Our 2018 new Lavender Tours from Marseille !

From June 10th 2018 until August 15th 2018, get the opportunity to discover the lavender fields from Marseille !

You are staying in Marseille and want to admire the beautiful landscapes of lavender fields in bloom ? 
Join an excursion with Provence Tours :  departure from the Radisson Blu Hotel Vieux Port in Marseille !
 
 1.Lavender full-day tour to Valensole  -> from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm / 110 € per person
 
Departure from Marseille and drive to Aix en Provence. Take a stroll through one of the numerous markets taking place everyday in the center of the city and offering a 11shimmering palette of fragrance and colours.
Free time for lunch (not included) on your own during the day.
Don’t forget to take your camera in hand arriving on Valensole plateau !
You will pass by picturesque roads lined with golden wheat and blue lavender fields.
The tour includes many photo stops on the way to Valensole and also free time to discover this traditional provencal village.
Your guide will give you useful information about how to recognize the fine lavender, the use of lavender essential oil, and also about the lavender crop in Provence. !
 
 Book now !
 
NEW in 2018 !
2. Lavender full-day tour to SAULT -> from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm / 110 € per person
13Drive to Pays de Sault with its wide lavender and lavandin fields in bloom. Stop in Sault, “the capital of lavender”. Enjoy many photo stops in the lavender fields in bloom and visit a lavender producer.
Free time in the charming village of Sault for lunch on your own (market every  Wednesday).
In the afternoon, discover two of the most beautiful villages in France.
Roussillon is built at the top of an ochre cliff, and provides visitors with a beautiful understanding of the harmonious combination of man and nature, and of ochre and stone ; with all these ochre-washed façades.
Gordes is a village erected on the top of a cliff, its fortified castle and church dominate the typical houses of the village which were built with stones from the rock on which they are fitting. Back to Marseille.
 
 Book now !
 
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Our 2018 Lavender tours from Aix en Provence !

From June 10th until August 15th 2018, join one of the lavender tours starting frrom Aix en Provence and visit the blooming lavender fields !

Three different tours to the lavender fields !
 
141. Lavender morning tour -> from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm / 55 € per person
Along scenic roads winding across the fields of flowers, arrival on the wide Plateau of Valensole specialised in the cultivation of « lavandin ». Many stops by the lavender fields in bloom. Stop at a farmer / producer’s place : lavender and lavandin essential oils, olive oil, lavender honey…. Learn everything about the cultivation, distillation and properties of lavender and lavandin.
Don’t forget your camera to take incredible pictures !
Book now !
 
 
2. Lavender afternoon tour -> from 2.00 pm to 7.00 pm / 60 € per person
Drive to Valensole Plateau. SONY DSC
Pass by picturesque roads lined with golden wheat and blue lavender prairies as far as the eye can see . Many photo stops included in the lavender fields in bloom. On the way back, stop in L’Occitane cosmetics factory : visit the museum displaying the history of the trademark.
Possibility to buy products at preferential rates before driving back to Aix.
 
Book now !
 
 
3. Lavender full day tour VALENSOLE -> from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm / 100 € per person
From June 20th to July 20th 2018
10Drive through the valley of the Durance river, and discover the Plateau of Valensole specialised in the cultivation of « lavandin », where small roads are winding through the fields of flowers. Many stops are included by the fields in bloom. Stop at a farmer / producer’s place : lavender and lavandin essential oils, olive oil, lavender honey….
Stop in the perched village of Moustiers-Ste-Marie, so famous for its earthen ware workshops (free time for visit and lunch not included on your own).
In the afternoon, continue to the breathtaking opening of the Grand Canyon of the River Verdon. Photo stop in the lavender fields.
Free time in the picturesque village of Sainte Croix du Verdon settled by Sainte Croix Lake (possibility of swimming or sun-bathing : don’t forget your swimsuit) before going back to Aix.
 
Book now !
 
4. Lavender full day tour SAULT -> from 9.00 am to 6.30 pm / 100 € per person -> From July 21st to August 15th 2018
Through the Luberon Natural Regional Park along the picturesque and winding Combe of 9Lourmarin, reach the Plateau of Claparèdes with its numerous « bories » (typical dry-stoned houses) among the lavender fields. Arrival in the hilltop village of Saignon to enjoy a breathtaking panorama.
Drive then to Pays de Sault with its wide  lavender and lavandin fields in bloom. Stop in Sault, “the capital of lavender” (free time and lunch not included on your own).
In the afternoon, discover one of the most beautiful villages in France : Gordes, a village erected on the cliff. The fortified castle and church dominate the typical houses of the village which were built with stones from the rock on which they are fitting.
Back to Aix-en-Provence.
 
