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Valensole

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

43.838889,5.984444
43°50'20"N 5°59'4"E
Published: October 2010
last updated: April 2011
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The visit

This small village very typical of Provence is surrounded by the largest lavender fields in Provence (and probably in the world). We will contradict our usual advice and urge you to come to Valensole between end of June and end of July. It is useless to give you detailed instructions on how to find the fields of lavender - they are everywhere. Except walking through the fields (normally tolerated by the farmers but please take care not to do any harm to lavender) you can visit lavender distilleries.

If for some reason you cannot come in summer, visit Valensole in early spring to admire its many almond trees in bloom. The town itself invites to a lazy stroll along paved streets and shady squares with fountains. Some of Valensole patrimony dates back to XVI and XVII century (for instance château de Bar, Sainte-Madeleine chapel of XI century, Saint-Denis paroissial church of XI-XVIII centuries and some village houses). But the main charm of the town is in its southern spirit: coloured shutters, abundance of flowers and many little traditional shops. On the village square you’ll find an old stone wash-house, which can make a perfect pick-nic place right downtown.

History

The popular saying derives the name Valensole from latin Valis Solis - “the sunny valley”, even if it’s not true, Valensole deserves this name by its dry and sunny climate and extremely pure mountain air. The name first appears in XIth century, although as it is he case with many provencal towns, Valensole has little known gallo-roman history. In the Middle Age Valensole belonged to the counts of Provence and then was ceded to the famous Cluny abbey. The presence of the jews is also remarkable in Valensole history and you can still see the vestiges of jewish ghetto. After protestant reformation a large part of the population has turned into protestantism to the greatest distress of the catholic elites of the town. This led to the formation of anti-protestant army and to massacre of the huguenots in Valensole.

Nowadays Valensole is the second most dispersed town of France with over quarter of its population living in hamlets.

Practical information

To come to Valensole by car, take A51 (Aix-en-Provence - Gap), then exit near Saint-Paul-lès-Durance to the departemental road D952 and change to D8 after Greoux-les-Bains.
Lavender fest (la Fête de la Lavande) takes place the third Sunday of July.

Comment on this article

1

Le village La lavande Les champs Les champs Le hameau Le village

2

Les champs Le village La fête de la lavande Les champs Le village Les champs

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Le village Les champs Le village Les champs Le village Le village

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Les champs Le village Le village Les champs La lavande La lavande

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