Best time to visit Provence & French Riviera

Saffron Farms in Provence & French Riviera

A precious spice is made out of the beautiful and tender flowers of saffron in Provence

Best time: September–October

Saffron Farms
Saffron Farms

A much more humble looking flower than the famous lavender, the crocus, blooms all around Provence in autumn. These delicate little flowers are the source of the region's 'red gold'—saffron spice.

Saffron flowers usually are in full bloom only for a day, so farmers have to be quick. They wither under the sun and have to be picked at dawn. Then the stigma, a little red filament, has to be gently detached from the flower and dried for the next 24 hours and left to mature for a couple of months. Like other farms in Provence, saffron farms also offer work for volunteers. It's a great opportunity to learn and experience something new and taste some delicate Provençal treats.

Provence is dappled with saffron farms. Witness the beauty in Vaucluse, Les Alpes de Haute Provence, Bouches du Rhone, Var and the Alpes Maritimes

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Provence for saffron farm experiences?

Saffron farms in Provence are best visited from September to October, during which time the crocus flowers used to make saffron bloom. The saffron flowers are extremely delicate and picked quickly as they last only a day. After picking, the saffron flowers are dried for twenty-four hours and left to mature for some time before becoming a spice. This highly-priced spice is used in cooking, perfumes, and medicinal purposes. Show more

Where are the most popular saffron farms in Provence and the French Riviera?

Although numerous saffron farms dot the land in Provence and the French Riviera, popular ones are situated in Bouches du Rhone, Les Alpes de Haute Provence, Var, Alpes Maritimes, and Vaucluse. Visitors can experience saffron harvesting, processing, and taste authentic Provençal delicacies in these areas. Show more

How long does it take for saffron flowers to mature into spice?

The stigmas of saffron flower after being picked, are dried for one day before maturing for two to three months. The mature stigmas are then packaged into saffron which is used in cooking, medicinal purposes, and perfumes. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices across the globe. Show more

What are the volunteer opportunities available at saffron farms in Provence?

Volunteers can work on saffron farms in Provence and learn about the complete process of harvesting the delicate crocus flowers, processing their stigmas into saffron, and tasting Provençal dishes along the way. Such an experience provides visitors with the opportunity to discover the picturesque landscapes of Provence and the French Riviera. Show more

Apart from the saffron farms, what are some other unique experiences in Provence and the French Riviera during autumn?

Visitors to Provence and the French Riviera can indulge in other unique experiences during autumn, apart from visiting saffron farms. They can explore the stunning autumn foliage while hiking and visiting the beautiful towns and villages. The grape harvest season provides an opportunity for truffle hunting, wine tasting sessions, and enjoying the beautiful beaches before winter sets in. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin