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Lavender - the soul of Provence

Le 29/07/20 à 13:55

Lavender ... At the mere mention of this word, all our senses are awakened and we can already imagine the characteristic fragrance of this plant, so dear to the hearts of Provençals.

At the market, you can get a dried bouquet to give a rustic touch to your interior, or cosmetics that will undoubtedly remind you of the scents of Provence! Or products made from Provence lavender... Honey, syrup, candy, cake or even ice cream: the plant comes in many forms.

Lavender is the soul of Haute Provence, said Giono. On the hills and sunny slopes, she cover the fields with her brightest blue and purple shadow.

Originally from Persia and the Canary Islands, the lavender has been established in Provence since Antiquity. The Egyptians perfumed their tombs with it. The Greeks and Romans used it to perfume their bath and laundry water. It is probably from these purifying functions that its botanical name Lavandula, derived from the Latin lavare meaning 'to wash'.

Its was used by all social classes during the 19th century. It then becomes one of the bases of the manufacture of perfumes.

You can find it in the mountains of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the Hautes-Alpes massifs, the Vaucluse plateaus, the Drôme mountains and especially the Valensole plateau in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence between Manosque and Moustiers Sainte Marie.

From late June to mid-August, three varieties of lavender flourish in the landscape. Starting with fine lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), also called true or officinal lavender. By far, it gives off the strongest scent. It is very often found in essential oils. It grows everywhere in Provence, especially in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

Aspic lavender, known as "Lavendula latifolia" is, for its part, very little cultivated in Provence, but especially in the Cévennes. In shrub form, it grows in small mountains, loves the Mediterranean climate and has a camphor scent

Finally, lavandin is one of the hybrid varieties. This mix of aspic and fine lavender thrives fully at altitude, between 600 and 1500m. This variety is also extracted for essential oils.

Lavender is at the origin of the modern perfume industry. It is used in the constitution of many perfumes. We add others in varying numbers and proportions in order to obtain a very precise scent.

Chanel, Dior, Lanvin ... most of the major perfumers use the essence of lavender in their laboratories. But lavender is also used in the composition of perfumed soaps, colognes, lotions and various creams. Lavender water perfumes the bath and makes a delicious eau de toilette.

The traditional lavender festival is awaited every summer by many visitors. On the program: visit to the distilleries and lavender fields, with hand-cutting demonstrations, horse-drawn carriage rides, regional market, parade of washerwomen...

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