When I think about « Provence », the first thing that comes to mind is wide lavender fields stretched as far as the eyes can see. Then, the feeling of the burning sun on my arms and the straw hat reflecting on my face.
The escape of the day is at Valensole countryside; a small Provencal village surrounded by nature and a huge lavender field.
Every summer, this place is full of visitors and you may even meet a fashionista. It wasn’t by accident that the trendiest French designer “Jacquemus” decide to install a runway in the middle of the lavender field for his latest 2019 fashion show. This beautiful and typical Provencal place has also been an inspiration to many painters and artists over the years.
How to get to Valensole
Are you ready for a little ride?
Day trips are the best. I love driving to a place with no idea what to do next… You drive to a place to visit, then you let yourself get carried away by the feeling of envy. This is how you find the best places and get the most memorable moments!
It is my second time at Valensole, and trust me, it is not my last… I already plan to go this year when the lockdown is over, and we are free again. I Have been dreaming of this kind of day during the entire lockdown. As it will be challenging to travel far away this year, that will be the perfect pretext to go back to this marvelous area!
If you are on holiday or living in the south of France it could be the perfect program for a day escape! It is about two hours and a half from Nice and slightly more than an hour driving from Marseille. The drive is very pleasant, you will pass lakes, villages, artisanal shops with local products, and amazing mountain landscapes!
When to go to Valensole
I would recommend marking a cross on your calendar from mid-June to mid-July. Later than this and you might miss it, as they cut the lavenders to sell it all over the world to make fragrances, body oils, etc.… If you plan to visit, you could also contact the tourism office to make sure you are on time!
Explore Valensole and much more
When you arrive at the “plateau de Valensole”, you are going to be so excited by the beauty of the panorama. However, you might find many people around… No worries! If you continue to drive for another few minutes on the “Manosque road”, the fields will be all yours!
What’s a better view than lavender and sunflowers around you?
A fabulous lunch option is a very simple and lovely picnic, with a Pan Bagnat of course (a local “Niçoise” sandwich). You can stop at any bakery to get a Fougasse (local bread with olives and other yummies), Pisaladiere (a local “Niçoise” specialty, made with cooked onions), delicious cakes and a bottle of rosé… Nothing better than a local picnic with wine!
If you drive 30 minutes from Valensole, you will reach the beautiful village of Moustier Sainte-Marie. The village, full of small boutiques selling Provencal goodies, ceramics and local foods, is in the ranking of the loveliest French villages, which is not surprising to me. It is located between a huge rock and surrounded by old ramparts. Only the most adventurous and brave will walk to the top to admire the view and visit the small hilled church. To be honest with you, I have been to the top once when I was probably 7 years old (absolutely not a long time ago…). But the last time I was there, it was so hot that I didn’t have the courage to climb to the top! From what I remember, the view was amazing …
Then you can walk the small and cute streets, sit next to the small waterfall, and stroll on the flowery bridge. I would recommend checking the tourism office program as several local events – from markets to evening outdoor cinemas, take place throughout the high season!
If you are getting hungry, you might want to stop at a delicious local restaurant called “Coté Jardin”. I found this cute place by surprise and I could not have dreamt of a better lunch. The cuisine is unpretentious and very tasty. Over the discussion with the owner, he told me that all recipes are elaborated by him during the winter periods, and he stressed how difficult is to find the perfect balance for his lavender cake! It was not pricy, and the quality was excellent! My table sat next to jasmine flowers by the rampart, which gave me a speechless view of the fabulous landscape!
On your way back, you could stop at the natural park of Verdon to admire the view and make a jump in the river, otherwise make a stop at the Sainte Croix lake.
Open shoes are mandatory to fight against heat; however, I would recommend having a good pair of closed walking shoes. This would be helpful when walking through the lavender and sunflower fields, or to the mountain! A fresh bottle of water and water spray in the car could be very helpful because the countryside is the countryside, and you may not find a shop for miles sometimes. Do not forget the sun cream, hat, sunglasses, and swimsuit in your straw bag!
Would you add Valensole to your bucket list?