26 Feb Provence: Gordes & Sault
It’s no surprise you find the above picture familiar and wonder where have you seen it before. It might be your desktop wallpaper or one of the calendar pages. That postcard picture and right that lavender field with an abbey behind, it’s the most touristy spot in Provence – the Sénanque Abbey.
If you come all the way to Provence for this, you would be slightly disappointed. I don’t mind going to touristy places but Sénanque Abbey was just nothing like Provence countryside from my imagination, nonetheless the backdrop was photogenic.
Our 2 day Lavender road trip included a few stops, Valensole, Sault and also Sénanque Abbey. Each location had its own characteristics. The highlight was definitely the Valensole plateau since there were largest scale of lavender fields. You could walk through the fields, no fence and nobody would stop you from doing so as long as you don’t pick the blooms (And please don’t). Sénanque Abbey was more like a statue with a complete manicured garden. It’s all fenced up and you couldn’t get very close to at all.
Abbey was only a 10-15mins drive from Gordes and I picked the market day to visit the village.
Busy.. Gordes during market day was extremely packed and we had to drive all the way uphill to find a parking spot. I don’t think you can find free parking in Provencal villages, normally you have to pay about a couple euros for parking. Sun was scorching that late morning and I still remember it’s not a comfortable walk 15mins down to the village. Followed the traffic and brought us to the heart of the market. We didn’t even know where to begin with. It’s our first Provence Market Day experience and I was already overly excited for the first food stall I walked by. I wowed about almost everything, the lavender honey, homemade jam, cheese and pastries etc. Then the next one was selling French linen….then next door was selling handmade soaps. Also not to mention about all kinds of local food, rotisserie chicken, ham and fruits…
Hold on.. Will suggested me not to get all souvenirs from the first market we visited and he didn’t want to carry all those heavy jars of jam and honey at the first stop. Okay so I didn’t get anything, nothing from the market. We just grabbed something quick to eat and found a quiet spot to sit around the corner. Made a few turns and it’s a complete different scene. We found some empty narrow pathways that led to a peekaboo spot overlooking the view of endless lush fields, much similar to Tuscany. I really liked that quiet part of the village. Everywhere was rustic yet kept beautifully.
Our last stop before leaving to Sault was to find the photo taking spot of the overall village view. I googled street view the spot and dropped a pin on my map. I know it’s pathetic but I wanna make sure I wouldn’t miss it. After all I figure out you won’t miss it because you would see tons of cars parking along the side and everyone is holding a camera pointing to same focal point, you know you are at the right place. I heard people name this place “天空之城 village of sky”, because the village looks like it’s floating. Do you think it looks like a floating village from the third picture?
Let’s move on to our next stop – Sault. Lavender around Sault are grown in higher altitude and they usually bloom in mid-late July. Weather was very warm in that particular spring and summer. All lavender bloomed in early July, hence we were fortunate to see the blooming in Sault also. While Valensole plateau fields were organized and easy to find on the map, the fields around Sault were all scattered and much smaller. Almost like they were wildflowers. I didn’t know how to map it on google but as long as you follow your way to Sault, you will come across quite a few decent sized fields. Sault is a very small village and not particularly charming. I almost regretted to make our way here until I found this tiny little shop selling all sort of lavender products. They had gotten the nicest package of lavender soaps ! The whole place smelled heavenly. I couldn’t stop myself to grab like 15 soaps right away. This was the only place I could find handmade soaps with real tiny lavender flowers packed in the soap. The package also came with a stalk of dried lavender….so adorable. Most other places we had been to were only selling the typical Savon de Marseille.
On our way back we also found a honey factory. Sorry I don’t remember the name as we followed the sign to get there. We got to sample a few types of honey like orange blossom honey, lemon honey and of course the most delicious lavender honey. I wish I can re-order more as I already finish it all. The most yummy way to enjoy the honey is plain. Just take a teaspoon of it and eat like a dessert. Burst of lavender mixed honey flavours …….nom nom nom….
We couldn’t be more blessed to visit all the places we wanted to fulfill the dream of chasing lavender. 100% vote for yes if you come to Provence in lavender season, the experience is beyond amazing and vivid.
明信片上的修道院與薰衣草田，就是這塊位於Gordes附近的the Sénanque Abbey. 每年大約七月就是薰衣草的季節，整個普羅旺斯地區充滿著花的香氣，這裡也變成遊客必到之地。 當然這裏的花田比起Valensole跟Sault差距很大，面積小而且人也多。建議有時間還是去Valensole跟Sault。附近的小鎮就是天空之城Gordes, 因為電影A Good Year在這裏取景而受遊客慕名而來。我們選了市場日去，人車特別多，停車也不好找。逛市場是來普羅旺斯不能錯過的，每一個小攤位賣的都是當地的果菜，食物，生活雜貨，應有盡有。拐個彎離開了人群，才可以慢慢欣賞這古典小鎮的獨特風味，每每個角落處處都是拍照的好題目。看來我還是不習慣到人多的地方去。 之後我們開車繼續到Sault, 這裏的薰衣草聽說是因為生長在高海拔，品質也最好。 那裡的花田都是範圍小小，分佈在路旁，像野花一樣，跟Valensole一望無盡的花田很不一樣。喜歡看花的，兩個地方我覺得也值得去。朋友們收到的手工皂就是在Sault買的，那裡有家小店全賣手工薰衣草用品。包裝都很可愛，這裏也是唯一一家的手工皂是真的夾了一顆顆花蕊在裡面。那裡附近還有製造手工蜂蜜的場地，可以買一些不同口味的蜂蜜會去。當然我們最喜歡還是薰衣草口味的。以為花期每個地方都不同，一直沒有想過我們是可以去到所有看薰衣草田的地方，而且全都是盛放中，真正體會到什麼叫心花怒放。