Grignan

Les lavandes

Station

2

I am a farmer in Grignan, and I have been running the farm since 1969 on a small plot of land that originally belonged to my mother, covering 3 hectares. My father was also a farmer, and my grandfather was a miller. He owned a farm of 15 hectares which I later purchased. That’s where we began cultivating the first lavenders, or rather, lavandins.

The plants we grow here, often referred to as lavender, are actually lavandin. The difference lies in their mode of reproduction and the altitude at which they are grown. Lavender reproduces by seeds and grows above 1000 meters in altitude. On the other hand, lavandin is a hybrid between wild aspic and lavender, reproducing by cuttings: we divide the plant, take a piece, plant it, and it roots. Lavandin is sturdier and more voluminous, but the qualities of the essential oils differ. Lavender yields less at higher altitudes, with smaller plants, but its oil is much finer and possesses superior therapeutic properties. Lavandin, with its coarser scent and high camphor content, is excellent for relieving pain without curing it.

In my family, we have always used lavandin oil for its benefits. My father, my grandfather, and I use it to alleviate pain, and it works very well, although it’s not a miracle solution. In addition to its therapeutic uses, it is effective in soothing mosquito bites and minor burns.

Lavender attracts crowds, evoking holidays and the beauty of landscapes. Lavender fields are calming, both visually and aromatically. People are happy when they see lavender, and they are never aggressive amidst these fields. Lavender symbolizes peace and serenity.

Thanks to companies like L’Occitane, lavender cultivation is now known worldwide. However, we face significant climate challenges. Previously, with 10 hectares, we produced a certain quantity of flowers. Today, we need 25 hectares to obtain the same quantity, due to extreme climate variations. For example, 12 years ago, we lost 27 hectares of lavandin in just three years due to drought.

The limestone soils where lavender grows are often poor and challenging for other crops. But extreme temperatures and health issues, like attacks from leafhoppers (small moths that lay eggs in lavender stems), weaken the plants. Treatments are difficult as they can harm bees.

All of this could make it harder to find lavender fields as we do now, and that would be a real shame.