Book now !

Our 2018 Lavender Tour from Arles !

 

From June 04th 2018 to August 15th, discover the lavender fields in bloom !

Meet your driver outside the hotel Jules César in Arles and get on the air-conditioned minibus.
Discover a traditional open-air market everyday in a different village of Provence and appreciate its stalls which present a shimmering palette of fruits and vegetables…
Drive along picturesque roads through wild lavender fields to Sault, the Lavender capital (photo stops) or Roussillon.
Free time in Sault or Roussillon to wander and do shopping in lavender shops. You will  appreciate the lavender : essence, flowers, honey… Free time for lunch (not included) on your own during the day.
Drive to Gordes, perched village in Luberon, one of «the most beautiful villages in France» entirely stonebuilt. Between mid-June 15 and mid-July only, photo stop at Senanque abbey to take pictures of the blooming lavender field.
Visit of the LAVENDER Museum (entrance ticket included) in Coustellet where you will find out the secrets of the lavender flower (video, exhibition, demonstration of distillation,  shop).
 
Departure on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8.15 am to 6.45 pm
 
Book now !
 
 

Our 2018 Lavender Tours from Avignon are available!

Not to be missed ! Our lavender tours start on June 4th 2018 with departure from Avignon !

Enjoy a day through the picturesque roads of Provence to the breathtaking lavender fields of the Luberon and Sault !

We pick you up directly in front of your hotel in Avignon with our air conditionned and comfortable minibuses !

Four possibilities to discover the lavender fields in bloom and Provencal villages :

1. Lavender MORNING TOUR -> daily froAbbaye de Sénanquem 9.00 am to 2.00 pm / 55 € per person
Enjoy a scenic and picturesque drive from your hotel in Avignon and admire the breathtaking beauty of the lavender fields in
bloom. Drive along a picturesque road through lavender fields (photo stops).
As there is a different level of altitude between Gordes / Roussillon and Sault, we visit one or the other sites depending on the flowering stage
Free time in Sault or Roussillon (depending on the flowering stage) to wander and discover lavender shops. You will appreciate the lavender : essence, flowers, honey…
Photo stop in Gordes to take pictures of the hilltop village, listed as one of the most beautiful village in France.
A photo stop will be also organized outside Sénanque Abbey : this Cistercian church is still ruled by monks.

Book now !

2. Lavender AFTERNOON TOUR -> daily from 2.30 pm to 7.30 pm /  55 € per person

Enjoy a scenic and picturesque drive from your hotel in Avignon and admire the breathtaking beauty of the lavender fields in
bloom. Drive along a picturesque road through lavender fields (photo stops).
As there is a different level of altitude between Gordes / Roussillon and Sault, we visit one or the other sites depending on the flowering stage. lavande
Free time in Sault or Roussillon (depending on the flowering stage) to wander and discover lavender shops. You will appreciate the lavender : essence, flowers, honey…
Photo stop in Gordes to take pictures of the hilltop village, listed as one of the most beautiful village in France.
A photo stop will be also organized outside Sénanque Abbey : this Cistercian church is still ruled by monks.
 
Book now !
 
 

3. Lavender full day tour -> daily from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm / 95 € per person

Start your day by a traditionlavandeal open-air market in a traditionnal village of Provence and appreciate its stalls presenting a shimmering palette of fruits and vegetables and souvenirs. Drive along picturesque roads through wild lavender fields to Sault, lavender capital or Roussillon (depending on the flowering stage). Several photo stops to discover the flowers and walk throught the fields ! Free time in Sault or Roussillon to wander and do shopping in lavender shops.
In the afternoon visit Gordes, hilltop village in Luberon, one of «the most beautiful villages in France», completely made with dry stones. Admire the castle and the St Firmin church.Visit of the LAVENDER Museum in Coustellet, where you will find out the secrets of the uses of
Lavender essential oil : video, exhibition and demonstration of distillation.
Photo stop at Senanque abbey (from June 15th to July 15th only), Cistercian monument surrounded by  wonderful lavender fields.
Free time for lunch (not included) on your own during the day
 
Not to be missed ! Book your tour for August, 15th 2018 and enjoy the Lavender Festival in Sault: sickle cutting competition, parade of Provençal folklore groups, village craft, book fair, sale of products made from lavender.

Book now !

