Lavender fields on the Valensole Plateau in Provence, France
Fragrant fields as far as the eye can see. Lavender fields on the Valensole Plateau in Provence, France
We're sorry. The scratch 'n' sniff option was not ready in time for this photo, so you'll have to imagine the intoxicating fragrance wafting over you... Today we're in the lavender fields that carpet the Valensole Plateau in Provence, France. A rolling 300 square miles of flowers color the landscape as far as the eye can see. Vincent van Gogh spent time here, and featured lavender in some of his paintings. June is the start of the lavender season, and though it runs till August, peak viewing (and smelling) time varies a little with fluctuations in temperature and rainfall. There are lovely villages that you can meander while visiting the lavender fields, stopping for a pastry or crunchy-soft baguette at an outdoor cafe.
Hot, dry summers and plenty of sun help lavender thrive in the South of France and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. While we think the sight of lavender fields is relaxing in itself, the herb is always in demand for its essential oil, which lends a soothing scent to cosmetics, cleaning products, and even food. Some studies suggest that lavender can improve your sleep, reduce pain and inflammation, and relieve anxiety and depression. The powerful plant was also used as an antiseptic in days gone by, as it has antimicrobial and antiviral properties.