Sunday, September 16, 2012

Aurel and Lavender Fields on the Road to Saint Saturnin-lès-Apt

On Thursday morning a few weeks back, I was reading the paper at Café des Sports in Sablet and chatting with Café owner Bruno, when he wasn't shouting "bonjour" or sharing gossip with new arrivals, mostly men, stopping in for a quick petit café or some other fortifying beverage before going off to work.

Most of Bruno's patrons are regulars and he starts to make espressos or pour glasses of red wine as soon as they appear. By the time the new arrival has made his way down the length of the bar and said hello and face kissed with everyone there, Bruno has their morning beverage ready.

It was a perfect day in Provence and I was in no hurry. The night before I had been guest at Bruno and Sylvie's beautiful home in Vaison-la-Romaine. We met for aperitifs at Festival Café in the center of Vaison-la-Romaine where their son works before sitting down for dinner of barbecued magret de canard (duck breast) at the table on their backyard terrace.

As I was leaving the Café, Bruno asked about my plans for the day. I said "I'm thinking of going to Sault to see if the lavender is in bloom." Bruno responded "Est ce que tu connais le village d’Aurel?" (do you know the village of Aurel). I didn't so he told me Aurel was a pretty little village near Sault where he he used to work and there is lots of lavender between Aurel, Sault and Saint Saturnin-lès-Apt.

I checked my Michelin map and located Aurel about 36 miles east of Sablet on the road to Sault. Aurel is a perched village with a joined 12th century church and 13th century chateau at the top of the village.

The main fountain in the center of the village.

There doesn't appear to be very much commercial activity in Aurel.

There is one hotel-bar-restaurant, the Relais du Mt Ventoux on the main road near the center of Aurel. The shady terrace across the street from the front door was very inviting as I drove by and I turned around and went back to have a very pleasant lunch.

You can walk around the 13th-century chateau and the 12th-century church at the top of the village, but these are privately owned and not open to the public.

After lunch, I continued on the road to Sault. Although somewhat early in the growing season, I found lavender blooming in some of the fields in between Aurel and Sault and then more on the road to Saint Saturnin-lès-Apt.

Aurel sits in an area of wide valleys with many lavender fields and grain and low forested hills.

Another lavender field.

And still another one.

The air is pungent with the aroma of lavender from this well manicured field.

I am frequently asked what we do in Provence or what is so special about Provence by guests who come to dine at our Bistro Des Copains. I have a whole list but the lavender fields is always on the list.

Next up will be a post about my visit to Saint Saturnin-lès-Apt. Have a great week! Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.


  1. I have yet to see lavender fields. I have though quite a lot of lavender in the garden so I can appreciate the pungent aroma in the fields. Great photos.
    Bonne journée Diane

  2. Never been to Aurel but thank you for sharing this Michel, so next year I will know where to go if I take visiting friends to see the lavender.

  3. Bruno sounds like an excellent resource and I can't wait to visit that side of Provence - your lavender photos are simply gorgeous!

  4. Gorgeous! I miss the lavender already.
    My mother and I share a bottle of white from Sablet the other day :)

  5. Diane - There is almost nothing more beautiful than walking into a field of blooming lavender.

    Barbara - It is definitely a very good area to see the lavender.

    Tuula - Thanks! You need to take another road trip.

    Sara - I am glad to hear that you are supporting the Sablet economy. I hope the wine was a good one.