CENSO Lavande

Filière des huiles essentielles françaises de lavande et lavandin

CENSO Lavande

An essential sector

The territory: activity areas and economic territorial position

Production areas

Photo : S. Lipp/CIHEF

Photo : S. Lipp/CIHEF


The South-East of France (Alpes de Haute-Provence, Vaucluse, Drôme) has 95 % of the 15 000 ha of lavandin. The main production area is the Plateau de Valensole: this represents over a third of the surface areas, but also more than half the volumes produced. The operation of the farms in this area is based on the durum wheat/lavandin crop combination. Lavandin is the foundation of the economy in this area.

The listed surface areas in the vallée du Rhône represent 20 % of the total surface areas in lavandin.

However, in this sector, a number of other productions are carried out (winegrowing, fruit and vegetable growing, truffle-growing, etc), and from an economic point of view Lavandin only occupies a secondary place.

The other production areas (including the Baronnies, the Banon area, the Sault plateau) are characterized by farms which balance breeding activities with lavender and lavandin growing. The cereals in the area are not very competitive.


  • Haute-Provence lavender has an official sign of quality, the AOC, created in 1981 and since renamed AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée). The production specifications identify a specific area and production method. Precise quality objectives are defined and controlled for essential oil. Click here to find out more.

Lavender is grown on approximately 4 000 ha in the same departments as lavandin. Despite the fact that up to 2005, the surface areas developed considerably, they have tended to decrease since, due to the effect of successive droughts and also the withering phenomenon caused by phytoplasma.

The Vaucluse has the biggest surface areas of popular lavender. This French specificity has a tendency to disappear and be replaced by clonal lavenders which are implanted mainly in the Alpes de Haute-Provence.

This production makes it possible to enhance the poor, stony soils of the dry Mediterranean mountain areas on which other crops would have difficulty developing due to the altitude and the arid climate. Lavender actually contributes towards maintaining an economic activity in rural mountain areas which play a crucial role in regional planning.

Location on the map

Location of the main French lavender and lavandin production areas

Location of the main French lavender and lavandin production areas

(Source : FranceAgriMer)

(Source : FranceAgriMer)

A sector which unites the territory’s living force

Lavender and lavandin productions contribute towards maintaining 2000 farmers on a large part of the Provencal territory. Several essential oil traders have set up firms in the production areas or nearby, which has boosted local employment.

Industrial Provencal firms use the image of lavender as the symbol of Provence for the marketing of their products. They also highlight the quality of the raw material.

In a survey carried out in 2006 for the PACA region, ONIPPAM (Office National Interprofessionnel des Plantes à Parfum, Aromatiques et Médicinales) estimated the jobs induced by the production of perfume and aromatic plants from the South-East of France at approximately 30 000 FTE (full-time equivalents), including ¾ for lavender alone. These data cover the activity linked to tourism, lavender bringing a considerable contribution to the touristic notoriety of the areas where it is produced.

Important territorial stakes

The works carried out by ONIPPAM in relationship with the Faculté des Sciences Economiques de Marseille, show that the productions of lavender and lavandin represent an important advantage for the PACA region and the Drôme, and a considerable one for the back-country. The following are a few of the conclusions of this study:

Photo : L. Carte/FranceAgriMer

Photo : L. Carte/FranceAgriMer

  • Lavender is the image of Provence and more specifically its tourism’s loss leader. A survey of a sample of 900 people shows that nearly 75% of the people questioned choose lavender almost as much as the sun for identifying Provence, way ahead of the olive tree and well in front of other agricultural productions. The image of lavender is present in 75 % of the postcards sold in the towns and villages surveyed, and is also used by firms which have little relationship with farming in order to identify Provence. Several dynamic firms such as l’Occitane use lavender as a brand image
  • The directly or indirectly induced turnover for the perfume or aromatic plants sector, in the farming, industrial and service sectors exceeds several billion euros, lavender representing an important share. This production is actually the foundation of a number of economic activities: agricultural with lavender honey (around 15 to 20 million euros in the region), industrial or artisanal with perfumery and cosmetics mainly (several hundreds of million euros), touristic and cultural (nearly 2 billion euros).

the participation of

France AgriMer

Comité Interprofessionnel des Huiles Essentielles Françaises

Les Quintrands - Route de Volx 04100 Manosque, France
Tél. : +334 92 87 38 09

Réalisation : Stratis

Comité Interprofessionnel des Huiles Essentielles Françaises
Les Quintrands - Route de Volx 04100 Manosque
Tél. : 04 92 87 38 09