Friday, April 22, 2011

Pourquoi es-tu si belle, Provence? – Southern France

Lavender up the highland
It means...Why are you so beautiful, Provence? The question that I asked myself repeatedly. It is a place where the phase of life allows you to sip your coffee while watching the world passes by. Some people say living in Provence through out the year could be boring but having visited here in both seasons of summer and autumn, I have no complaints. I would say this region remains charming all through out the year. With several activities and events going on in summer, Provence is bustling with tourists but approaching autumn everything slows down.

Avignon is a small town but complete with all the needed facilities for tourism, making it a good base to tour Provence. From Paris the high speed TGV swifts us to Avignon in 2 hours 15 minutes. With such efficient service, all the hassle of a long drive from Paris to Avignon (742km) is cut short. June and July are the best months to visit Provence with the lavender fields in its full bloom.

There are several group and private tours available from Avignon if driving is not for you. We took a whole day lavender tour up the mountain, visited the lavender town, Sault, Lavendar Museum and Gordes. The road up the mountain is very narrow and we’re glad we did not drive. But as soon as we reached the higher grounds, the purplish sea of lavender became visible and the beauty is indescribable. The moment we got out of our vehicle the sweet scent of lavender surrounded every space we crossed and the air we breathed.

Here is the place to shop for these sweet aromatic stuffs. Amazingly, it takes loads (about a ton) of lavender to produce 5-10kg of high quality lavender essence. Made by the locals with high quality standards but no brand attached to it…the price is reasonable. Apart from the lavender, they also produce vegetable based soap with citrus, lavender, olive and lily scent.
Lavender field
My favorite souvenir from Sault.
 Spray the lavender essence on it and your clothes smell heaven

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