Sunflower is not as praised as the iconic lavender in Provence, however, sunflower fields are no less picturesque. If you're visiting Provence in July, you'll be in awe from wonderful vivid fields of sunflowers right next to the renowned purple lavender hills. The rows of sunflowers are often used to divide the fields too. It's the unique scenery you'll never forget! No wonder Van Gogh was inspired by it.
To make a picture of beautiful sunflower fields, take the rural road D942 from Carpentras to Avignon or a road between Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Noves. There are several fields near Orange and Manosque. You will see endless fields of tall sunflowers pointing their heads to greet the sun. Don't forget to take sunscreen lotion and comfortable shoes. Sunflowers bloom from late June through July. Some fields are still blooming in early August.
One of the best places to spot both sunflowers and lavender is the Valensole plateau in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. You can check it out on the way to the famous Verdon Gorge. The plateau is surrounded by the small villages of Esparron-de-Verdon, Saint-Martin-de-Brômes, and Riez. They hold special flower festivities during the summer.
There's a Greek myth about the origin of the sunflower. It says that Apollo, the god of the sun, had two mistresses, water nymphs named Clydia and Leucothoé. They were sisters and once Clydia got jealous and told their father, Ocean, about this liaison. He was so furious, he buried his younger daughter alive. After this Apollo left Clydia who let herself waste away. When Apollo noticed her despair, he was so touched, he turned her into a sunflower so that she was always turned towards the sun.