu) called Henri IV in Aix for my birthday dinner with friends, and I could make a reservation online. When we arrived we had our own special cave in the back of the restaurant which was the perfect ambiance. The food was incredible and the wait staff was wonderful to us and the children. The kids menu blew my mind. They told us to pick anything off the regular menu and they would just make it into a smaller portion for kids. My one year old ate a gorgeous plate of lamb and our friend's child had a delicious fish dish. They also have a burger on the menu for pickier eaters.

Day 3 in Aix-en-Provence

There’s nothing I love more than a French market. We have a tradition on trips of going to our location’s Saturday market, buying ingredients known for the area, and whipping up a delicious meal. The Market on Saturday is located on the main strip, and parking is great. Buy Calissons the traditional candy of Provence. They also had great lavender vendors that sold various products such as lavender honey, soaps, candles, dried bunches, etc.

Day 4 L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is one of the most beautiful towns with a crystal clear stream running through it and vines hanging from the bridge. It’s truly picturesque. We went on Sunday

which is market day. The markets are great, but very crowded and a little overwhelming at times, especially during a pandemic. Next time we come to Provence, I definitely want to see and explore it on a non-market day. We had a lovely lunch along the river, but it’s important to know that on Sundays you definitely need a reservation. L’Isle-sur-la-Sourge is known for its antiques. There are shops and brocante (flee markets) filled with gorgeous Provençal antiques. My favorite antique shops were Côté Parc, Brocante, and Décoration.

Day 5 Lunch and Wine Tasting in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is my favorite wine, so of course we had to make a stop on our way home. We first stopped and had lunch at Le Verger des Papes which has gorgeous views and great food. Then, we did a tasting at Vieux Télégraphe, which is the ultimate vineyard for Chateauneuf-du-Pape (in my opinion). It’s wine is like velvet in your mouth. I’m in good company in my opinion because while we were there, there was a Michelin three star chef touring the facility with his staff. If you like good wine, Vieux Télégraphe is a must.

Add on Day to Gorge du Verdon, Cassis, and Avignon

The one thing I will say is be prepared to drive to the various sights within Provence. Everything is about 30 minutes to 2 hours apart. It’s not too bad, but by day 5 with a toddler it can get grueling. Because of the two hour drive one way, we did not go to Gorge du Verdon (Verdon Gorge). However, everyone says it’s absolutely gorgeous and worth the drive. Cassis is another wonderful spot with gorgeous views and rosé vineyards. Also a hike or boat tour in the calanques is a must. I hope to write a blog post about Cassiss in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out. Avignon is another great spot. Typically if you’re flying to Provence, you’ll fly to Avignon. They have great shops, restaurants, and beautiful old streets. They also have a beautiful bridge called Pont d’Avignon, which I like to call the bridge to nowhere because it stops in the middle of the Rhône River.

Provence is beautiful no matter the season, but I think late-June to July is just breathtaking with the purple fields of lavender. It’s a must for your bucket list!

For more pictures and videos of our trip check out my Instagram @French.with.a.southern.accent under the highlights titled Provence.

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