“Where and when can I see the flowers in France (particularly lavender fields)?” This is one of our most-asked enquiries.
While this does vary (and is changing as the climate changes), in general, the best time for flowers like blossoms, chestnut flowers, daffodils, anemones, and other spring bulbs is Spring (April to June). The best time for flowers like lavender, sunflowers, and poppies is Summer (June to August). Bear in mind that the South of France is warmer and tends to have flowers earlier than colder regions in the North. Unfortunately, the regions and small villages where you’re likely to see the best array of flowers are generally not accessible by rail or other public transport, so you will need to rent a car or do day trips with a tour company.
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TIP: Peak flower season is also peak travel season, so you will need to book far in advance and be aware that roads and towns are likely to be very busy.
Lavender (lavande) and Lavandin (lavande gross): mid-June to mid-August – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Venturing further south, you will find yourself in the picturesque region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, famous for its lavender and lavandin fields. (Feature image: Simiane-la-Rotonde in the PACA region.) The lavender season typically runs from mid-June to mid-August, with the peak bloom occurring around mid-July. The hills of the Luberon region, including the villages of Valensole and Sault, are beautiful in themselves but even more stunning with the addition of lavender as a background. Some lavender farms offer the opportunity to learn about lavender production and purchase lavender products.
Blossoms (fleurs): late-May to early-April – Paris and Normandy
These delicate flowers in Paris typically bloom from March to early April, bringing a touch of pink and white to the capital and many other cities and country sides throughout France. One of the most renowned places to witness cherry blossoms in Paris is in the gardens of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Parc de Sceaux, Parc de Bagatelle, and near the Eiffel Tower. These can be out as early as end-February, depending on the weather. Normandy is ideal for orchards of apple and pear blossoms. However, you will see blossoms throughout France in spring.
Roses (roses): May to July
Between May and July, roses bloom throughout France. Lyon has a rich history of rose cultivation, and the public gardens like the Parc de la Tête d’Or, boast gorgeous colourful displays. In approximately May or June, the International Festival of Roses takes place here. Doué-la-Fontaine, near Saumur, known as the European Capital of the Rose has the Les Chemins de la Rose, open from March to November, and the annual Days of the Rose exhibition.
Grasse, known as the perfume capital of the world has numerous rose fields and gardens. The flowering season usually begins in May, reaching its peak in June and July. While you’re there, we recommend a visit to the Fragonard perfume museum in its majestic 1926 building, where you can take part in a fragrance workshop. You can also visit the 2 other perfume ‘giants’ of the region Galimard and Molinard. There are dozens more places to see roses in France, including the Rose Garden of Saverne in the Alsace region, the Roseraie de Provins in Provins near Paris, and many chateaus and manor houses with their own rose gardens.
Poppies (coquelicots): late-May to early-July – Provence
One of France’s most iconic flowers is the bright-red poppy and they are particularly connected with WWII remembrance. The best time to see the poppy fields is around May, particularly in the beautiful region of Provence. The rolling hills near the villages of Gordes and Roussillon are famous for their glowing poppy fields. These flowers are not cultivated and, sadly, due to increasingly intensive agriculture, there are less and less poppy fields every year, so sightings aren’t guaranteed.
Sunflowers (tournesols): mid-July to early-August – Provence
These tall, golden flowers can be seen in the sunny region of Provence from mid-July to early August. The town of Arles, located in the heart of Provence, is particularly renowned for its sunflower fields. Cycling or driving through the winding roads is the ideal way to experience these blooms.
The above is based on general dates and regions. However, with the changing climate, these are not guaranteed. Therefore, it is important to check before you go – social media or emailing are best.
Important note: Bear in mind that many of these flowers are on privately owned farmland and most farmers do not permit people to just walk through their lavender or sunflower fields as they’re very valuable crops. Always check if you are permitted to go near them and respect signs that advise you to stay out (e.g. Propriété privée (private property) Défense d’entrer (no admittance). There are a few places which do welcome visitors onto parts of their farms. This means that, unless you specifically seek out these visitor-friendly farms, you may not get that iconic ‘walking in the lavender’ shot.