Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sunshine and Lavander

Situated in an arid, rocky valley in the Luberon region of Provence, sits the 12th century Romanesque monastery "L'Abbaye de Senanque". This Cistercian abbey is still a place of monastic life, where the monks work in the fields of agriculture and tourism. This hot, dry, sun drenched area of Provence provides the perfect conditions for lavander to flourish. The stark beauty of the plain gray stone building of the abbey provides the perfect back drop for the flourishing blossoms of lavander growing in the adjacent fields. "Living from the work of their hands", is one of the directives written by Saint Benedict in the 6th century. For this reason, the monks work hard to tend to their daily chores, which include the growing and harvesting of the lavander.

Lavander reaches its full bloom sometime between mid July into August. It is then harvested and dried or distilled into essential oils. These dried flowers and extracts will be used to make a variety of aromatic toillette products (soaps, perfumes, sachets,etc.), lavander flavoured flavoured foods (like honey, an all time favourite of mine), herbal teas, and even products that are used for their healing properties.

Visiting "L'Abbaye de Senanque" is a "should do" when visiting Provence.

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