Lavender fields near cannes/ nice

Apr 14th, 2010, 10:11 PM
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Lavender fields near cannes/ nice

I will be in Cannes end of June. Having been there before and having done most of the fortified villages in and around the coast, I thought I'd go for the lavender fields this year. But I dont have a car & hence will have to rely on public buses/ train.

From my research, this is what I found:
From the Cote d'Azur (Nice-Cannes area), the nearest lavender fields are at the Pays de Valensole. The drive up to Castellane is about 1h30. From Castellane, it's 45 km west across the Gorges de Verdon to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, at the northern end of the Lac de Sainte Croix. This takes about an hour with the summer traffic, but you should allow some time to stop and enjoy the view as well. From Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the road west climbs up to the Valensole plateau and directly into the lavender fields. The total journey (one-way) would be about 2-1/2 hours, excluding stopping to look around.

Does anyone know if any of this can be done by public transport?

sasha_g is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 05:46 AM
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sasha_g is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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Doubt it - except by a private driver. Here is something I wrote about these lavender fields.

Valensole Plateau, Lavender & Poppy fields, Riez, & Moustiers allow a full day

This excursion can be a day trip from either Aix-en-Provence or from the Luberon. The highlights of a drive through the Valensole plateau are the lovely lavender and poppy fields. We drove this route on June 14 when both the lavender & poppies were in full bloom, although I suspect the lavender was blooming early due to the hotter than normal temperatures encountered during the prior 3 weeks in ‘03. I would only recommend this trip if you are visiting during the lavender season (mid-June through July).

Leave Aix north on the A51 and get off at exit # 17 – it’s probably marked Cadarache or Greoux. If you are departing from the Luberon near Apt, go east along the N100, then take the D907 through Manosque and then the D82 to Greoux les Bains.

This drive is described in the Green Michelin Guide for the French Alps under “VALENSOLE”.

I always try to plan my driving routes so that the sun is behind me if it’s late or early in the day. The prettiest section of this drive is along the D8 from Greoux through Valensole until the D8 hits the D953, and then the D953 to Riez. The best time to do this drive is in the afternoon on a clear & sunny day so that you can see the Pre-Alps to the east with the sun shining on them, and the sun will be at your back while driving.

I’ll describe this excursion starting from Greoux early in the AM – try to get there by 9:00 on a Saturday or by 9:30 on Tues through Friday. Leave Greoux on the D952 toward Riez. There are some poppy fields along the way between St Martin & Allemagne (remember, poppies may be finished blooming by late June).

Stop & visit Riez*, which has a wonderful Saturday AM market. As I have stated before, it took me about 15 years to realize that it’s never smart to visit or even drive through a town on a Sunday, Monday, or during the lunch closing (12:30 to 3:00 or so), because the town will be all “shuttered-up” with those ugly aluminum shutters & the town will look like it’s preparing for an invasion. We drove through Riez on a Sunday in ’99 & the town had no appeal at all. When we were there in June ’03 on a Saturday, the market was going strong, people were having coffee at the cafés under the plane trees, and the shops with their pretty window displays were open – quite a contrast from our prior (’99) Sunday visit. Explore Riez – see the Green Guide for a map (if you’re visiting during the Sat market, you can park in the large lot along Ave Fr. Mistral, just before you cross the river). Walk east along Allee Gardio to Place de la Colonne (where the fountain is located), and then turn left (west) & try to find City Hall (Hotel de Ville) in a cute courtyard – poke your nose inside the Hotel de Ville a bit. Continue west along the narrow R Basse, which has some outdoor restaurants. When you hit the Church, curve right go east on Grand Rue – which parallels R Basse. There are a lot of medieval mansions than have been turned into residences along this street. When we were there in June ’03, Grand Rue was blocked off for a portion where they were doing a major preservation of a very old mansion. If it’s still blocked, take a road north to R Ste Thecle to bypass this construction.

