Set on its plateau in a kaleidoscopic swirl of lavender blue and wheaten gold, Valensole is a picturesque town on the northern edge of the Verdon Regional Nature Park.
With 300 days of sunshine a year, Valensole is true to its name: it comes from the Latin Vallis and solis and means valley of the sun.
The medieval village is built like an amphitheatre on the side of a hill overlooking a small river valley. The streets and alleys snake their way up to the 11th century St Blaise church with its immense bell tower at the top. The church's façade is in a Provençal Romanesque style and the choir is gothic. Inside, you can admire beautiful stone carvings, the rib vaulted ceilings, the 16th century stalls and the columns' capitals adorned with acanthus leaves and phantasmagoric figures.
Valensole in Haute Provence
Grande Fontaine, place Thiers, in Valensole
Belfry and church Saint- Blaise in Valensole
Lavender field in Valensole
Valensole, a typical Provençal village
The historic centre of Valensole contains beautiful old houses in the colours of Provence, nicely restored and some with corbel arches, ogival doors, wrought-iron balconies and pretty shutters. There are chapels, fountains, in particular the very decorative fountain on the Place Thiers, and an impressive washhouse with five basins dating from 1681.
Two listed gardens invite you for a peaceful pause: the Clos de Villeneuve, labelled remarkable garden, and the Château du Grand Jardin.
Unless you prefer relaxing on the terrace of one of the friendly restaurants or cafés.
Many shops offer crafts and traditional products, especially ones made from lavender such as honey, essential oils, lavender ice cream, nougats and there are also truffles, another local speciality.
In fact, the Plateau of Valensole is famous for its lavender and truffles. Covering approximately 800km2, this plateau is the biggest area in France devoted to growing lavender and the blue, violet and purple-coloured fields stretch as far as the eye can see. The blooming period from mid-June to mid-July is an explosion of colours and the inebriating scent fills the exceptionally pure air of the region.
During that period, the Tourist Office of Valensole organises guided tours on the theme of lavender. And throughout the year, the distilleries welcome you to visit their lavender farms and discover the steps in the distilling of lavender, from the gathering of the flowers to the stills to the packaging. Some, such as the Ferme du Riou, still today use the most traditional of techniques.
Each year on the 3rd Sunday of July, the town of Valensole organises its Lavender Festival.