Long before we started our journey, I had a vision in my mind of what traveling in Europe would look like. It looked like Lisa, Jake and me, walking among the Lavender fields of Provence in the south of France. But the region was quiet large and Lavender fields are often private we didn’t want walk over local farmer’s harvest, so after some research we determined that the best and easiest place for us to find those endless purple flowerscapes we had seen in the magazines was the small town of Valensole.
Valensole really was a small town, with limited accommodations. We didn’t want any surprises to spoil the leg of our journey that I was most looking forward to. We decided to opt for a little more luxury by spending two nights in Les Lavandes de La Fuste, a former 17th-century mansion just a few miles outside the town center.
La Fuste itself is easy to miss. In fact, we drove right by it twice when we first arrived. Given the building’s age, it’s not surprising that it reminded me of an old estate, with decorations and grounds that would not have looked out of place in a painting. Though there were only a few rooms to be rented, our Duplex family suite was big enough to sleep four – a good thing since my mother was traveling with us at the time.
The Lavender fields were exactly what I had envisioned too. They were a short drive up the road, and they might be one of the most amazing sights in the world. I was delighted to find out that our hotel was also less than ten minutes drive from L’Occitane en Provence factory plus showroom. We stopped by and Lisa made a purchase (ok, I made a purchase, but Lisa modeled the products for me).
There isn’t a lot to do in Valensole. You pretty much come for the colorful crops and move on. But when we weren’t out taking photos in the Lavender, we spent most of our time in the patio and gardens that sprawled beneath our balcony. Shaded by hundreds of years old giant trees, and secluded from the road. We spent hours walking among flowering bushes, statues and koi ponds. Jake and I talked while Lisa ran from one discovery to another. There was even a cat for her to chase. In a town that requires a slow pace, it was the perfect place to unwind from the drive and escape the heat of the day.
We generally use Airbnb for slow travel because a homelike environment allows us to stay longer and get to know the locals better. For shorter trips, more spontaneous trips, we tend to use booking.com because there’s less back and forth in the rental process. We slow traveled in the south of France and called Avignon our home for half a month. But after deciding that Valensole was the best and easiest place for us to immerse ourselves in the lavender fields, we decided to stay there for two night. We hopped on booking.com and made our last minute reservation.
I don’t think anyone doubts that the stresses of travel can take their toll on the body and mind. The slow pace that we set for ourselves helps a lot, Valensole felt a lot like a vacation from a vacation. We left most of our bulky items in Avignon, and while we were in the countryside, we didn’t schedule anything except sunrise and sunset. It also doesn’t hurt when the smell of lavender permeates your soul every time the wind blows. In my memory, those two nights and three days were mosaic of blessed quiet , soft comfort and dazzling blossoms. In other words, they were exactly what I had dreamed of what visiting the lavender fields of Provence.
Once you’ve made your reservations in Valensole, it’s time to go take photos of the lavender fields. You’ll want to read our guide to photographing Provence lavender for the best locations, and you might consider picking up our lavender field Lightroom and photoshop presets to help make them look just as brilliant as they did in person. And it couldn’t hurt to master your camera first by reading Jake’s e-book, Easy Manual Mode Photography.
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Thanks so much for reading. Happy travels to you in Valensole, the South of France and beyond.