It takes a lot of adulting to prepare for a trip, from planning to booking, from packing to repacking. Once I’m out there on the road though, the big kid in me suddenly wakes up and takes over, gasping aloud at every marvel I come come across, and giddily rushing to see what’s in store on the next corner.
And certainly, the big kid in me broke free, frolicked and lost her mind in the vast purple playgrounds during lavender season in Provence.
First order of business was a much-deserved break at our digs at Mas Saint Julien in Cavaillon. Although Cavaillon is a okay-ish starting point (as it is near to the well-connected city of Avignon), I would recommend that lavender spotters venture a bit further to stay in small towns such as Sault and Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt, if possible. These are much closer to the lavender fields, and will give you the rustic old world feel to complete the experience.
Our first stop at the Lavender Route was Gordes. Once you negotiate and get past the steep, winding roads going up to the heart of town, a bustling street market greets you and beckons you to sample their cheese, fruits, soap and endless variations of lavender products. The Gordes Visitors’ Centre also give out free maps and itinerary suggestions along the Lavender Route.
Senanque Abbey, a popular stop for lavender spotters, is a Cisterian abbey near the foot of Gordes. Frolic in its scenic yard, or take a guided visit of its halls. Church services are also available to the public.
The lively and very photogenic village of Sault is another favorite stop in the Lavender Route. Several restaurants and specialty shops line its lanes, including one by the ridge, where you can enjoy dark chocolate gelato while enjoying an unobstructed view of the valley below.
In contrast, the almost-sleepy town of Monieux nearby would especially please those who want to meander sans the crowds. In its midst is a small stone church, whose surprisingly cool interior was a welcome refuge from the heat. The main “bustle” was from a charming alfresco restaurant only a few paces away from the church, where you can sit down and congratulate yourself in discovering such a precious, tucked-away treasure.
Finally, we arrived at Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt— and my, the journey was definitely worth this view! A kind local showed us the staircase going up the small mountain, up to the ruins wherein a church still stands.
The kind man also said there would be a wading pool on top; I think he might have undersold it. Who needs fancy rooftop pools in the city when you’ve got this?!
This perfect picnic spot among the lavender fields in Aurel was definitely the highlight of our road trip. Having this entire view all to ourselves, while we munch away at our sandwiches and contently listen to the unruffled hum of nature — it was all exactly what we hoped to find.
One could say that getting to see the lavender in bloom is a serendipitous instance, wherein one happens to be in the right place at the right time. That magic does happen a lot when I travel, but as for this case, conscious effort was poured into planning to make the “magic” happen, so to speak. All very worth it, I must stress.
Even if we sincerely prayed that they bloom forever, flowers are fleeting — that is the reality. It’s all the more important that we make an effort to see, and even chase, breathtaking things while we can, as much as our lives will allow us.