Sunflowers & lavender, Valensole, Provence, France
Sunflowers & lavender, Valensole, Provence, France

Lavender & sunflowers in Provence – 2015

I’ve just returned from my seventh Lavender photo tour in Provence. It was hotter than usual as France had been enveloped in a heatwave, with temperatures in excess of 40°C. Fortunately, the lavender fields are situated between 400 and 800 metres above sea level and there is often a breeze. When we left the hotel at 5 am, it was only 15°C and stayed below 20°C until about 8am. This meant we were able to make the most of the soft morning light without suffering from the heat.  The rest of the morning we photographed different villages, never far from a café for a refreshing Perrier Tranche. The afternoon was spent taking a siesta or enjoying the swimming pool, before we headed out for our evening shoot.

The sunflowers were the best I’ve ever seen this year. I always look for fields of sunflowers which are growing next to lavender but most years, the sunflowers are either not in flower or away from the lavender. This year was different, with all the sunflowers in full bloom and the lavender still at it’s prime. A perfect combination! Our timing was perfect, especially as they started to cut the lavender on the Valensole plateau the day before we left.

We also managed to find some lovely patterns near Valensole. This is not always as easy as you might think as most of the plateau is quite flat (thus the name plateau) so finding undulating fields with lavender is always a challenge. I have been down most of the tracks over the years and this local knowledge came in handy for finding some beautiful fields.

I like to keep my groups small for this trip. I find 4-5 people is a perfect size. This allows us to visit more locations and I have more time to give advice. It also takes less time to get in and out of the van and set up for the shots. The group was very international- Scotland, USA, Canada & South Africa. The conversation was always lively and everyone got on really well.