After spending the previous day escaping the heat by lounging by the pool and napping away the afternoon in Fontane-de-Vaucluse, we were ready to get back out on the road and see the Provencal countryside and the big swathes of aromatic blooming lavender that draw thousands of visitors to the region.
Before leaving town we stopped by the local Carre Four to fill up our cooler again with picnic essentials including a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a steal at only €30! If I had been thinking straight we should have picked up a case for the rest of the trip. I blame the momentary lapse in judgment on the heat!
Our first stop entered into the GPS was the beautiful village of Gordes perched on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse. The beige stone that makes up the village’s buildings and 12th century castle is said to have a golden glow with the reflection of the morning sun.
Next up was the destination that inspired the entire trip after seeing an advert in the London tube last summer, the Abbaye-de-Senanque. Famous for its often photographed fields of lavender in front of the 12th century abbey, the monastery is still occupied by a community of Cistercian monks to this day. The abbey was a popular destination that day, with a dozen easels scattered around the grounds and the artists they belonged to rendering the bucolic scene in their chosen medium while hundreds of travelers from all over the world wandered through the fields taking lavender selfies.
As we hopped back in the car we made slow progress toward our next village stop of Saignon because I kept requesting Dan to pull over every 1/2 mile to admire yet another bigger or more picturesque field of lavender or sunflowers. He was a very patient chauffeur for the day! Once we finally arrived in Saignon, we grabbed our picnic basket, settled ourselves in the cool shade of a big tree in the city center, and gracefully popped the top on our Veuve which had been dutifully chilling for us the entire morning. Before saying adieu to Saignon and heading for our hotel in Manosque, we took a little stroll through the commune and stumbled upon an uphill path leading to a mesa overlooking the valley that was reputedly used as an ancient observatory and signal station.
The next morning as we were driving east toward the Gorges du Verdon for the next adventure on our list, we discovered that the real lavender and sunflower central lies on the stretch of the D6 between Manosque to Valensole. Field after field for miles! My accommodating driver again pulled over to the shoulder at my constant insistence with minimal complaint.
We couldn’t have planned the timing of our trip to Provence any better to witness the lavender at its aromatic blooming peak. A definite highlight of the trip for us!
*Check out my handy printable travel guide here to plan your own Provence road trip getaway!