Why Provence Loves Lavender

03 | 06 | 2021
Why Provence Loves Lavender

The countryside of Provence is so utterly charming, so beautiful and colourful, and agriculture is so ubiquitous, that it is easy to forget that this is not, in fact, a particularly fertile part of Europe. Provence is in the rain shadow of the Alps, and its soil is not especially rich. The region has, in times past, been called the "desert of France".
Provençal people have, from necessity, had to specialise in crops that can withstand the hot dry summers here. Sunflowers thrive in, well, sunny weather as their name suggests. Olive trees are fine with a thin rocky soil. But perhaps the most beautiful and surprisingly hardy plant here is the lavender bush.
Lavender is not demanding of water - indeed, its oily composition is ideal for retaining moisture, in a similar way that a cactus does. Lavender flowers thrive at relatively high altitudes, so you'll find them especially on the high plateaus of the Provençal hinterland. Lavender likes a warm dry summer, which Provence certainly offers.
Lavender blooms from late June to mid-July, turning parts of Provence into a fragrant, purple patchwork. Bees love lavender flowers, so the plants are doing their bit for a healthy ecosystem. Provençal honey - used especially in nougat production - is a happy byproduct of the symbiotic relationship between bees and lavender.
Lavender oil is used extensively in the manufacture of Provence's famous soaps and perfumes. Cut lavender hangs in many Provençal kitchens, giving fragrance for weeks after they have been harvested.
The colour is as beautiful as the smell. Lavender purple is a distinctive and special part of Provence's palette. Is it any wonder that here at Provence at Home, we chose a basket of lavender as our logo?