Nothing prepares you for the smell! So familiar, intoxicating…..it’s a head rush! The smell of Lavender! I have spent years trying to create that smell in various forms in my home in London but it’s nothing like the real thing. A short trip up the A51 from Aix en Provence towards Manosque and a right turn to the Valensole Plateau and you are transported to this purple land. The ever changing colours of Provence are quite something but I think this is the most impressive. You can find it all over the region but a good source told me that the Valonsole plateau is the best spot!
The profusion of bees and butterflies encircle the lavender with splashes of sunflowers creating a colourful natural patchwork effect. I stop to buy some local honey on the side of the road and marvel at this landscape.
I’m not alone. It’s early July and the tourists are hot on the trail of this most celebrated image of Provence. Lavender season is short; lasting just over a month. So it’s understandable that there are tourists aplenty here. But I’m not searching for the perfect lavender picture; I’ve seen hundreds of these images before. I’m just happy to be here….. surrounded by the smell and the sounds…
But what about many of the Japanese tourists here around me? They do appear to be on the search for perfection. Not just of that lavender picture but of their image in the lavender. I watch as streams of immaculately dressed women follow a formal procession to be photographed in the purple fields. Floating silk dresses, wide brimmed hats, scarves, pastel make up, flowers and all manner of other feminine accessories blend beautifully against the lavender. Menfolk lumber slowly behind with photographic lighting equipment for special effects…. Strange, as none of this entered my head when I was preparing for the journey. The shot in the lavender – it’s the perfect backdrop for their search for one ideal image of a demure and feminine beauty. I hope they achieved it…. to be treasured forever and shared with family and friends.
The kids were getting bored……. lavender doesn’t do it for them. It was a lazy Saturday so time to discover a different way home hoping to glimpse the Lac St Croix for the first time. Half an hour via a windy back road and there it was …… the perfect lavender shot….. nobody about…. just us and the purple (and the distant sound of a tractor). I love these sort of findings… ( like your favourite Roses chocolate at the bottom of the box) a sweet surprise!!!! Then to the Lac St Croix…. oh my oh my! Just a short stop to paddle feet. A special place to return to in a few weeks.
A calming day after all that lavender… plus a had a few sprigs of the purple stuff ………..(to put under my pillow that night!).