Then we went to… Provence

Do you follow me on Instagram? If so, you’ve likely noticed that this week I’ve posted a few photos of lavender fields. I’ve tagged them as #latergram because -spoiler alert- I’m not currently on vacation in Provence.

The photos date back to late July when the fragrant flowers were in full bloom. Aren’t they gorgeous? No filter necessary (or photoshop for that matter!)

If you haven’t already visited Valensole or the Luberon (read: lavender field ground zero) I encourage you to go. I can only describe spending time in the region as a complete sensory overload. Between the vibrant colours, intoxicating smells and sumptuous cuisine your brain won’t know how to process it all.

Provence is full of charm, which is why I recommend that you explore the area at a slower pace. Snap a million photos, take deep breaths and taste everything. Drink it all in! Because by mid-August when the harvest begins, the magic is gone.

Go it alone

Based on the number of tour buses in the Sénanque Abbey parking lot, it’s clear that these fields are popular. But instead of booking your group excursions through a large tour company, I suggest you explore on your own.

During our vacation we picked-up a car in Avignon and brought our copy of Lonely Planet’s France’s Best Trips. This book is a favourite of mine. I bought it a few years ago in Paris at the adorable WH Smith and have almost worn it out. Although I don’t always agree with the hotel or restaurant recommendations, the detailed driving information is solid. 

I know it’s more of a headache to rent a car, but I promise it’s worth it. Since the region is primarily agricultural, there’s boatloads of backroads you could take to avoid the crowds. And since you’re not following someone else’s itinerary you can go at your own leisurely pace. Trust me when I say there’s lots to see beyond the main sites!

We spent close to a week passing by picturesque hilltop villages and rows of blue and purple flowers. In many ways, the area remains rustic and unspoilt and a great alternative to the nearby busy French Riveria. And it’s an easy trip to Carcassonne if you’re feeling medieval.

Lavender for stress relief

I’ll never forget the sweet smell of lavender in the air. The floral scent has a reputation of helping you sleep, and I definitely slept like a baby this trip. But did you know that people use lavender for stress relief, lowering anxiety and managing depression?

I think that’s why I’ve posted old photos this week on Instagram. For a few reasons, I’m feeling more stressed than usual and searching for something to calm me down. Luckily, before leaving Provence we stocked up on soaps, lotions and bubble bath to bring home. Using these products is a simple reminder to breath deep, relax and slow down. Just like we did back in July while standing in the middle of the fields.

So, if you’re an expat spouse like me and suffering from stress, please go find yourself some lavender. And if it doesn’t offer you relief, at least you’ll have one hell of a good sleep.

-es