One of the highlights of visiting the South of France in the summertime is getting lost amongst the endless sea of lavender and sunflowers in Provence. The rolling hills of Provence with clay-roofed villages tucked into the valleys are something that can’t be missed.
The city of Manosque is the the closest city of any size to the lavender fields of Provence. From Manosque, take the D6 towards the cute town of Valensole (pictured above). You cannot miss the fields on either side of the road before you reach Valensole.
TIP: Make sure to get up for sunrise or stay for sunset, the soft light makes for the perfect time to photograph; by 9 am the sunlight is already harsh. Take the time to stop at one of the rustic stands that are set up along side of the lavender fields where you will find fresh lavender soap, local olive oil, and lavender honey for sale.
The lavender fields are intoxicating and so much fun to run through, but the sunflower fields are incredible! (You can see more pictures of them here and learn about what to bring in your suitcase to look Provence chic here). After romping through the fields, stop in Valensole for a bite to eat. The cute bakery in the middle of town is quintessential France!
After visiting the lavender fields of Provence, you must check out the nearby Gorges du Verdon, considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. The turquoise river cuts through a thousand foot high granite gorge and is the perfect way to relax and cool off. You can rent paddle boats, kayaks, or canoes at the lake and enjoy a day of swimming and relaxing, don’t forget to bring lots of water and a picnic lunch! And the drive itself on the road above the Gorge is another adventure unto itself!
We drove from Saint Tropez and made Provence a day trip. It took us about two hours one way, but it was completely worth the long drive to experience this incredible region of France in person. I wish we had more time to explore. If you could swing it, I would recommend staying at least one night in Provence to not feel rushed and truly experience everything this region has to offer.