Lavender Museum in Provence

The day after our trip to Marseille, we decided to visit the Lavender Museum in Provence. My wife tells me that Lavender is one of the major crops from this area, and hence it was worth a trip there just to learn about Lavender. As no dogs were allowed in the Museum, I stayed outside with Rosie our dog, while my wife and daughters joined the tour inside the Museum.

Lavender Museum in Cabrieres-d'Avignon, France
Lavender Museum in Cabrieres-d’Avignon, France

Rosie and I stayed outside and sat on the plastic chairs where there was a stack of lavender and a distiller on display. Little did we know that within half an hour, we would be shown how the Lavender was processed to distill the essential oils.

Lavender waiting to be processed
Lavender waiting to be processed outside of the museum
Lavender heating chamber
Lavender heating chamber
Distiller with coils - top view
Distiller with coils – top view

Two families gathered where we were sitting, which suggested that something was soon to happen. Then a person from the Museum came out, and started to talk in French to these two families about the processing of lavender. Though I did not understand what he was saying, the things he was showing them was fairly easy to understand. The heavy top lid was removed to show the contents from the previous lavender processing cycle. The first step was to remove the remnants from the heating chamber and to clean it.

Heating chamber for processing lavender with top lid removed
Heating chamber for processing lavender with top lid removed – child looking into the chamber

Next was to collect the amount of lavender required to fill the heating chamber up fully. This was gathered as a stack in front of the distiller before being placed into the heating chamber. Then the compacting process with someone stepping onto it, to pack as much lavender in as possible.

Lavender gathering for processing
Lavender gathering for processing
Stack of lavender
Stack of lavender
Lavender being placed into the distiller
Lavender being placed into the distiller
Packing in of Lavender
Compacting in the Lavender

The worker from the museum also encouraged the children present to join in with the process; I don’t see this happening in England, due to Health and Safety concerns though.

Children joining in
Children joining in

As some of the lavender seeds would have fallen to the ground, these were also shoveled up and added into the mix for distillation.

Lavender seeds being gathered up
Lavender seeds being gathered up
Lavender seeds - gathered to put into the distiller
Lavender seeds – gathered to put into the distiller

A certain amount of water was piped into the heating chamber, and then the process of heating the lavender can begin.

Closing the top lid
Closing the top lid

There are 2 huge cylinders of gas to provide fuel for the heating process.

Gas fire to extract the essential oils from the Lavender
Gas fire to extract the essential oils from the Lavender

The man from the museum then explained how the lighter lavender oil, which floats atop the water, will be separated away from the water. The oil flows up above and gets collected from the red tap of the separating chamber, while the water flows out from below through the pipe with the yellow tubing into the tub.

Kit to separate the lighter lavender oil from the heavier water
Kit to separate the lighter lavender oil from the heavier water
Container to separate the Lavender oil from the water
Container to separate the Lavender oil from the water
Lavender
Lavender close-up

So while I did not manage to take the tour of the Lavender museum as I had to look after our dog, it was great for me to experience the process of extracting lavender oil while sitting outside the museum under the shade. Definitely a place worth visiting.

Boon