Picking Roses in Provence

In Roumoules on the Valensole Plateau, Emmanuelle Ravel cultivates roses, but not just any rose! Centifolia, the variety so well known to perfumers, is her rose of choice. With the help of her flower pickers, she harvests this wonderful scented flower in June. We joined them.
By Caroline Taret
Emmanuelle Ravel arranged to meet us at around 8 in the morning in her fields in Roumoules. We approach her farm with the first rays of sun, and we can already see a line of people standing in front of the rows of roses that make up the fields. These are the pickers who are readying to begin their ballet: for nearly an hour, in lines they will come and go among the roses gently breaking off the open flowers and placing them in their bags. The gesture is precise in order not to damage the rose. All generations can be found in these fields, maintaining an ancient tradition of hand harvesting in Provence, from fields of jasmine to roses. The harvest is carried out in good humor and surrounded by the subtle fragrance of the “centfolia,” as they call it... Emmanuelle emphasizes the importance of harvesting the rose at sunrise to preserve its freshness: indeed, these thousands of petals are then placed in a cold room before being weighed and transported to the Crieppam, the French fragrant plants research organization, about an hour's drive away. This is where the distillation process takes place, never more than a day after harvest, once again to preserve the freshness of the petals. These will become rose water or “concrete” and will be used to create precious fragrances or cosmetics. Many different kinds of expertise combine to conserve the fragrance of the rose of Provence. A tradition to discover in our video!

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