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Associated with all things rich, opulent, and fragrant—think crushed velvet, full-bodied wines, and lavender in bloom—purple is a color that’s long been associated with wealth and royalty. In ancient times, combining red and blue dyes to make the color was an expensive and arduous process, so a hint of violet indicated money and status. Discover a global variety of purple sights and smells with this guide, which covers every shade from mauve and mulberry to pansy and pizazz.
Between June and August, the meadows of France’s Provence region explode into dusky purple hues, the delicate fragrance of which has been used to calm and relax for centuries. The best parts of the region to witness the spectacle are Sault, a medieval village that’s home to a 3-mile (5-kilometer) lavender trail; the hilltop villages of the Luberon Valley, where lavender fields are scattered throughout vineyards and olive groves; and the Valensole Plateau, whose famous fields are framed by sunflowers for picture-perfect scenes.
Tucked among the forested hills of Kitakyushu near the southern tip of Japan, Kawachi Fuji Garden is famous for its two 330-foot (100-meter) wisteria tree tunnels. The purple and white flowers from the trees—some of which are almost 100 years old—droop down through the tunnel ceiling to create a seriously photogenic effect. The blooms are at their most vibrant between April and early May, when the garden is at its busiest—you’ll need to make a reservation in advance.
Near the small Mauritian village of Chamarel, the Seven Colored Earth Geopark is a rolling stretch of sand dunes that looks more like an ice cream sundae than it does a geological formation. Though the predominant color is purple, you’ll also see swirls of mauve, pink, and peach, which were formed thanks to some rare volcanic activity on the island. Discover the dunes with ease on a sightseeing tour that also visits the Chamarel Waterfall and the Troux aux Cerfs volcano.
Boasting both plum-colored sand and striking natural arches, Pfeiffer Beach is a stretch of California coastline with a difference. This secluded spot is lapped by the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and is dubbed the “Mini Yosemite” by locals thanks to its unique rock formations. Stop at the beach as part of a Big Sur road trip—letting someone else drive lets you keep your eyes on the scenery rather than the road.
Glittering gloriously on New Zealand’s South Island, the mountain-backed Lake Tekapo is a mecca for stargazers, given that it's home to the UNESCO-listed Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. But constellations aren’t the only bright and beautiful thing here—from November through February, the lakeshore lupins burst into bloom and carpet the banks in gorgeous hues of purple and pink. According to legend, the lupins are the work of a farmer’s wife who felt the landscapes could do with an injection of color.
The United Kingdom is home to almost 50 percent of the world’s bluebells, so there are few better places to see the delicate flowers in bloom than the woodlands of England. The purple plants are at their most beautiful during April and May, and the best places to see them include Sheffield Park in East Sussex, the historic Enys Gardens in Cornwall, and Hole Park Gardens in Kent.
Carved and colored by millions of years of water and wind, this picture-perfect canyon was named after the antelope that used to roam the landscapes around it. Purple is one of the many colors you can see on a hiking tour of Antelope Canyon, which is only accessible to the public with a guide from the Navajo Nation. Sunlight makes for the best photographs of the canyon, so plan to explore it in the afternoon from October through March for the best pictures.
What looks like it's straight from a scene from the movie Avatar, Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay give nature a technological spin. Along with a giant indoor waterfall and conservatories filled with exotic flora from across the globe, the gardens are home to the Supertrees, vertical gardens fitted with solar panels and a rainwater collection system. Every night after the sun sets, these giant structures glow purple during a music-and-light extravaganza known as Garden Rhapsody.