Roussillon Provence

Roussillon, Provence: the Land of Ochre

Welcome to the vibrant and picturesque region of Roussillon, Provence, known for its stunning landscapes and soil rich in ochre deposits. 

Nestled in the heart of the Luberon Regional Park, Roussillon is renowned for its unique and enchanting ochre cliffs, which boast a kaleidoscope of warm red, yellow, and orange hues. 

This charming village has long been a source of inspiration for artists and nature lovers alike, with its cobbled streets, ancient buildings, and delightful cafes and boutiques. 

Roussillon is a great place for a day trip from Aix-en-Provence, Marseille or Avignon.

Roussillon Provence ochre-color rocks, trees on top of hill, people on path
The Sentier des Ocres trail in Roussillon, Provence

Visitors to Roussillon can explore the striking ochre quarries, stroll through the fragrant lavender fields, or simply soak up the beauty and tranquility of this idyllic corner of France. 

With its rich palette of colors, flavors, and experiences, Roussillon is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic taste of Provence’s natural and cultural treasures. 

So come along and discover the Land of Ochre – a place where beauty, history, and nature converge to create a truly unforgettable experience.

The Unique Landscape of Roussillon

The ochre cliffs of Roussillon, Provence are undoubtedly one of the most striking natural wonders of Provence. 

These cliffs are the result of millions of years of geological activity, which has created a rich and varied landscape of hills, valleys, and plateaus. 

The ochre itself is a type of clay that is rich in iron oxides, giving it its distinctive red, yellow, and orange colors. 

red and yellow ochre cliffs in Roussillon Provence France
The typical ochre-colored cliffs of Roussillon, Provence, France

The cliffs of Roussillon are particularly unique because of the way the ochre layers have been exposed by erosion, creating a patchwork effect of different colors and textures. 

This stunning landscape is a testament to the power of nature and a true wonder to behold.

The ochre cliffs of Roussillon also provide a habitat for a variety of flora and fauna. 

The dry, rocky soil is perfect for Mediterranean plants such as lavender, thyme, and rosemary, which are characteristic of the region’s cuisine and perfumes. 

The cliffs are also home to a variety of birds, including the Bonelli’s eagle which can be spotted soaring high above the landscape. 

For nature lovers, the ochre cliffs of Roussillon offer a unique opportunity to explore an ecosystem that is both fragile and vibrant.

In addition to the ochre cliffs themselves, Roussillon is surrounded by a network of trails and paths that allow visitors to explore the surrounding countryside. 

Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll through the lavender fields or a more challenging hike through the hills, there is something for everyone in Roussillon’s natural landscape.

The History of Ochre Mining in Roussillon

The history of ochre mining in Roussillon, Provence dates back to prehistoric times, when the clay was first extracted for use as a pigment in painting and dyeing. 

Over the centuries, the demand for ochre grew, and the mining industry in Roussillon flourished. 

By the 19th century, Roussillon was one of the more important producers of ochre in Europe, with over 20 quarries in operation.

The process of ochre mining was labor-intensive and dangerous. Workers would extract the clay from the hillsides using pickaxes and shovels, then transport it to the surface using bucket elevators and carts. 

The ochre was then washed, dried, and processed into various grades for use in different industries. 

people exploring the ochre cliff path in Roussillon, Provence
The stunning landscapes of Roussillon, Provence

The ochre industry in Roussillon provided employment for many local people and was a significant source of wealth for the region.

Today, the ochre quarries of Roussillon are no longer in operation, but their legacy lives on in the village’s cultural heritage. 

Many of the old quarries have been preserved and transformed into tourist attractions, allowing visitors to explore the history of ochre mining in Roussillon up close.

The Cultural Significance of Ochre in Roussillon

Ochre has played a significant role in the cultural and artistic history of Roussillon, Provence. 

The warm, earthy tones of the clay have long been a source of inspiration for painters, who have used it to create rich and textured works of art. 

rugged ochre-colored cliffs of Roussillon Provence
The rugged cliffs of Roussillon, Provence

In addition to its artistic significance, ochre has also played an important role in the cultural traditions of Roussillon. The clay was used by the village’s inhabitants to create pigments for dyeing fabrics, which were then used to make traditional Provençal clothing. 

