We have come to an end of the 2016 lavender season. All the fields are already harvested by mid-August and so is the distillation. The essential oil that is produced will then be used for either in the perfumery, medical, massage and body and face care beauty products. This is also the period when the weeding process must begin again as the grass has started to grow since the beginning of June.
In Provence, we find 2 different species of lavender; Fine lavender (lavandula angustifolia) or the hybrid – Lavandin (lavandula hyrbida). Depending on the altitude and the soil type, they may grow at different areas of Provence.
As part of the Routes de la Lavande, the itinerary laced through the country roads between the lavandin fields that is mostly cultivated in this Drome Provençal region. From Montélimar (famous for its Nougat – a candy made up of at least 30% almonds and honey, passing through historical hilltop villages like Pont de Barret, La Bégude-de-Mazenc, Poët-Laval, Dieulefit, Teyssières, Grignan, Roussas, Clansayes, St Paul Trois Château, Valréas, Vinsobres and Nyons.
One of the highlights of this region is Nyons. Settled in the 6th century BC as Nyrax by a Gallic tribe, it is situated next to the river Aigues or Eygues, which is crossed by an ancient bridge. It is famed for its olives. Take some time to visit the Musée de l’Olivier which through the exhibits, the visitors will learn the ancient and more recent history of the cultivation of olive trees of Nyons and its surroundings, making the olive oil from the seventeenth to the twentieth century and its various uses.
Not to be missed is the sumptuous Château de Grignan which is built on a rocky promontory overlooking the village of Grignan situated at the heart of the Drome Provençal. Witness the architecture Renaissance and French classicism. First mentioned in the 11th century, it is transformed during the Renaissance into a prestigious country residence by the family of Adhemar. In the 17th century, the Marquise de Sevigne stayed there with her daughter Françoise-Marguerite.