Where to Go For France's Most Spectacular Lavender Fields, Castles, and Mountains

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Sky View Cabins take advantage of vistas of the surrounding Bradshaw Mountains.
Slide 1 of 11: We asked photographer and entrepreneur Mack Knight to share his latest trip to the French countryside with us. It's full of hiking, wildflowers, and stunning sunsets—and a reminder (as if you needed one) that France loves to show off in the summer.
Slide 2 of 11: A 5.30 a.m. wake up call might not sound appealing, but trust me, it's worth it: The lavender blooms of the Plateau De Valensole are at their peak between mid-June and late-July, and sunrise is one of the few times you can enjoy the fields in true solitude, before the Instagramming crowds arrive.
Slide 3 of 11: Take the time to turn off the main roads in Provence and explore some of the small towns that dot the region—like Ansouis, a beautiful provincial town sat on a hilltop. This rose-covered cottage alone is enough to have you contemplating expat life.
Slide 4 of 11: After a few days in Provence, I took a half-day drive to Mercantour National Park, a spectacular mountain region in the Alps. The scenery is nature on steroids: 10,000-foot peaks, massive valleys, and rivers carving their way through green and granite landscape. If you're feeling ambitious, plan an early evening hike or trail-run to Lac d'Allos a well-known lake in the park; you'll have the forested mountain paths and spectacular views all to yourself.
Slide 5 of 11: The trails around Chamonix and the French Alps can only be described as jaw-dropping. But while a system of cable cars can do a good portion of the work for you, you still have to earn your views. I came upon this impressive trail after a steady climb of over 2,300 feet toward Aiguillette des Posettes, a 7,221-foot peak with epic views down the Chamonix valley.
Slide 6 of 11: Few things cap off a gorgeous summer hike like stripping down to your underwear and diving into a freezing glacial lake. It took a couple of wrong turns to find this one after hiking a section of the Tour of Mont Blanc, a famous, multi-day, 110-mile hike, spanning France, Italy, and Switzerland. This particular alpine pool, named Lac Bleu, can be found on a small offshoot trail headed east from Plan de l'Aiguille, around the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps.
Slide 7 of 11: After a leg-burning climb and a half-day hike along a small section of the Tour of Mont Blanc trail, make your way down into the mountain basin, which is filled with wildflowers. Feeling tired? Take a chairlift down to the valley floor like we did.
Slide 8 of 11: One of Europe’s largest regional parks, the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park consists of a cluster of around 80 dormant volcanoes. Take the cable car up to Puy de Sancy, the highest mountain in the park, for an easy (but still breathtaking) 2.5-mile ridge hike.
Slide 9 of 11: After taking in the views from the ridges around the Puy de Sancy summit, follow the 2.5-mile trail down towards the Val de Courre valley. It will just be you and a few lazy cows for company.
Slide 10 of 11: If the lavender fields of Provence weren't enough for you, then add the Loire Valley to your itinerary. Each summer, massive, bright yellow sunflowers bloom in unison, just like in this field west of Tours, near the Loire river. Consider it a photographer’s paradise.
Slide 11 of 11: It might not be the biggest château in the Loire Valley (some have over 400 rooms) but the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau in Azay-le-Rideau is considered to be one of the most beautiful. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was built between 1518 and 1527, and sits on the Indre River. When viewed from the surrounding gardens along the far side of the château, it almost looks as if it's floating.

We asked photographer and entrepreneur Mack Knight to share his latest trip to the French countryside with us. It’s full of hiking, wildflowers, and stunning sunsets—and a reminder (as if you needed one) that France loves to show off in the summer.

Plateau De Valensole, Provence

Ansouis, Provence

Mercantour National Park, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

Chamonix

Plan de l’Aiguille, the Alps

Tour of Mont Blanc

Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park

Val de Courre

The Loire Valley

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau

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