Friday, April 16, 2010

Tulips in Provence

When I think about flowers in Provence, some of the visual images that immediately come to mind include lavender, sunflowers, coquelicots and cherry blossoms in the orchards below Venasque.

One morning last spring as I was driving along the D977 heading toward Sablet from the Marseille airport, I came upon this field of tulips near Violes.

I was surprised because tulips in Provence were a new sight for me. This was our first visit to Sablet during this time of the year so I guess I should have expected to see sights I had not seen before.

I grew up in Southwestern Michigan about one hour south of Holland Michigan. I recall that an annual event during my elementary school years was a field trip every spring to see the tulips in Holland Michigan; so fields of tulips were not new for me. Just new for me in Provence.

As I looked at this field of tulips that day, I assumed, wrongly I found out later, that these tulips were being grown to be sold as cut flowers by village flower shops and vendors at the various markets that occur on a daily basis throughout France.

A few days later when I drove by the same field, the tulips were being cut by a lawn mower type of machine. It was obvious that these flowers were not destined for a vase on any one's kitchen table.

I asked around and found out that these tulips were being grown for export of the bulbs to Netherlands. I wonder despite European rules otherwise whether markets in the Netherlands will put a sign "grown in Provence France" when they are sold there.

We will be back in Sablet very soon. I wonder what new things we will see this time.

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