Valensole, land of lavender, almond trees and cereals
Valensole is a symphony of colour all year round : in March, almond blossom is highlighted against the backdrop of the snowy Alpine peaks ; in July, fields of blue lavender and golden corn sway in the breeze ; In November, ploughed land of multiple shades of ochre stands out against the stark winter sky.
Valensole lies in a fold of the plateau which bears its name, on the edge of the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon. It offers all-year-round tranquil beauty and sunshine together with a peaceful, measured way of life. The village certainly lives up to its name which comes from the Latin words vallis and solis, meaning the Valley of the Sun ! The village is shaped like an amphitheatre and clings to the side of the hill like a swallows nest, sheltered from the Mistral. Through the centuries its ancient narrow streets have perpetuated the way of life typical of Haute-Provence.
Stroll through the network of tiny streets in the old town, steeped in centuries of history, to the church of Sainte-Maxime, originally built in the 13th century, then extended in the 16th century when the name of Saint-Blaise was added. Admire fountains and wash pools, doors and knockers, ramparts and the ‘ Fédération Clunisienne’ created to celebrate the millennium of Saint-Mayeul, 3rd Grand Abbot of Cluny, born in 910 at Valensole where he is honoured on Trinity Sunday in May. Covering almost 12,700 hectares, Valensole is one of the largest communes in France and is nicknamed the ‘Granary of the region’ in reference to the 800km² Plateau de Valensole, dedicated essentially to growing lavender and cereals.
To share their experience of growing, harvesting and distilling lavender, producers give guided tours of their farms, distilleries (which you can smell several kilometres away !) and farm shops stacked with perfume, soap and essential oils.