Provence, France. Even though I live relatively close to that part of the world and I’ve seen parts of it on numerous occasions, I never went there when the lavender is blooming and with the specific intent of photographing it. It’s one of those experiences that you know you can easily make, so you keep postponing it, thinking there will always be another chance.
I was also worried, having read some horror stories online, that I would have to fight elbow-to-elbow, for a spot to take my photos from from the edge of the lavender fields. As with many other iconic (or instagrammable if you prefer) locations, Provence during the lavender season seems to have become a victim of its own popularity, with hordes of people fighting for the chance to take yet another damn selfie, just to prove to their friends that they were there.
This year things were different, because I got an invitation from the talented Séverine Blaise to pay her a visit in her summer dwelling in the town of Gréoux-les-Bains. So I decided it was about time I threw caution to the wind and see with my own eyes what the fuss was all about.
I have to say that my fears were mostly unfounded. Maybe it’s because we went shooting before sunrise or in the middle of the night, or because Séverine knows some secret spots, but I was pleasantly surprised by how uncrowded all the locations we visited actually were.
One thing to consider is that the Valensole Plateau, where most of the lavender can be found, is relatively large and contains hundreds of plots of land cultivated with the purple flowering plants. If you go to Valensole, you don’t have to go to the same spot where everybody else goes, because there are many others that are equally beautiful and that almost nobody knows about.
Aside from flocking to the same spot as everybody else, another mistake you could do is to limit yourself to photographing the lavender fields, when the region has so much more to offer, most notably a handful of pretty towns and village perché, like Valensole, Riez, Allemagne-en-Provence, Moustier-Sainte-Marie, Saint-Julien, and more.
The majestic Gorges du Verdon, Europe’s largest canyon, are also nearby. We didn’t have time to explore them this time, but we’ll certainly be back someday.
You can see below some more photos from this short trip that is absolutely worth repeating at more leisure. I’ll be back!
Ugo these photos are breathtaking – LOVE them. You are right, most tourists won’t go early morning or late afternoon – a photographer’s perfect times!!! I am hoping to go next year but i’m curious how long the season lasts?…is it better go in late June early July? Is mid to late July too late or will we get the lavender AND the sunflower fields at that time? (Trying to work around dates in mid July for a friend’s wedding and my mom’s 90th birthday!!) Hope all is well with you!
Thanks Lorraine. High season for Lavender in the Valensole Plateau is usually the first half of July, but of course it depends a lot on how hot it is and how much rain fell during the previous months. Other areas that are higher in elevation have lavender even into August. Sunflowers last for longer, but they told me this year it wasn’t a good year for them, who knows why?
yes always so hard to plan when whether can be a factor. It seemed to me that all the photographers were there in early July. Will have to see if it all works out for us with the dates. We went to Provence so many years ago but have always dreamed of going back during lavender season. Your photos are calling to us!!! Thanks Ugo!
Fabulous images, Ugo! If only Provence wasn’t so far away from Australia!