© Jack Lincele Musee De La Lavande Luberon Provence Mila Musée De La Lavande Luberon | Mila Musée De La Lavande Luberon

A voyage of the senses at the Musée de la Lavande

We love its colour and heady scent and gaze in awe at its rolling fields of blue… In short, lavender never fails to pique our curiosity and awaken our imagination and senses. And Jack Lincelé, from Cabrières d’Avignon in the Luberon Regional Nature Reserve, certainly wouldn’t argue with that. The son of the founder of the “Musée de la Lavande” lavender museum, he talked to us about this unique hub of heritage know-how, redolent with the delicate scent of lavender.

Lavender – unique know-how handed down through generations

Tell us about the story of your family and its ties with lavender

Our family have been lavender producers for four generations – nearly five in fact. The lavender we produce is called true lavender, contrary to lavandin and other types of lavender that are actually hybrid varieties resulting from human intervention. True lavender is very special: it only grows in the mountains at an altitude of 900 metres and sows its seeds at the start of winter, unlike other types of lavender plant which flourish at low altitudes. Growing true lavender requires very special know-how, mastered only by around fifty growers in France. What surprises visitors to the museum is the evolution of true lavender growing from the 16th century to current day, and especially the fact that it still thrives today despite global warming. Every summer, we host distillation demonstrations using an old copper still that’s been in the family for generations. It’s amazing to see that it still functions after all these years: our expertise is alive and kicking and the joy it brings me never ceases to grow.

The mission of the Musée de la Lavande, a holder of the “Valeurs Parc Naturel Régional” label

What inspired your father, Georges Lincelé, to create the museum? What is its vocation?

It was a passion for true lavender that first drove my father to create the museum in 1991; he was committed to perpetuating the family’s unique know-how and promoting the benefits of true lavender versus other varieties. Today, it’s become a genuine conservatory for true lavender and is one of the only lavender museums in France honouring this ancient way of life and tradition. The museum offers a variety of tours on the lavender theme: traditional tours where you can find out all about the history of the plant, together with specialist-interest introductions to lavender growing and eco tours aimed at raising awareness on soil preservation, water and biodiversity. We also host sensory workshops designed to awaken the senses – in particular the power of our sense of smell. We offer hands-on thematic workshops too, where visitors can learn how to make lavender pouches and nesting boxes. The people who come here love being able to make a personal contribution.

A rare plant with a thousand and one properties

What little lavender secrets do you enjoy sharing with your visitors?

In Provence, lavender fields stretch as far as the eye can see, but true lavender is actually very rare. Its delicate, gentle and refined scent was at the origin of the first lavender perfumes. Out of the 200 metric tons of essential oils produced every year in France, only 10 tons are made with true lavender. Did you know that it also has many therapeutic properties? It is antimicrobial, antiseptic, soothing and healing… It really is a great all-rounder that everyone should have in a corner of their garden! True lavender was awarded an AOP (Protected Designation of Origin) label in 1981 and is the only plant in Europe with the distinction due to its rarity.

Your favourite spots in the Luberon

I was born in Apt so I’m a huge fan of our local treasures!

  • I love the serene and authentic charm of the village of Saignon, above Apt, where the houses cling like limpets to Belle-Vue rock, standing guard over the valley of Calavon and the Luberon like a sentinel.
  • I grew up among the colourful, ochre rocks of Roussillon. I never fail to be moved every time I visit the “Colorado of Provence”, Bruoux quarry or Ochre Ecomuseum, and I love sharing the experience with my family and friends.
  • I’ll never get tired of the view from the hilltop village of Gordes, or the way it lights up at sunset – it’s really magical. Every day, I get to drive from the museum in Coustellet to Château du Bois via Gordes and find it fascinating in both summer and winter.
  • I’m an avid foodie, so it’s always a pleasure to go up to Ménerbes to savour Pierre Mastre’s truffle creations at the “Maison de la Truffe et du Vin” nestling against the slopes of the Luberon – it’s a genuine moment out of time.
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