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Lavender Season

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Ah! Lavender… is there anything that better symbolizes Provence than lavender fields?

I once accompanied a group of New York artists to Provence in March and although the colors of March in Provence are quite rich in comparison to New York or Maine colors at that time of year, these ladies were disappointed: intellectually they knew not to expect deep purple lavender but in their heart… this was not Provence! Although reason tells us otherwise, we want to see the lavender of our imagination in Provence no matter when. Could you imagine Maine with no lobster?

I’ve organized many trips to Provence over the past 20 years but in order to stay away from crowds and the heat, most have been in March, April or May.

One year, my friend and student, Rita, who is an artist, speaker of several languages, avid traveler and, eternal lover of all things French, convinced me to organize a trip that would enable us to experience the renowned Provence lavender. For lavender to be in full bloom and for all the fields to diplay their lovely rows of purple flowers… we had to go at the end of June, beginning of July. So we did…

We were a small group of brave souls willing to withstand high temperatures with little air conditioning – we are after all talking about France! – but the pay-off was spectacular! I tried to think of activities that would give us a little reprieve from the punishing heat – in all honesty, it is such a dry heat that it is quite manageable – and in doing so we ended up straying all the way to the Mediterranean coast for a boat ride in the Calanques de Cassis. The rest of our activities kept us around Saint-Rémy de Provence for a day devoted to Van Gogh, Nostradamus and Petrarch; Sault and Venasque for our lavender fix; Fontaine de Vaucluse, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue; Lourmarin and many other lovely villages in between for us to meet local artisans, artists, historians and learn about the area.

A wonderful time… all in purple, all in sweet scents, and deliciously fresh food from the region! Maybe it is time to go back…  













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