Colorful Roadside Attractions: France's Endless Fields of Sunflowers

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France’s soil provides her farmers the chance to grow almost any crop, from wheat to her famous varietals. Yet, our two favorites are the lavender and sunflowers because the undulating hills of soft greens turn into endless fields of electric purples and golds.

Whereas French lavender is grown almost exclusively in the south, sunflowers blanket roadsides throughout the country. Our family drove through the Loire Valley in early August passing by millions of these flowers that usually grow taller than NBA centers. We were surprised to learn that they aren’t native to Europe but were first cultivated by the Native Americans. Seeds were then brought to France during the 16th century and have been blooming here ever since.

The direct translation of tournesol, the French word for sunflower, is turn sun. While these plants do track the sun when they’re young, mature flowers only face east. Nonetheless, we like to think that this photo shows them all turning and in a sense waving as we pass by.