The Lavender Essential-Oil Distillery

The Lavender Essential-Oil Distillery

In the 19th century, fine lavender - Lavandula angustifolia - grew wild on the sunny slopes of the mountains around Digne. The country-folk of Thoard went to pick it every summer in the area of Siron, with a simple sickle and a straw hat. In the years between the two world-wars, the cultivation of fine lavender was at its peak, providing substantial income in disadvantaged agricultural areas. Then, from the 1950s onwards, lavandin, a hybrid lavender replaced fine lavender because of its higher yield. It takes 30kg of lavandin to obtain 1 litre of essence, whereas 100kg to 110kg of fine lavender are needed to obtain the same quantity.

About fifteen hectares of fine lavender are still cultivated in the Municipal District of Thoard.
The distillation is done according to the traditional techniques of using an open-fire still. The dry lavender is placed in a vat with a grilled bottom and heated by burning straw. Steam passes through the lavender, carrying the lavender's essence with it into a swan-neck loop connected to a coil. After cooling, the water and essencial lavender oil end up in the dipenser. It is then easy to recover the essencial-oil that floats to the surface. The distillation process takes about three weeks in August. The essential-oil essence is then sold to the perfumeries of Grasse.



UNESCO Géoparc de Haute-Provence
Musée Promenade
Parc Saint-Benoît BP 30 156


+33(0)4 92 36 70 70


L’UNESCO Géoparc de Haute-Provence est un service de Provence Alpes Agglomération,
administré au travers d’une Entente Intercommunale avec la Communauté de Communes du Sisteronais-Buëch
et financé par la région Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur et le Conseil Départemental de Haute-Provence.

Provence Alpes AgglomérationCommunauté de communes du sisteronnais buëch
Région Sud Provence Alpes Côte d'AzurConseil départemental Alpes de Haute-Provence

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