I’m thrilled to share some local knowledge about Provence, France from L’Occitane founder Olivier Baussan. Olivier launched the incredible L’ Occitane skincare line in 1976 inspired by the legendary lavender fields and other natural ingredients that grow in the region. He shared his insider suggestions for a “Haute Provence” experience below. Enjoy!
STAY: Les Couvent Des Minimes Hotel
Beautiful stone inn that was built in 1613 as a convent, left abandoned in 1999, and converted into a hotel and spa in June 2008. This spring, the hotel and spa both underwent a major renovation, updating the look to better reflect modern times while maintaining the charm of the building that draws on the history of the location.
RELAX: Spa L’Occitane
Originally opened with the hotel in 1999, the spa was renovated in March 2015, as well. There are 80 L’Occitane affiliated spas all over the world, but only four Spa L’Occitane’s globally including this one (the others are in Hong Kong and Brazil). The Spa at LCDM is the most special because the entire experience, from the hotel to the surrounding area of Provence, is true to the L’Occitane spirit.
SEE: L’Occitane Factory
Located a 30 minute drive from the LCDM is the L’Occitane Factory where all products are formulated, produced and packaged. In June 2015, we added new attractions to the tour like a Mediterranean garden designed to offer visitors a natural, first-hand experience with the aromatic and medicinal plants used in L’Occitane’s skincare and fragrance ranges. Also located at the factory is the largest L’Occitane store in France, and the best place to find the newest L’Occitane products fresh off the line (at 10% off the retail price). Guided, complimentary tours are available Monday to Saturday.
DO: L’Occitane Ingredient Tour
If you’re interested in extending your natural emersion with L’Occitane ingredients, a tour with Kairos is the way to go. In 2012, our brand embarked upon a partnership with the company to highlight the spirit and values of L’Occitane by offering tours of our lavender and rose fields in the region. If you go, I recommend you request to visit the plateau de Valensole and the villages of Banon and Simiane la Rotonde. For every lavender field day tour, 50€ will be donated to the Provence Lavender Endowment fund to promote responsible tourism. To book you can contact Philip Haslett, +33 658 208 712.
SEE: Ecco Musee L’Olivier in Volx
Another great attraction in the area is my Olive Tree Museum in my hometown of Volx in the Luberon National Park. It’s another foray into the sensory world for me, and this time with edible ingredients. Open March-December, the museum offers exhibitions and free olive oil tastings daily with the opportunity to purchase delicious spices and tapenades made with entirely locally-grown olives.
DO: Les Calissons du Roy René
Calisson is to Provence, what the Hershey Bar is to America, an iconic candy. To describe, a Calisson is a subtle blend of finely ground Mediterranean almonds, Provençal melon and candied orange peel, all set on a wafer bed, coated with royal icing. It’s the number one sweet treat to try on a trip to the area. For the chef-minded, you can book a cooking class with the confection artists by calling the Roy René Confectionary at + 33 (0)4 42 39 29 82.
EAT: A Typical Provençal Dinner
Provençal dining is an experience, and Olivier recommends a few top restaurants in the area . Les Terrasses de Lurs in the Village of Lurs is a must-do as it just opened in 2014 [and sits on an elevated terrace overlooking the countryside]. Other favorites include Les Petites tables [the locavore, nearly vegetarian restaurant] at the Olive Tree Museum and Le Clôître and Le Pesquier onsite at LCDM.
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