It really feels like Spring is on the way when the first flowers start to bloom and throughout the year the different varieties reflect the mood of the seasons. Follow your nose to the fragrant fields of France and wonder at stunning blankets of vibrant colour as flower crops bloom. Here are our top 5 flowers to spot in France, and when to see them at their best:
Perhaps the most iconic flowers of summer you can find golden seas of sunflowers all across the South of France. From afar a blur of yellow, close up impressively tall and sturdy plants with huge seed heads used in making sunflower oil. In France sunflowers are called ‘Tournesols’ which translates to ‘turn to the sun’ and the flower heads of young plants do indeed rotate during the day, following the sun across the sky. Once mature the flowers face east to greet the dawn and if you find a place to watch the sunset behind a sunflower field in full bloom it’s an unforgettable sight! The best months for sunflower spotting are June and July though you may find fields in bloom well into August depending on the year’s weather and harvest patterns.
Synonymous with Provence, Lavender is grown in abundance in this region of southern France. The neat rows of green and purple are as soothing to the eye as their fragrant scent. Lavender from Provence is used to make the finest grade essential oils used in prestigious cosmetics, aromatherapy products and perfumes. In the region you will find lots of artisan souvenirs including soaps and scented ‘wands’ where pretty ribbons encase lavender to create a fragrant wardrobe or drawer scent bag. The Valensole plateau is the best place to see the lavender with flowers typically blooming from the end of June until mid August.
Unlike the other flowers on this list, Poppies are not cultivated and are, in fact, a weed that farmers try their best to eradicate. This does not, however, make the fields of poppies in France any less beautiful and if you are lucky enough to come across one, you’ll find local people are just as excited to visit and take photographs amongst the flowers as any tourists. Poppy fields can be found all over France but those in Provence are some of the best having inspired famous artists including Monet and Van Gogh. The poppy fields that sprung up on the battlefields of Northern France after the first world war are no longer prolific but these poignant flowers still appear in smaller clusters here too. Poppies start to bloom in the south in April and can still be found flowering in northern France in June.
The delicate white flowers of the Lily of the Valley are thought to bring good luck in France. It is traditional to give a bunch to loved ones, family and friends on May Day; it is estimated over 60 million bunches of these flowers are sold every year! In the wild they grow in damp, shady spots and you can look out for them in woodlands all over France during the Spring flowering season. It is also cultivated for sale, but seeing Lily of the Valley carpet a forset floor is a really magical sight.
Only in France would you find fields of Chanel branded flowers! There is a prestigious flower farm in Grasse which cultivates flowers especially for the fashion house to use in blending their world famous perfumes. There are five harvests each year reserved exclusively for the brand; iris, jasmine, rose, tuberose and geranium. Each flower is picked by hand and processed into precious extracts in the on-site factory. It goes without saying that the whole area smells incredible at harvest time!
If you are planning a French holiday why not stay a one of our charming self-catering holiday homes? With thousands of unique properties to book directly with the owner you can see the real France, relax and enjoy a wonderful getaway with family or friends.
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