On the Clansayes plateau in Provencal Drôme
After motoring through a stunning landscape of vineyards, white and green oak trees (you are clearly in the land of truffles and wine), meadows and steep hillsides, you reach the Clansayes plateau, opposite a restored farmstead that has lost nothing of its rural charm: a dog, (exceedingly affectionate) hens, bee hives, a troop of Rove goats in the distance (who sometimes agree to weed the fields) and, above all, blue fields with row upon row of this legendary plant.
Odile Tassi farms a few acres of lavender in this picture postcard landscape. When your eyes are as blue as lavender, it is perhaps unsurprising that you find yourself making essential oils and cosmetics! Indeed, who doesn’t love the scent of lavender? Rarely has a plant embodied the south of France and well-being so completely, both by its perfume and its colours that range from blue to grey.
The history of lavender goes back over centuries. Used by the Romans, the word lavender comes from the Latin, lavare (to wash). As Odile tells us:
“The Bible refers to lavender in the form of scented oil. Yet despite being so famous, the plant’s many virtues are surprisingly little known.”
In 2008, Odile, after a former life in the communication industry in Lyons, took over the reins of this farm. Today she is not only a lavender grower-distiller, but also creates cosmetics (and soon honey) and knows everything there is to know about lavender from its harvest and distillation to its aromatherapy virtues. She now markets some thirty products from essential oil of lavandin to digestive herbal teas.
Lavender - an order to breathe in deeply!
Did you know that there are three types of lavender? Fine lavender, aspic lavender and lavandin, a natural hybrid derived from aspic and fine lavenders, each of which is radically different and possesses its own quite unique properties. As our lavender-grower explains:
“aspic or large lavender is a powerful anti-inflammatory (which contains 30% of camphor), and also a neurotoxic; fine or true lavender, completely edible, is steeped in virtues and treats insomnia, headaches, intestinal disorders and regulates blood pressure. Finally, lavandin is a hybrid of the others and acts as an insect repellent, whilst healing spots and insect bites.”
If pressed to choose the most essential virtue of lavender, Odile smilingly tells us that lavender reminds us to breathe!
"I weed my lavender fields listening to Queen’s News of the World album. We will rock you and We are the champions always motivate and spur me into action."
"I love the “energy” and “faith” (not necessarily religious) of Etty Hillseum, a young Dutch Jew deported to Auschwitz who left behind her diaries and letters."
"Rudy’s rustic and whole-hearted food at the Vallaurie restaurant, among which his prawns with chorizo or crushed potato and truffles and olive oil – delicious in the heart of winter."
(Bistrot de Vallaurie, place Église Saint-Martin, 26230 Valaurie)
"Virginie Simian’s farm produce (pumpkin and truffle soup, truffle omelette, truffle cheese) is to die for."