Lovers of all things lavender will be in heaven at the exceptional Musee de la Lavande in Luberon, Lavender Museum Coustellet, near Gordes, Provence. It’s the labor of love of Le Chateau de Bois, which has the largest growing estate of fine lavender designated PDO (mark of quality, Protected Designation of Origin) in the world. We’re talking everything from a museum with antique copper tills showing the process of extracting the oils from the flowers and a VIP tasting room with all things lavender, to a sensory painting workshop and very large shop. Plus, you can learn about how to ensure you have the real lavender rather than a prolific hybrid called lavandin which is more commonly used.
Used by the Romans as perfume and to add fragrance to newly washed clothes, Lavender grows only in very high altitudes, in the mountains. It takes 7500 sprIgs of lavender to make one fluid ounce of the oil. It’s a ten year cycle from seed to harvest. Besides the well known light violet flower, it also comes in pink and white varieties. Lavender oil is used by the prestigious perfume houses – Chanel, Guerlain, and others and for medicinal purposes and sleep therapy. You know you have real lavender from France if it has the label, AOP (Appellation Origine Protegée – or PDO ). Lavendin, on the other hand,is grown all over the world, from sea level to higher levels of elevation. It is much lower priced and often used in detergents and to perfume deodorants.
There’s an hour long self audio guided museum tour. Afterwards, you make your way to the tasting discovery where we tried parmesan-lavender cookies, lavender macarons, a beverage made with lavender syrup and fine lavender tea, which is relaxing and digesting !
The Museum’s workshop offers a 5 Senses workshop incuding a scented-waterpainting activity using 11 different scented paints among them – of course – lavender. They provide all of the equipment.
Finish your visit with a look (and surely some purchases) at the Le Château Du Bois Boutique selling everything from organic and local products for body and face care, to special offerings for the bath, for men, home fragrance and perfume.
And a valuable tip….I asked why my bags of lavender sachet seem to lose their fragrance after a few weeks. They said you need to squeeze the sachet every few weeks to extract the most fragrance. Since my return, I’ve put some oil on my pillow…..sweet dreams!
Le Chateau du Bois products are sold onlinewww.lechateaudubois.fr
No reservation is required to visit the museum. It is open 7 days a week.