Finally, a lavender festival, french and proper, and in one of the most charming villages in Provence. There are several fêtes that I know of (in Sault, Ferrassières, and Valensole) but this is the first time we got the timing right in order to see one.
For being the 1st edition to take place in Banon, the program and organization was really top-notch: lots of vendors selling an assortment of lavender items, food stalls with tempting displays of goat cheese and cured meats, cute knick-knacks, and entertainment for the kids. As a nice memento to take home, you could fashion your own bouquet from the cut lavender heaped onto the ground. Cafes and restaurants were all open for business and a few food trucks were on the premises – something for everyone!
Initially I was concerned about the parking but I needn’t have worried. Drivers were directed just outside the village and you could either walk or catch the free shuttle into town. It was another hot July day as usual, so it was great that dogs could hop aboard as well.
It would’ve been so much fun if we had stayed to see the folk dance group in the afternoon, but the heat was awful for the pups so we had to call it a day. Hopefully this will be a repeat event for years to come. Great job Banon!
The best little cheese shop in Banon.
With just one full day for exploring, the plan was to stock up on fromage, go to Banon to buy fixings for a picnique, and pay a visit to the rose garden at l’Abbaye de Valsaintes. Located in Boulinette (southeast of Simiane-La-Rotonde), the 45-minute drive should’ve been a piece of cake. But when you’re oohing and aahing over every little view in the french countryside, that number tends to draw out. It didn’t help that we came across signs like this.
Following the cheese trail!
And again further on, with an arrow that shows 3.2 km to go. My fondness for the horned beasts goes way back to when I was a kid (pun intended!) at my grandpa’s goat farm on Kauai, so this brought up a lot of memories. When we arrived at Le Petit Tourtouil, a sign on the gate said that the farm was open when the owner was in, or… after 6:30pm. Flies everywhere, which is one aspect that I had totally forgotten about, being around goats n’ all. I only remember poop!
Eventually we make it out to Valsaintes Abbey garden, but not before chasing more cheese signs. A note about the weather: we were lucky to have pleasant day conditions – 20°-23°C – during the whole time. Provence can get awfully hot and we’ve never had it so good on any of our previous trips. Forecasts report a sizzling 30°-34°C in Cruis this weekend and I would’ve been one hot mess if our plans were off by a week! Next up…part 2 of les Goats N’Roses