On the road towards Roussillon, you’ll notice right away what makes this town different from the others in the region surrounding the Luberon, in southeastern France.
After you park your car, you’ll wander in a series of cute narrow streets which distinguishing feature is the red tone of their walls.
In fact, Roussillon has been famous since the 18th century for its ochre quarries. They were mined for many years as the demand rose from the textile industry, but this activity has now stopped and has been replaced by tourism. Ochre is a natural pigment which colours can range from yellow and orange to brown, and you can find a large quantity of it in the clay surrounding Roussillon.
As a consequence, all the buildings and houses, built on top of an ochre ridge, have this specific reddish and orange hue. From up there you also have an amazing view of the surrounding countryside and ochre “cliffs”, where you can see all the different colours that this specific pigment can have.
To discover this incredible geological feature, it is possible to follow the “Sentier des Ocres”, a 30- to 60-minute walk in the old ochre quarries, that starts from the south-eastern part of the town. It is quite cheap and allows you to get a lot of information on this pigment, offering at the same time a scenic walk surrounded by warm, orangey tones.
I went there with some friends of mine, after a refreshing stop in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, and we loved walking around, taking pictures of all the cute streets and doors, stopping in front of cute shops. The hill-top location of the town offers amazing viewpoints and the surrounding greenery goes perfectly well with the reddish colours of the ground.
We didn’t follow the Ochre Path as it was incredibly hot and we had been wandering about all day, but I went there a few years ago and really recommend it.
This town has something incredible about it and unlike anything else, a sort of welcoming atmosphere that comes from warm tones and small towns.
Have you ever been to Roussillon? And to the South of France?
Other pretty towns in the South of France: