Tiny and fragrant, the Lavender flower not only enchants all who behold it but manages to bring in big tourist dollars along la “Route de la Lavande”, the “Lavender Road”., a wide blue-purple swath that connects over 2,000 producers across the Drome , the Plateau du Vaucluse, and the Alpes de Haute Provence.
Once this flower was described as” the soul of Provence”. The lavender has colored the high plains and brought prosperity and clean and fragrant smells to village life since the Middle Ages. The word itself comes from Latin Lavare, which means” to wash”.; Since its discovery in ancient and unrecorded times, it has been used for anything from perfume to cleansers to tonics to calming the mind.
And for good reasons , today’s trends for natural remedies has proven its innate properties and given it well deserved recognition. Not only a disinfectant, a calmative against stress , preventative for migraine and sunburn, and very effective in treating rheumatism and vertigo. Lavender smells heavenly good. Stylish care beauty products like L’Occitane, perfumers Dior and Gaultier were quick to catch on.
L’association des Routes de la Lavande
Go in season, June to early September ( although the harvest does not really start until July), Phone ( 04-75-26-65-91) http://www.routeslalavande.com has plenty of itineraries that zigzag across the range that is broken up into six main regions. They comprise the vallee de la Drome et Diois; the drome Provencal; Le pays de Sault, Mont Ventoux, and the Luberon; the pays du Buech, the pays de Forcalquier, and Montagne de Lure; the pays de Digne, from the Plateau de Valensole. All through this area there are countless events, hikes and workshops featuring everything from touring with a donkey to seminars on blue Gold and Lavender Honey.
The very popular Moulin de Savoirs ( 04-75-28-15-94) has guided walks through the fields in the Drome Provencal and runs workshops about Lavender, its properties and its essential oil. You can even buy wine and lavender products at the famed Ferme Lavanicole Chateau du Bois, their address is : Les Espagnoles, Lagarde d’Apt ( 04-90-76-91-23). Also Lavender distilled at the Distillerie ” Lavande 1100″, between Sault and Apt ( 04-90-75-01-42). A walk or a bicycle ride in season is like being transported into a maical world, one usually found on a picture-perfect postcard.
Where to stay and eat
Mas de Garrigon. An exquisite hotel , tastefully decorated in classic Provencal style. The hotel has spacious rooms, a cozy library, and view of the surrounding ocher cliffs. It also has the best restaurant in Roussillon, which is a good thing, because the management takes it personally if you pass on their demi-pension offer. The food is definitely superb – Monkfish in salt crust, straw baked lamb with rosemary jus, inventive vegetable courses, plus amazing and wonderful desserts. A very warm & genuine family welcome. Route de St Saturnin-d’Apt, 3 km (2 ml) on the D2, 84220.http://www.masdegarrigon-provence.com
Ma maison, in the valley, 4 kms ( 21/2 ml) below Roussillon, this isolated 1850 has been infused with a laid-back, cosmopolitan style by artist-owners. A big satwater pool, a massive country kitchen, and an idyllic garden complete with lovely breakfast tables romantically seating under shady branches. Their Address is Quartier Les Devens, 84220 ( 04-90-05-74-17) or ( 04-90-05-74-63)- http://www.mamaison-provence.com ( Closed Mid-October – Mid-March)