4. Market and Lavender Ocean full day tour -> daily except Sundays from 9.00 am to 6.30 pm / 115 € per person – Available from June 10th to July 20th

lavandeDrive to Aix-en-Provence, city of water and art. Discover a provencal market in the city center. Continuation to Valensole Plateau. Pass by picturesque roads lined with golden wheat and blue lavender prairies as far as the eye can see . Many photo stops included and free time to visit the village. On the way back, stop in L’Occitane cosmetics factory : visit the museum displaying the history of the trademark. Possibility to buy products at preferential rates.
Free time for lunch (not included) on your own during the day.
 

Book now !

 

FETE DE LA CHANDELEUR (CANDLEMAS)

lavender-field-winter-sunset-images-12184We are in the mid season of winter.  The lavender fields are frozen.  The farmers take this opportunity of ‘resting time’ to check and service their equipment.

presentation-jesusThis is an introduction to one of the traditions in France;  Candlemas is a one of the oldest Christian holidays also commemorating the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple on every 2nd of February. As mentioned in the bible at the 4th century AD, this event took place 40 days after the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December – Christmas.

La Chandeleur in latin means ‘Festival of Candles’. In the tradition of the Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists and Lutherans, the priest blesses the candles brought by the faithfuls that will be used in their homes during the year. These lighting of candles not only symbolise the renewal of faith but also the Purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Customary, many Christians remove their Christmas decorations on the Twelth Night (Epiphany Eve). However, there are others that will remove them on Candlemas.

Traditionally, all the candles should be lit in the house. It is also celebrated with crêpes – thin pancakes. Shaped round and golden colour, it is said to represent the solar disc symbolising the rebirth of nature precisely the return of Spring after the cold and dark Winter. Pope Gelasius I had ordered pancakes to be distributed to the pilgrims arriving in Rome.crepesThere are a few symbols related to the preparation of the crêpes. An old tradition linking to a fertility rite is to flip the crêpes in the air with the right hand while holding a gold coin (Louis d’or) or more commonly a normal coin in the left hand. If the pancake lands properly back in the pan, one will have prosperity throughout the year. The most superstitious will even place the first crêpe made in an armoire to ensure a good harvest and good luck for the year. More specifically if it is placed on the top of the armoire, and not get moldy ; that will keep misery far away.

A crêpe receipe as follows :  ingredients-crepe

  • 250 g of flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 l of milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 50 g de melted butter

fruits-food-pancakes-berries-crepes-1440x900-wallpaper-504215

CHRISTMAS TRADITION IN PROVENCE THE 13 DESSERTS

treize_desserts

One of the oldest Provençal Christmas tradition is certainly the 13 desserts symbolising the Last Supper : Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles. It is said to date back centuries ago. However , it was thanks to Frédéric Mistral, a famous french poet that brought it back to light in the 19th century.

The 13 desserts are served after the Gros Souper (The Big Supper) before going to the midnight mass. The composition of the 13 desserts may vary from one region to another but the basics are as follow :

pompe-a-lhuileFirst of all, there is the Pompe à l’huile (Oil Pump) which is a bread made of flour, olive oil, sugar and orange flower water. It symbolises Torn like Jesus tearing the bread and not cutting it up with a knife.

Around the Pompe à l’huile, there will be the representation of the 4 religious mendicant orders. The dull colours remind us of the robes of these orders :

280px-4_mendiants_noisettesWalnuts or hazelnuts – The Augustinian Order

Almonds – The Carmelite Order

Dried Figs – The Franciscan Order

Raisins – TheDominican Order

 

Two kinds of nougat symbolizing good and evil.

  • calissonBlack nougat with honey (Nougat noir au miel), a hard candy made with honey and almonds

  • White nougat (Nougat blanc), a soft candy made with sugar, eggs, pistachios, honey and almonds.

Then according to each household, the other items may vary :

The dates symbolises the origin where Christ lived and died. Dried plums or apricots representing
the Far East, the origins of the Three Wise Men.

Fruits of the season are included like the apples, pears, oranges, winter melons, grapes, tangerines as well as Calisson d’Aix (a marzipan-like candy made from almond paste and candied melon), oreillettes (thin waffles), pain d’epice (spice cake), pâte de coing (quince paste), candied lemon or orange peel, etc

These desserts are set out on the dining table at Christmas Eve and kept for 3 days until 27 December and guests and family members should taste each one of them. It is always accompanied by a cooked wine symbolising the wine of Christ.

CULTIVATION AND REPRODUCTION OF LAVENDER

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While the lavender fields are ‘resting’, November is the month of the season when the farmers take time to prepare the reproduction of the lavender.  It can be done by the propagation of seeds or by cuttings depending on the species of the plant.

