Story Ideas

Stop to smell the lavender

Aromatherapy awaits in Canada’s parcel of Provence.

13 July 2011
by Giancarlo La Giorgia

If you’re passing through Québec’s Eastern Townships region this summer, with the wind off Lake Memphremagog blowing just right, you may find your attention drawn by a distant, but distinct, floral perfume. That spritz of sweet-smelling air is Mother Nature’s way of advertising the Bleu Lavande lavender farm, just past the covered bridge in the rural hamlet of Fitch Bay.

Despite the challenge of long, cold winters, owners Pierre Pellerin and Christine Deschesnes defied conventional wisdom – and conquered their own inexperience – to slowly nurture their dream of planting a bit of Provence on 100 acres of land they purchased near the Québec-Vermont border. After a false start in 2002 (the first winter killed off all but 10,000 plants), Bleu Lavande now boasts over 300,000 true lavender plants under cultivation, all grown without chemicals or pesticides, making it the second-biggest operation of its kind in North America.

A farmstead boutique opened in 2004, and there are now many Bleu Lavande shops across the province, including several in the Montreal area. But even if it’s a bit out of the way, there is a lot more in store for visitors to the original location. You’ll find the brand’s full range of lavender-based products, from lotions, soaps and cleaning products, to lavender cooking ingredients, chocolates and honey, as well as candles, linen water and even potted English and Munstead lavender plants (the latter’s petals are edible).

During warm months, there are also lots of unique activities, including guided tours of the farm and distillery offering insight on lavender oil’s calming effects and antiseptic properties, catered picnics featuring local products, and relaxing open-air massages overlooking the tranquil sea of purple blooms. Each summer, there’s also a three-day Lavender Fair, with cooking workshops, live music, painting exhibitions and more.

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