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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As some of the lavender seeds would have fallen to the ground, these were also shoveled up and added into the mix for distillation.
A certain amount of water was piped into the heating chamber, and then the process of heating the lavender can begin.
There are 2 huge cylinders of gas to provide fuel for the heating process.
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.
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.