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