If you were curious, the French do say oh là là over here. We’ve heard it a couple of times and learned that it was actually used pretty regularly. It’s typically used when someone is surprised or as a way to react to something. In one situation where we heard someone speak the phrase, a biker and a moped were colliding with each other (way more common than you think), and a passerby said “oh là là” at the sight. As we are trying to fit in as much as we can, we are attempting to add this into our French conversations with each other!
Oh là là! les champs de lavande sont fantastiques! Last weekend, we spent our Fourth of July in the car driving around France. Nothing screams American like willingly spending the day driving in a car. We were lucky enough to see the lavender fields (and sunflower fields too!) in full bloom in France. I had already asked Jordan if we could drive to see them, but then our French teacher also told us we had to go and gave us a few recommendations. She said the lavender fields were a treasure in France (“c’est un trésor”), so we had no excuses not to go!
Most of the lavender fields are just that – fields. Not something that you pay to see or a tourist attraction. We had looked up where our French teacher had recommended and also did research online to find out where to see the fields. This was pretty difficult as there were minimal GPS coordinates available for where to go, and it just seemed like you had to drive and get lucky. I found one website, Marvellous-Provence, that recommended the best lavender driving routes. We decided to loosely follow one of the routes this website recommended and built our plan.
The lavender fields are primarily found in the Provence region of France, but can also be found in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region where we live. Depending on the year, the lavender fields will typically bloom from mid-June to mid-July, so there’s a short window on when you can experience them. Many of the fields in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region are harvested earlier than in the Provence region. We may have been a week too late to get the full impact of seeing purple fields all across the countryside as we saw many fields that were already harvested for the year. However, there was still plenty of lavender to be seen! It was truly a special experience and neither of us had ever seen any fields like this before. The sunflower fields were just an amazing bonus!
We stayed in the Drôme Provençale and Vaucluse areas of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region for our drive. At most of the places we stopped, it was just us pulling off on the side of the road, grabbing our cameras, and being respectful of the fields. It was mainly me saying, “oh this looks cool we have to go take a photo!” and then Jordan trying to figure out where to turn around and where to pull off the road. We didn’t pick anything and only walked in-between the lavender or stayed on the outskirts of the fields so we wouldn’t damage any of the plants.
The fields were full of busy honey bees, and we could hear a low hum when we got closer to the fields. I know that honey bees are the “good” kind of bees and won’t bother us, but I was still skeptical about it. I’ve only been stung by anything once in my life, and that was only recently! Throughout the day with each field we went to I became more comfortable with the idea of being surrounded by bees (yes, even the good kind). I was so proud of myself for facing my fear and allowing myself to get closer by the end of the day.
Saou was probably our favorite spot to see lavender. It is only about two hours from Lyon and provided the most stunning backdrop to the endless rows of lavender! We stumbled upon this location by chance and were so lucky to have found it.
Grignan was the most touristy spot where we drove to find lavender fields, but we couldn’t resist going there for this view. High up on the hill is the Château de Grignan. Originally built in the 1100s, the history is kind of messy and it was basically ruins from the late 1700s until the early 1900s when it got restored. We drove up to the top to quickly explore and grab a snack. The streets were hilly and narrow and there were a lot of people enjoying an afternoon aperitif. We were excited to continue our drive through the countryside to see more lavender fields so we didn’t spend too much time walking around. The afternoon sun was perfect as the lavender fields were in the shade while the city was still illuminated.
After our long drive on Saturday, we realized we needed dinner and grabbed pizza to go from a local shop on our route. We didn’t have anywhere to eat it, so we pulled off onto the side of the road to eat and watched the most vibrant and beautiful sunset that we’ve seen since moving here. We also got to see the nearly full moon rise over the mountains and it was the perfect spot to stop for dinner!
On Sunday, we met up with two of Jordan’s coworkers to play golf at the Mionnay golf club. I haven’t played golf since 2011, and I’ve really never “played golf” where I kept score, but thought it would be a fun way to spend the day and talk to someone other than Jordan. My golf glove, unused in nine years, began to disintegrate as soon as I put it on to use it. There were no carts and we walked the entire 18 holes, and then some, as we looked for our rogue golf balls. I lost count of how many golf balls the four of us lost that day, but I definitely lost the most. According to Jordan, this wasn’t a normal way to play golf… as there was no beer cart! Having a nice, refreshing panaché (beer with lemonade) after spending hours in the hot sun was the best reward.
This weekend, we are off to the city of love, Paris! We’ve both been before (separately) but can’t wait to spend the weekend exploring… and eating at Chipotle.