Sunflowers in France

The word for sunflowers in France is TOURNESOLS. It’s easy to see where the name comes from since tourner is to turn and sol is for sun. Growing 5 – 12 feet tall the flowers face east when fully grown – although myth has it that their face always the sun. However, young sunflowers do move east to west during the day as they are growing so it is not a total myth.

Thistles and Sunflowers

Thistles and Sunflowers

Wild sunflowers are native to the Americas. Native Americans domesticated the plant and the seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century. So much to my surprise, sunflowers in France have not always been one of their agricultural crops.

Let’s take a closer look at those beautiful, sometimes plate-size, flowers. Each flower head consists of 1000 -2000 individual flower heads. That means up to 2000 seeds per flower. I have consumed so many sunflower seeds in my lifetime it makes me wonder just how many “sunflowers” I have consumed? In addition, I am now wondering how many “flowers” are in every bag of  seeds that you buy?






Sunflowers in France as a crop

sunflowers-21Every part of the flower is useful. There is nothing to waste with a sunflower. While growing they are beautiful to look at and later the leaves can be used as cattle feed.

Seeds (have the shell on) and seed kernels (the part inside the shell) can be eaten or used for cooking and for extracting oil. Like most agricultural crops the fields are rotated. So if you have a special area for viewing these majestic giants keep in mind that they will not be found in the same fields two years in row.

Native Americans ground the seed kernels into flour  and this is still done in Germany for use in breads. If you have a coffee grinder you can grind the kernels yourself to add to pancakes and muffins. Grind your own sunflowers in small food processors but only in short bursts unless you want to create sunflower seed butter! I frequently add whole kernels to whole wheat bread.

Are the kernels good for you? YES! Besides lifting your spirit with their beauty, they contain B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, folic acid and minerals such as phosphorous, iron, and selenium.

Sunflowers in France- images

Do I have a passion for photographing sunflowers? Yes, and I hope you enjoy each of these photos from France.

You will note a difference in color of the sunflowers. Those with the pure lemony yellow color with soft green leaves and rolling hills in the background were in the southern part of Burgundy Region while the others were in the Poitou-Charentes Region. The Poitou-Charentes was particularly hot that year. As a result the sunflowers appeared a bit stressed looking. Yet when we were in the Burgundy Region the year before the weather was cool enough for a light jacket most mornings and evenings so the sunflowers were lush and green!

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<< Back to Poitou-Charentes Region

<< Back to Burgundy Region


7 responses to “Sunflowers in France”

  1. Latosha says:

    My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different web page and thought I might as
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  2. Radjin says:


    When is thebest time to visit a sunflower farm to konw more about these plants and where is the best address.

    We want to visit as soon as possible.

    Thanks and regards,


    • Debbie says:

      Sunflowers bloom July – early August. The farther south you are in France, the earlier in July you will see them in full bloom. In early July the fields were in full bloom in the Poitou-Charentes area when I was there. In the southern Burgundy region around Chalon-sur-Saone they were blooming mid July but in upper Burgundy it was late July before they were in full bloom. Like any other crop, they are rotated on alternating years and weather has an effect on the blooming schedule. In the Burgundy region, drive the D-roads and you will see alternating fields of wheat, sunflowers and vineyards and it is spectacular. In general, get off the main thorough fares and drive through the countryside to see the fields upclose. I do not know of any “farms” that you can visit specifically for seeing the flowers in bloom except for Snowshill in Cotswold England which raises predominantly lavender but also has a sunflower field (August blooms).

  3. A says:

    Are there any sunflower fields near Paris ? 🙂 sorry if it’s already mentioned but I couldn’t see it ! Thank you

    • Debbie says:

      Hi Ashleigh! I wish I could answer this question but after searching the web, I’ve come up empty handed. Depending on your time, I would take the TGV to Dijon (Great place to rent a car, spend the night and explore this town!) and drive a D road south. The D122 parallels the largerD974 so my choice would be the 122. You will be in the midst of vineyards and we’ve often found vines, wheat and sunflowers are in rotating fields. I know this is going to be a game of chance but I promise the views won’t disappoint (even if you don’t find sunflowers) and Dijon is wonderful! I wish I could be more specific about locations.

  4. rvan says:

    am wondering for someone who doesn’t drive, any public transportation to the fields or its impossible ?

    thank you

    • Debbie says:

      I do not know of any specific tours. In the past, we have contacted the tourist information bureau of the town we are planning to visit to ask about day-trips. I think that would be the best place to start. I can help you with the French if you come across a site that does not have an English link.

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