A visit to Provence

 

It’s natural, it’s aromatique, it’s medicinal, it’s edible, it’s long lasting, it’s decorative – what more could you want?  It’s beautiful, it’s blue – LAVENDER BLUE !!  Rows and rows of this magnificent herb display their beauty during June and July in the fields of Provence.    

On my last trip to Provence, I took a more academic approach in appreciating the wonders of this revered herb.   A visit to the Lavender Museum in Coustellet offered insights that increased my respect for the growers as well as their herbal crops.  The shiny, copper stills, some dating back to the 16th century, have played a major role in lavender distillation.  How their design captures the essential oils is more complicated than I could imagine.  I will spare you the scientific explanation, but know that significant knowledge goes into the production.

And, not all lavender is created equal.  French lavender and lavendin both originated in France, but have different qualities.  True, French lavender is grown at 1800 ft. which contributes to its sweet, smooth scent; lavendin sprouts up at 1000 feet presenting a stronger, more camphor aroma.   As one specialist said, “you go up in the Luberon Mountains for the scent and to the lower altitude for pictures.”

Of course, there is the shopping for prized lavender creations in Gordes, Rousillon, Les Beaux and other villages in the Luberon region.

If you look carefully at the second photo in the first row above, you will see nestled behind the lavender bags colorful lavender wands created by local Provence artisans.  Pierette Designs stocks beautiful lavender wands that make great gifts.  Or, for your personal use, hang one on your bedpost, display several in a bouquet, or use them to scent your clothes.  

Always my return home brings with it the lingering scent of lavender in my luggage, the need for my daily dose of lavender tea, and the illusive vision of a backyard full of lovely lavender blue.

Kathy