© CRT COTE D'AZUR FRANCE/Camille MOIRENC

THE EMBLEMATIC VIOLETS OF TOURRETTES

Tourrettes-sur-Loup owes its fame to the violet, which became the main crop on its land as of the 1880s. The development of the perfume industry in Grasse in the 19th century was a real opportunity for the people of Tourrettes.

THE VIOLET, A HISTORIC ACTIVITY

The viola odorata is grown for its olfactory and gustatory properties, which serve for making perfumes and confectionary, respectively.

The people of Tourrettes first grew the Parma violet, also produced in Toulouse. Then, the Victoria variety was progressively imposed, to become the main flower grown in the village.

The Tourrettes violet grows from October to March on small, terraced plots. Its cultivation has always been based on manual labour, demanding good physical abilities.

Horticulturists use it to create the bouquets sold between Christmas and Valentine’s Day. It also symbolizes shyness and secret love.

In addition, it serves to create confectionary and derived products. Chefs use the violet in cuisine to create dishes and desserts. The leaves are also harvested outside the flowering period for the perfume industry.

Tourrettes remains the only place in France where violet production is the main, or even the sole activity of horticulturists.  The fame of the Tourrettes violet grew over the years and continues to be spoken of around the world.

Every year since 1952, a festival is held in its honour. On 6 March 2010, the town also inaugurated the Bastide aux Violettes, a living museum devoted to this flower and to the know-how of the producers.

VIOLET CULTIVATION TODAY

In the face of globalized competition, the violet production in Tourrettes has had to develop in order to endure. Producers have therefore made the choice to give preference to the quality of their product.

Violets are grown organically and in a reasoned manner, with a view to protecting the environment, but also to offer an excellent product. The violet fields are areas conducive to biodiversity.

Practices are also changing and giving way to innovations. New above-ground growing techniques in particular have made an appearance.

Harvesting is carried out daily over the winter and growers often call on seasonal workers to pick the violets by hand. This work requires a certain degree of experience to be able to select the right flowers quickly and without damaging them.

BOUQUETS, CONFECTIONARY & PERFUMES

The bouquets are made at the end of the day. Each bouquet comprises approximately 25 flowers, surrounded by a corolla of leaves and scrupulously bound. The production of 100 bouquets per hour is a good working rhythm.

The flowers can also serve for confectionary. The Coche family farm in particular has developed a violet crystallization process by coating it in sugar and drying the flower in an oven. The violets are cleaned and worked on straight after picking.

Confiserie Florian has a different manufacturing process for a similar result. Between the start of May and the end of July, the leaves are harvested and delivered to Grasse the same day. There, they are processed to become a component in major perfumes.

THE VIOLET FESTIVAL, A DATE NOT TO BE MISSED

Every year, the violet festival takes place during the first weekend in March and announces the end of the season for the growers. It was created in 1952 by Victor Linton, an artist and goldsmith of Scottish origin residing in Tourrettes-sur-Loup. In 2022, the famous festival celebrated its 70th anniversary.

Linton, who succumbed to the charms of the village, wished to shine a spotlight on the producers and their know-how with a festival. During the first edition, bicycles, pushchairs and donkeys were transformed into flower-bedecked mounts that the children joyfully rode. On Place de la Libération, stalls of local produce rubbed shoulders with those of craftsmen and women.

Over time, the violet festival became a veritable institution, attracting both people from the Alpes-Maritimes and tourists from all four corners of the globe. The festival has seen particular success among Italians, who come in great numbers to join in the festivities. The bicycles have given way to imposing floats covered entirely with flowers. Every edition brings together thousands of spectators.

THE VIOLETS OF TOURRETTES
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