The Blue Gold of Provence

Lavender, the plant that symbolizes Provence, has an intimate relationship with the region. Ever-present to the eye from June to September when it flowers, the little blue spikes possess a strong emotional charge.
By Caroline Taret

We all have memories of lavender. The flower instantly brings back comforting memories, often tied to childhood. Lavender has grown naturally in Provence for over 2,000 years and since the beginning of the 20th century has contributed to the local economy. Appreciated for its medicinal properties, lavender was cultivated for its essential oil in an organized fashion beginning in the middle of the 20th century, notably on the request of the perfumers of Grasse. The arid and sunny mountains of Provence are the ideal terrain for cultivating lavender.

Lavender also presents a beautiful palette of colors, a chart of tones that covers the mountains in rhythmic blue bands. Cultivated fields dot the region, as the colza plant dresses northern France with its bright yellow, lavender belongs to Provence. Lavender is often grown next to lavandine, a natural hybrid variety born from the crossing of lavender with aspic, which creates unvarying landscapes that adorn the mountains with a uniform blue. Lavender however presents a less regular silhouette with its greater variety of colors. But perhaps lavender’s most enchanting quality is its perfume, considered to be one of the most potent natural fragrances.

Flavors and Perfumes of the South
In the form of a moisturizing or cleansing cream, or as an aromatic essential oil, lavender instantly relaxes and comforts. It soothes the senses in the domain of cosmetics and beauty, but wakes them up when the shoots end up on our plates. Contemporary cuisine cannot ignore the power of lavender, often used to flavor desserts such as ice cream, sorbet and panna cotta. The flower pops up amongst the Herbes de Provence and joins rosemary and thyme to flavor white meats especially. It seduces chefs fascinated by plants, like Marc Veyrat or Alain Passard, who waste no time using it in their plant-based cuisine. Careful, the blue of lavender could make you blush with pleasure.

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Sénanque Abbey
84220 Gordes

The blue gold of Provence
The blue gold of Provence
Valensole
Photography José Nicolas
The blue gold of Provence
The blue gold of Provence
Lavender
Photography José Nicolas
The blue gold of Provence
The blue gold of Provence
Senanque Abbey
Photography José Nicolas

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