The Lavender Museum

The philosophy of an exceptional place dedicated to true lavender in France

Heritage and the Adventure of the Future

The Lavender Museum is in Coustellet, France, in the heart of the Luberon Regional Natural Park. The museum is entirely dedicated to true lavender. Since 1991, it has been hosting visitors from the world over. The Lavender Museum tells the story of the crop of true lavender, its history, its challenges, and its future. It describes the properties and qualities of true lavender. Georges Lincelé founded the Lavender Museum to shine the light on the significance and beauty of true lavender, the symbol of Provence. The museum started as an extension of the lavender farm and is housed in a traditional Luberon farmhouse, where no detail is overlooked. Our museum welcomes 50,000 visitors each year from all over the world. The museum continues to evolve and features innovations and improvements each new year. Travel to the heart of the universe of true lavender, and enjoy a lively, instructive and fun journey, with films, unique collections, and interactive events…

Reception
Two documentaries tell the story of the farm work involved in growing lavender – cutting, distillation and planting true lavender.

We easy-to-use audio-guides in 10 languages, for an easy visit at your own pace… Listen and see the botanical aspects, the history, the tradition and the agriculture of true lavender. Our professional, friendly staff is also at your service, on hand to explain and show the difference between true lavender and lavandine.

Visitors are comfortable in our spacious, 64-seat screening room, where you can see the mechanical cutting done by the Clier tractors (Clier is the name of the tractor makers, located in Malaucène), the harvesting and the distillation of true lavender done at “Le Château du Bois” lavender estate, located in the village of Lagarde d’Apt at 1100 meters altitude. Le Château du Bois is the family estate of the Lincelé family. The film lasts 10 minutes.

The Lavender Museum also shows a special documentary on planting true lavender, in HD. Indeed, each year in March, the Lincelé family goes to its lavender nursery and takes approximately 170,000 seedlings to renew 10 hectares of its lavender fields. It takes about 17,000 seedlings of true lavender to plant one hectare. The Lincelé family grows 80 hectares of lavender. This film lasts for 4 minutes. These two documentaries help visitors understand lavender-growing and show the preserved setting in which our lavenders are grown.

The Collections

Distillation Stills

Georges Lincelé patiently put together the collection of stills over a period of 20 years. His search for old stills focused primarily on the region renowned for the production of true lavender – Vaucluse, the Alpes de Haute-Provence, the Hautes-Alpes, Drôme. Come discover the biggest collection of lavender-distilling stills made of copper, from the 16th century to the present time, and learn about the 3 different distilling techniques. See below ingenious and unusual objects lavender growers devised as part of their daily work.

Pot Still

old potPot stills were the oldest type of distillation. The oldest stills on display at the Museum date from between 1626 and 1670. They come from the area around Lambruisse (04). We also have tilting pot stills, like the one from the village of Allons (04) which was used by the whole village. All these stills are made of copper. They were made by hand and are unique, one-of-a-kind objects. At the time, women and children went into the hills and cut the lavender by hand using a scythe. Men were in charge of distilling the cut lavender. There were no lavender crops – cultivated lavender only appeared in the early 1900s.

Double-boiler still

old pots blackThis was a significant development that occurred in the 1920s. Thanks to the use of a pressure gauge, distillation took place with constant pressure and temperature. The quality of the essential oil was improved, and distillation time was faster – less than one hour as opposed to two hours. These stills were made industrially by two manufacturers: Prince from Marseille and Eysseric from Nyons. The small still here at the Museum dates from 1941 and has a capacity of 80 kilograms of flowers. The larger still dates from 1944 and has a capacity of 250 kg of flowers. Some of these stills continue to operate today, however, their capacity remains low.

Steam still

Steam stillThese stills also have a pressure gauge, and they also have a boiler that uses a lavender straw (this recycles the distilled lavender), wood or coal. This boiler distills several vessels of flowers one after the other. The oldest we have dates from the early 1900s and comes from St André Les Alpes (04). It was designed by a man from the mountains who had ordered a special boiler from the Chappée AU Mans factory (72). The second one was traveling still, and dates from 1925. It was made by Girod-Cellier in Aix-les-Bains.

Old flasks Perfume bottles

Old flasks Perfume bottlesThis collection of perfume bottles, some of which go back to the 16th century, shows us that colored glass was used very early on to protect essential oils from light. Light oxidizes essential oils. Like any good-quality product, the authentic essential oil is costly. If you find inexpensive essential oil be on your guard — it could well be not the real thing.

Period labels - Perfume bottles

Period labels Perfume bottlesAs you look at this collection of labels, you will notice that most of the addresses are located in the city of Grasse, in the Alpes-Maritimes. Grasse was famous for its perfume industry, which arose due to the abundance of local resources such as jasmine, roses, tuberose and lavender, and related expertise with flowers. The city of Grasse became the perfume capital of the world. These labels also mention “Lavande des Alpes” – lavender from the Alps, and the names of towns known for their lavender. The origin of the lavender is indeed very important – for the olfactive quality of the lavender depends on its origin. In the past, the top priority was quality and not money. Fortunately today, the concern for quality is once again proving its importance.