After harvesting grapes in September for the wine industry, late October marks the season for saffron which lasts 3 to 4 weeks.
The hand-harvested and dried pistils of the Crocus Sativus is where saffron comes from. It takes about 200 flowers to produce 1 kilo of saffron. This explains the high cost of the spice.
The Saffron Association of Provence was created in 2006 to relaunch the cultivation of an ancestral product first grown by the Romans in the region. These hardy crocus bulbs can withstand variations in temperature from -15°C to 40°C.
There are now several local producers in Provence. Some sell their saffron on the local markets like Safran du Cativel and others online Couleurs de Provence, L'Or des Trois Rivières, Terra T'Air. You can also sign up for a visit and workshop Safran de Provence located north of Aix en Provence in the Alpes de de Haute Provence.
Dozens of recipes call for saffron including bouillabaisse, Marseille’s signature dish but I recently discovered that the spice is used for medicinal purposes and in aromatherapy.