Propagation by seedlings

capture

The fine lavender (lavandula angustifolia) reproduces only by seedlings. Grains from the finest specimens are collected and are sowed in a specially prepared soil in the nursery just before the winter frosts set in. First technique: producers want to keep a homogeneous race secreting its own defenses. Either they collect the seeds from the whole plantation, or they choose from the best plants for reproduction, hoping to have the best qualities. lavenderyp1-276x300

A second technique is to pick up the fallen seeds on the ground of the distillery while loading the stills, which excludes any selection of seeds.  These seeds will germinate and we will have to wait around 3 years before we can use these plants for a new plantation.

Propagation by cuttings

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Lavandine, a hybrid of lavender and aspic which produces 4 times more than the fine lavender. It is sterile, therefore, the propagation is done mainly by cuttings. During the autumn season, selected clumps are selected from the best quality plants from which hundreds of cuttings can be taken. They are prepared and stored in a well-ventilated and frost-free nursury. Come spring, in March, planting begins when the soil starts warming up, so that they might take root during the 12 months preceding transplantation. They are planted every 30cm and the rows are 1m50 apart.  planting-lavander

Depending on the soil type and climatic conditions, a young lavender plant can last from 8-10 years.

AROMATHERAPY : LAVENDER

lavender-field

Though the lavender season is finished, the farmers still have work to do. During the month of October, they will take care of those lavender plants that are more than 10 years old. They will be pulled up, burnt and then the farmers will prepare the land for March planting by plouging to aerate the soil.

soin-voyage-apaisant-et-rparateur-1Lavender oil is one of the most versatile essential oils in the world and the therapeutic usages are endless and it’s often used in the Aromatherapy. An alternative medical treatment that basically uses naturally extracted aroma essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the well-being of body, mind and spirit. It is also used as an antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial treatment. 

250px-rene-maurice_gattefosseThe word ‘Aromatherapy’ was invented by a french scientist René Gattefossé (1881 – 1950). When his hands were severly burnt in a laboratory explosion, the only liquid nearby was the lavender essential oil and thus he grabbed it and plunged his hand into it. He discovered the healing properties and that the burns were healed quickly with very little scarring. Following this incident, he later used the wound healing and antiseptic properties of essential oils in the care of soldiers in military hospitals during the First World War. By the 1950s massage therapists, beauticians, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, and other health care providers began using aromatherapy.

Beware that the use of essential oils can have severe consequences, if not done correctly and safely.

The benefical effects of essential oils to the body are applied many ways, through baths, massage, compresses, vaporisers, atomisers and inhulations. Some examples of aromatherapy with lavender essential oil are:

Lavender Bathbath

Excellent for aching muscles, relaxation, stress relief. Add 6-8 drops lavender essential oil after running the water and vigorously agitate the water

Lavender Tissues/Handkerchief

Good for instant relief from flu, sinusitis and anxiety. Use 1-3 drops Lavender oil and inhale immediately as required.

Lavender Steam Inhalation

Great for colds and flu. Add 4-6 drops to a bowl of hot water. Place a towel over your head and breathe in the vapour. Keep your eyes shut. Continue to breathe deeply for a few minutes, occasionally removing the towel and your head from the bowl.

Lavender Hand/Foot Bath

Great for tired feet, fatigue or sore/dry hands. Add 4-6 drops Lavender oil to a large bowl of warm water and soak for approx 10 minutes. Then apply a lavender lotion for added benefits. lavender-oil

GRAPE HARVESTING

Lavender season is over. We are now in September and it’s the turn of the grape-growers busy preparing for the grape-harvesting period in France which is between August and October. This is also a very important month for the winemakers as it’s one of the most crucial steps in the process of wine-making. grapes1

Based on the style of wine they wish to produce, the wine-makers will determine the time of harvest by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tanin levels. Weather conditions are also a very important factor.  Threats of heat, rain, hail and frost can damage the grapes as well. In addition to determining the time of the harvest, wine-makers must also decide whether to use hand pickers or mechanical harvesters.grapes2

However in some regions, the method of harvest and the grapes varieties used in the making of wine are mandated by rules.

cdp

For example, in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, various rules for the production of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, were drawn up and promulgated in 1923, were the first Appellation Contrôlée rules in France, and provided the prototype for subsequent AOC rules. Here, only hand picking is allowed and grapes are transported in small containers. Minimum natural alcohol degree is 12.5%. Only 13 grapes varieties are authorised. 95% production of red wine and 5% of white wine, No rosé wine in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 220px-chateauneuf_du_pape_rouge

The first producer of wine in France is Bordeaux and followed by the South of the Rhône River Valley. (Côte du Rhône), Last but not least is Burgundy region.

The Drome Provençal

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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. lavande-lavandin

Drome ProvençaleAs 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.