Lavender

Tradition

Publié le 7 January 2015 Mis à jour le 8 December 2018

Lavender, the flower that smells of Provence!

Provence largest lavender fields are spread - as if blown by the Mistral wind - mainly between the Alpilles, Vallée des Baux, Graveson, Saint Rémy, Sainte Victoire and Jouques. Lavender needs altitude and moisture to flourish, as in Jouques, where the nights are cooler.
And it is in Jouques, at Moulin Saint Vincent, that you will find the Bouches-du-Rhône's last working lavender and essential oil distillery. This genuine, old-fashioned distillery can be visited free of charge in August. Elisabeth and Eric Garcin introduce visitors to the various stages of the distillation process, which lasts around 40 minutes:
The lavender harvested by local producers is steamed; the flowers gradually transform into an aqueous mixture, then into lavender or lavandin essential oil. The tour is truly fascinating!

Lavender

Lavender & the 'Sainte Victoire'

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Provence largest lavender fields are spread - as if blown by the Mistral wind - mainly between the Alpilles, Vallée des Baux, Graveson, Saint Rémy, Sainte Victoire and Jouques. Lavender needs altitude and moisture to flourish, as in Jouques, where the nights are cooler.
And it is in Jouques, at Moulin Saint Vincent, that you will find the Bouches-du-Rhône's last working lavender and essential oil distillery. This genuine, old-fashioned distillery can be visited free of charge in August. Elisabeth and Eric Garcin introduce visitors to the various stages of the distillation process, which lasts around 40 minutes:
The lavender harvested by local producers is steamed; the flowers gradually transform into an aqueous mixture, then into lavender or lavandin essential oil. The tour is truly fascinating!

Lavender

The Cicada and Lavender

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How can you tell the difference between lavender and lavandin? You'll come across all sorts of conflicting advice. There are so many varieties that colour isn't a good indicator. One sure test is the stalk: lavandin has a short stalk while lavender has a longer stalk, together with two additional, shorter, symmetrical stalks.
Lavender grows well at altitude and has been acclaimed for its many properties since Antiquity. It is highly sought-after by perfumers for its subtle scent and mainly used for its therapeutic value. It is sometimes referred to as the "Swiss knife of aromatherapy". I confirm that it soothes, disinfects, heals, treats skin problems and is great for a muscle-relaxing massage after sport.
Surprisingly, lavender is also becoming a must in summer cuisine. For those in doubt, I suggest starting with some artisan ice cream to appreciate its delicate and refreshing taste. It is often associated with honey – lavender honey of course!

"Lavender is the soul of Provence"
- Jean Giono

Lavender fields

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Lavandin is a hybrid of "fine" and "aspic" lavenders. It grows better in our dry climate and is the most commonly-found variety. Its flowers produce large quantities of essential oil; lavandin extract has a stronger scent than lavender extract.
I'm a lavandin fan and use it daily, whether a few drops in the bath, essential oil diffuser, washing machine or vacuum cleaner bag. In the evening, I like to spray it on my pillow.
Its scent is strong and persistent. You also find dried lavandin flowers in the bags used to chase away moths and deodorize our wardrobes. It is used in many cosmetics and household products.
So, lavender or lavandin?! Why choose – they're both essential to our well-being, a must to take away on holiday and perfect all year round for breathing in the scents of Provence…

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"Ma Cigale est Fantastique" introduces you to the very best the South of France and Provence have to offer. "Ma Cigale" shares a hand-picked selection of cultural, touristic and gastronomic events and unveils a host of Made in Provence gems, tips and top addresses. A must!

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