Contiune on the D952 to Moustiers** and get the cameras ready. In the afternoon sun, the view of Moustiers from the west is spectacular. Explore Moustiers – of course, it’s not only a very cute village, it’s one of the most famous faience (pottery) centers in France. My wife enjoyed the Musee de la Faience (I waited outside), and we also climbed up to the church. Wander around town & enjoy the shops, but beware of the lunch closings. In ’99 we had dinner at Les Santons (which was a Michelin 1 star restaurant), but I was very disappointed with the restaurant (a year later it lost its 1 star).

If it is later in the day, and it’s clear & sunny, return to Greoux. I’ll describe the route from there, but if you don’t want to do any back-tracking, then start the route at Riez. Remember to look back for a great view of Moustiers when you leave. To get the best vantage points, we have driven on several of the roads that exit Moustiers to the west.

Leave Greoux on the D8 toward Valensole. There are some nice lavender & poppy fields before you reach Valensole. Go through Valensole (stop if you have the time) & continue on the D8. There are more lavender fields along the way & a spectacular field just past the Brunet exit. When you hit the D953, turn right toward Riez. There are more lavender fields along this road and you will see some large “silos” – I don’t know if these are connected with lavender processing. Just before Puimoisson, turn left on the D108 toward St Jurs. Drive up to this village & get your camera ready. You should be able to see the Pre Alps in the afternoon on a sunny & clear day. The setting of St Jurs is very picturesque - my wife’s camera broke while trying to take a picture. Return to the D953 and continue toward Riez. Around Puimoisson, there are some spectacular lavender fields. As you descend toward Riez, the lavender fields stop. At Riez, turn northwest and take the D6 toward Valensole. Pass through Valonsole & continue on the D15 (northwest) toward Forcalquir/Manosque/A51. There are more spectacular lavender fields along the D15. When the D15 hits the D4, go north on the D4 along the Durance River & get on the A51 or N100 and head back to Aix or the Luberon.

If you enjoy very unusual rock formations and have 30 minutes to spare, visit Rochers (rocks) des Mees*. When you get to the A51/N100 split off the D4 at Oraison, go north on the D4 toward Les Mees. Continue on the D4 to Les Mees (do not go into Les Mees). Turn left at Les Mees & go across the Durance & get on the N96 north towards Chateau Arnoux, where you will get on the N85 going south toward Digne. You should get some pretty good views of the rocks – they are quite interesting. Return by going back to Les Mees on the D4 (more views of the rocks) & pick up the A51 to Aix, or the N96 to the N100 for a return to the Luberon.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 08:20 AM
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Yup i have driven thru it and it's a fairly remote area with seemingly sparse public buses - no passenger trains. But to check the Regional Transports brochure for each region that shows all public transports - should be online somewhere it seems
Palenque is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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You could go to Avignon by train, then into the Lubéron by bus to see the fields by the Abbaye de Sénanque. But bus service is pretty sketchy--is hiring a car out of the question?
Underhill is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 10:50 AM
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In how many forums you ask the same question?
stldv is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 11:00 AM
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There is a bus route that goes between Cavaillon and Apt, I believe. But if you want a tour like this, I think the best thing is to buy a tour from a company that specializes in those things for tourists, as regular bus routes may not be that scenic. There are day tour companioes that do this, of course, you can find info at tourist offices in Avignon or Aix.
Christina is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 11:03 AM
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sorry I saw you want this from Cannes, probably not likely that day tour companies will go that far from those locations.

Here's a company someone was considering on another thread, I thought they had some good tours. They do have one to lavender fields from Cannes

See Provence countryside that looks like a good idea for you
Christina is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 09:09 PM
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Thanks everyone.

Stu - your trip report transcened me to the Lavender fields - now I really want to do it badly.

Christina - I have seen that tour on Viator as well - but have done the rest of the itinerary already, hence it will not serve my purpose.

Underhill - even I am thinking of thinking beyond Cannes - maybe base myself at Avignon & do the trip.

And Stldv - I am a member of thorntree as well, so yes, I have posted the same question there too. You never know where you get the right info. from.

Thanks again.
sasha_g is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2010, 10:11 PM
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this is a great idea, sasha. I am in Nice for one day only and would love to do this as well if there is time. I would probably just rent a car.
ncounty is offline  

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