Last July we took a road trip from La Spezia, Italy to Provence, France. It was a bucket-list trip for me. I’ve dreamed of going to see the lavender in Provence since I was a young girl. But not just any lavender field was gonna do. I had to the see lavender that dressed the fields of the Senanque Abbey . And as the very amateur “photographer” ( I use the word photographer very loosely) that I am, I had to get that million dollar shot that I’ve seen on so many postcards or travel channels of the Abbey with plush lavender decorating its fields all around.
I’m not your “typical” girl into roses and flowers in general. But, I may have a slight obsession with sunflowers and lavender. In fact, I’d always dreamed of seeing coated fields of each in the height of their season. When we decided to take this trip, I was beside myself I couldn’t believe that after years this dream of visiting the Senanque Abbey in the height of its lavender season was coming true. I got my camera all ready and packed lightly and we were off.
Just an FYI, I never intended to do a blog post on this trip so my pictures aren’t all the quality I would’ve liked for a blog post. I decided to do these series of posts simply because while being on lockdown I started feeling very nostalgic for my family who is across the ocean and then I thought about this amazing trip we did together last year and I just felt like sharing. Not to mention when I took this trip so many reached out to me on where we stayed and what local places I recommended seeing. So hopefully you enjoy taking a virtual trip with me down memory lane.
As soon as we entered into the Provence area patches of intense purple fields were popping up all over the hills. I’d never seen anything like it! The rich hue and vibrant splash of color randomly spread over the fields. I couldn’t waste time. I screamed, “lavender fields stop the car!” Thankfully, all the passengers were so patient as this happened several times.
The area was countryside all around so there were little if any cars on the road, so we immediately pulled over. I ran out so fast to the edge of the road trying to capture the perfect shot, and of course that means like taking 50 shots of each view cause out of 50 you’ll get that one perfectly captured shot. If you’re a perfectionist like I know you get me (insert smirk).
We stayed in the town of Gargas, which was central to all the lavender fields and nearby sights we wanted to see. It was the perfect spot to do day trips from for each place we wanted to visit. Along the way to the Senanque Abbey, from the town of Gargas where we were staying, glimpses of lavender fields were popping all over the place. But not until we actually reached the Abbey did I finally get sight of the plush deep purple lavender fields I was dreaming of. I literally starting dancing and maybe even letting out a squeal or two as I jumped and twirled in the air!
I had read a lot of blogs prior to coming the Abbey to know when the perfect time was to visit, the best hour to take photos for lighting and for less crowds. We went July 5th-7th and the timing was perfect. The lavender was in full bloom and the crowds were at minimum. We also cam first thing in the morning to see the Abbey which worked out great for two reasons. One, because there were only a handful of people there, compared to when we were leaving everyone started showing up. Two, because parking is rather limited and we found parking immediately.
Unfortunately, while we were there the Abbey was closed and no tours were being given. I don’t know if that was something temporary or permanent but keep that in mind in case to check out the information on that if you are wanting to get a guided tour inside. Once you see the lavender fields and stroll through the grounds around there’s really not much to see.
If you’re just a regular tourist that likes to see what you came to see and keep moving a half an hour is plenty of time. If you’re like me, you’ll want to take a hundred photos, smell the lavender, close your eyes imagining what was taking place around you in its hay day, and just overall marvel at the history and beauty of it all. If I was on my own I probably would’ve sat outside and just soaked up the ambiance of everything I was surrounded by.
The beauty of getting such an early start was that by 9am we were finished just as all the crowds started showing up so it was totally worth it. Another benefit was it was in the midst of a record breaking heat wave of not only extreme heat but high humidity levels so getting an early start kept it so much more enjoyable. When packing I highly recommend including a water bottle that you can take with you, you’re probably gonna need it if it’s the middle of summer.
From the Abbey we headed off to the nearby historic, quaint village of Gordes. I’ll be doing a separate post on that to share all the beauty and gallery of photos I took there, you know me there’s never a lack of photos!