There are always flowers for those who want to see them
– Henri Matisse
We all need to travel to wake up our senses and rediscover who we are without the demands of our stressful lives. You don’t have to travel far - a trip to a local campground or a weekend away at the quaint little town a few hours away can do the trick. But what if you have the itch to really explore something you have yet discovered? What if that voice is telling you to travel to the Emerald City.
A Spring Poppy Tour in Provence
Exploring Provence while the poppies are in bloom is almost as magical as the lavender – and no, these poppies will not put you to sleep like the ones in the Wizard of Oz – no opium here and sorry if you are disappointed 🙂
I say almost as magical because the poppies don’t have the liberating aroma of lavender. However, red velvet laid out like a blanket covering the earth is nothing short of spectacular (and if red happens to be your favorite color like mine, then double excitement!).
I suggest focusing on the Luberon – at least that is where my heart has been captured with the poppy magic. There are two distinct sides to explore in the Luberon; the North and the South. Each side has its own soul and atmosphere, along with the poppies of course too.
The other day I was talking with some French friends about our favorite region in Provence. While we all agreed that each region had its own particular charm seducing both tourist and local, The Luberon stuck out for its diversity – mountains, valleys, cherry trees, olive groves, vineyards, lavender, truffles and poppies. Add to this its own historical anecdotes, stunning hilltop views, an array of local artisans and the unique deposit of ochre around Roussillon.
Here are just a few of the gems in the Luberon to explore in-between your poetic poppy moments
- Private garden tour in Bonnieux – Jardin de la Louve created in 1986 with 10 years of work by the stylist Nicole de Vésian (Hermés). Specific dates for tours on website*
- Chateau d’Ansouis – private tours at 3pm with the owner, Frederique*
- Wine tasting and rose garden tour at Chateau Val Joanis
- Cooking lesson with chef Edouard Loubet at Domaine de Capelongue in Bonnieux (lesson starts with picking local herbs in the morning in the hillsides of the domaine – including poppies for a succulent sauce)*
- Abbey Saint Hilaire and its atypical 13th century architecture
- Gourmet walking tour in Isle sur la Sorgue (cheese, chocolate, wine and crystallized fruits)*
- A colorful walk through the ochre trails (Colorado Provencal) and the Mines de Bruoux galleries (over 40 km of underground galleries used to mine the ochre in late 19th century) – set time tours see website*
Before ending your Luberon poppy tour, why not explore the irises of Van Gogh. The Alpilles region is West of the Luberon, on the other side of the Durance river. When you cross the river, you leave the Vaucluse and enter the Bouches-du-Rhône department.
Here will find yourself immersed into the paintings of Van Gogh. The season will be prime for seeing the irises of Van Gogh and strolling among them in the garden at the asylum (Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint-Remy de Provence) where he painted around 150 of his works. You can also visit the enchanting Alchemist garden on the grounds of the Renaissance Mas de la Brune labelled Historical Site & Remarkable Garden (open weekends or by appointment during the week). If you happen to be near this garden on a Friday, go to the nearby village, Eygalières for its Provencal market where you can find the perfect mix for your picnic lunch in the Alpilles.
This tour encompassing both the south and north Luberon as well as the Alpilles around Saint-Remy and Les Baux de Provence can be done in 6 nights, 7 days. If you have fewer days then focus only on the Luberon region for the unique magic of red poppy fields.
Why not make this an active tour?
Don’t forget to add in some outdoor sports such as hiking and cycling (electric bikes also possible in the Luberon). The Luberon is paradise for the outdoorsy person.
Need help planning? Want to be hosted by your YPP for authentic and stress-free travel?
Perhaps this poppy magic has got you dreaming of Provence but you don’t have the time to tailor your own tour. Contact Emily today. She still has the first two weeks of May open to chauffeur you around with your VIP tailored made poppy tour itinerary.
*Some tours are by appointment only or at set times and run only in French. Please check their websites for additional information on these select places. Traveling with a private guide ensures there is no language barrier when visiting off-the-beaten track sites.
For the fun of it – read the excerpt from The Wizard of Oz of Dorthy falling asleep in the poppy field!