Things to do in Valensole
Valensole takes its name from the Latin words ‘Vallis’ and ‘Solis’, which mean valley of the sun. It’s easy to see why as you gaze at the gorgeous stone houses bathed in the golden rays. Begin your journey by driving through rows of vibrant purple lavender with the snow-capped Alps in the background. As you approach Valensole, you’ll see the village and its tiered-level streets perched on the top of the hill.
Valensole sits at the heart of the Plateau of Valensole (an area known for its lavender fields) and is ‘the capital of the lavender region’. Tourists mainly visit the village in the summer, as this is when the lavender is in bloom. However, the town itself is stunning too!
What makes it unique is that it’s a very local town and not known as a tourist spot in its own right. In fact, people usually only pass through on their way to the lavender fields. Because of this, Valensole is a true reflection of the French way of life and the perfect place to understand the provencal culture.
1. The Village of Valensole
Start by walking into Place Thiers, a beautiful little square at the bottom of the town. In the center of the square, there’s a charming stone fountain next to a boulangerie. You can buy fresh croissants here before your walk. Above the boulangerie, you’ll see an ancient sundial which is over a century old!
Stop here for a minute to absorb the atmosphere of the village, have a chat with the locals, and enjoy the sight of the old stone houses and traditional shutters.
Boulevard Frederic Mistral
Follow the road uphill from the square, up the main boulevard Frederic Mistral. This street is one of the most beautiful in the village, home to boutiques selling lavender-infused products like soaps, oils, and candles. In the summer, you can even buy lavender ice cream!
As you wander along the street, keep an eye out for the traditional washhouse and the pretty town hall.
End your walk at the top of the hill, at the Church of Saint-Blaise. This stone church has a quintessential tiled roof and a beautiful interior full of ornate woodwork and painted murals.
2. Visit the Endless Lavender Fields
Valensole is most popular for its surroundings. Purple rows of lavender on rolling hills change the landscape’s color every summer. The Provence lavender fields are some of the best in the world, attracting people from all over the world. Visit ‘Lavandes Angelvin’ to have endless rows of purple on all sides.
Les Grandes Marges
Les Grandes Marges is a beautiful family-run lavender farm. The same family has lived and worked there for four generations! Now the farm is open for visitors to wander among the fields and try the organic produce. They even have a boutique on-site where you can buy items to take home—for example, organic almonds, olive oil, and lavender oil.
3. Visit a Valensole Lavender Distillery
There are plenty of lavender distilleries to choose from near Valensole! One excellent option is Lavendes Angelvin. This beautiful farm is the perfect place to learn all about harvesting and oil extraction from lavender flowers. The distillery is open all year round for both group and private tours, and it’s an excellent opportunity to discover how traditional farms like these create lavender products. This particular distillery sells lavender soaps, oils, bags, and perfumes.
4. Take a Day Trip to Gorges du Verdon
Gorges du Verdon is the perfect day trip for adventurers and nature lovers! The impressive canyon has a beautiful turquoise river running through it which is famous for kayaking. Hire a kayak or paddleboat and explore the canyon, swimming in the cool water and relaxing on secret beaches.
When you’re finished, check out the panoramic viewpoints from the bridges or hike among the forests of the gorge. On your way home, make a special stop at the unique cliffside village of Moustiers Sainte Marie for dinner!
How to get there: Gorges du Verdon is just a 1-hour drive from Valensole. Alternatively, look for a tour that combines both Valensole and Gorges du Verdon. These typically leave from bigger cities like Aix-en-Provence. Rent a car locally through Sunny Cars as they work with local car rental companies (all insurances are included)
How to Get to Valensole
Valensole is incredibly remote and beautiful. However, this means there is a lack of public transport options. The nearest train station is Manosque Greoux Bains which is a 30-minute taxi or bus ride away.
The best option is to rent a car so that you have the freedom to explore Valensole’s lavender fields, farms, and nature spots. There is free parking near the main boulevard.
Where to Stay
There are several lovely hotels and guesthouses within Valensole village itself. However, most accommodation is outside Valensole, on farms in the countryside, or in bigger towns like Manosque and Gréoux-les-Bains.
Best Time to Visit Valensole
Most people visit Valensole in the summertime when they can see fields and fields of bright purple lavender. As the summer progresses, the colors get even more vibrant! Because summer is a popular time, it can get busy, and hotels and restaurants will book up quickly.
Aside from the lavender, Valensole is a beautiful village to visit in the spring and fall months. During these quieter periods, you can really appreciate its local charm.