Lavender has a big role to play in Provence – it feeds the bees, scents the soap, flavours ice cream and provides confetti at weddings, but its oil is also used every day. In fact lavender oil is the most used essential oil in the world.

When there is a nit outbreak at the village school, the air will fill with the scent of lavender oil – a well-known insect repellent. And small cuts heal faster with a dab of lavender oil. It is also thought to be helpful in treating conditions as diverse as fungal infection, anxiety, acne and even hair loss!

In Provence, locals soothe their headaches by rubbing lavender oil on their temples, and some swear that having the dried flowers by the pillow helps you sleep – hence the market stands everywhere in Provence that sell little decorative bags of dried lavender. Science agrees: studies repeatedly show an improvement in sleep regularity when a pillow is scented with lavender.

Pain relief too! Muscular aches, rheumatism, back pain – rub some lavender oil in and you may well feel better. Recovering from major surgery? Then have the anaesthetist add lavender essential oil vapour into your oxygen and you will have less pain than with oxygen on its own (that’s according to ‘a study’).

But remember, as with most essential oils, you should absolutely not ingest it, and you should not use it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Lavender is an amazingly useful plant, but when you visit Provence you will more likely be interested in seeing fields of the stuff in full bloom, one of the most magnificent sites of the region. Be sure to get your timing right, the lavender is in flower from mid-June to early August.

For the best places and times to see the lavender fields, plus more ideas on how to use it, see here: Provence Lavender

And for the best places to stay when you come to Provence for the lavender, check out our hand-picked Provence vacation rentals!