Ochre was also used as a preservative for food, as well as a natural sunscreen and insect repellent.

Today, the cultural significance of ochre in Roussillon is celebrated in various ways. The Conservatoire des Ocres, located in the village, is a museum dedicated to the history and use of ochre in art and industry. 

The museum features exhibits on the history of ochre mining in Roussillon, as well as displays of paintings and other works of art created using the local clay. 

Visitors can also participate in workshops and demonstrations on the use of ochre in painting and dyeing.

Things to Do in Roussillon, Provence

Exploring the ochre trails is one of the most popular activities for visitors to Roussillon. 

There are several trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels that allow visitors to explore the ochre cliffs and surrounding countryside. 

The Sentier des Ocres, or Ochre Trail, is the most famous of these trails and takes visitors on a 30-minute walk through the heart of the ochre quarries. 

The trail is marked by signs explaining the history and geology of the area, making it an educational as well as a scenic experience.

It is a good idea to visit the Conservatoire des Ocres in the village of Roussillon in order to learn more about ochre and its history and significance.

For those interested in history, the village of Roussillon itself is a treasure trove of ancient buildings and cultural artifacts. 

The Saint-Michel church is a local attraction. You can admire the church’s 17th century facade. 

The town of Roussillon is filled with very cute and colorful houses which make for the most memorable photos.

ochre-colored house in Roussillon, Provence
A spectacular ochre-colored house in Roussillon, Provence

And don’t miss out on the many art galleries throughout the village.

And lastly, do not forget to grab a souvenir from the region.

Local Cuisine and Wine in Roussillon

The cuisine of Roussillon is a reflection of the region’s natural bounty and cultural heritage. 

The village is known for its use of fresh, local ingredients, such as olive oil, garlic, and herbs, which are used to create flavorful and aromatic dishes. 

If you eat anywhere, Restaurant David is one of the best places to try local cuisine. Elegant and highly-rated, you do not want to miss it.

Another great place to eat at is Le P’tit Gourmand where dishes not only taste great but also look like works of art.

Provençal cuisine is also known for its wine, particularly the rosé wines produced in the region. 

The vineyards of Roussillon produce a variety of wines, from light and refreshing rosés to full-bodied reds and whites. 

Make sure you ask your server or sommelier to suggest a good pairing of a local wine with your meal.

people sit at an outdoor patio in a restaurant in front of colorful ochre houses in Roussillon, Provence
Try one of the local restaurants in Roussillon

Visitors to the region can take part in wine tastings and tours, which allow them to sample the local wines and learn about the region’s wine-making traditions.

Accommodations in Roussillon

Roussillon offers a variety of accommodations to suit every budget and taste. 

The village itself has several small hotels and bed and breakfasts, which offer cozy and comfortable accommodations in the heart of the village. 

For those who prefer more space and privacy, there are also a variety of vacation rentals available, from small apartments to large villas with private pools.

For those who prefer to stay in the countryside, there are also several farmhouses and gites, or holiday cottages, available for rent. 

These accommodations offer a more rustic and authentic experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and tranquility of the surrounding countryside.

How to Get to Roussillon

Roussillon is located in the heart of the Luberon Regional Park, in the southeastern part of France. 

The closest airport is Marseille Provence Airport, which is approximately 80 kilometers from Roussillon. 

From the airport, visitors can rent a car or take a taxi or an Uber to reach the village.

Visitors can also reach Roussillon by train, with the closest train station located in the nearby town of Cavaillon. 

From there, visitors can take a bus or taxi to reach Roussillon.

Practical Tips for Visiting Roussillon

What to wear when visiting Roussillon?

Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, as there is a lot of walking involved in exploring the ochre trails and village.

What to bring for a visit to Roussillon?

I suggest you bring a sun hat, some sunblock and a bottle of water, especially during hotter months.

When is the best time to visit Roussillon?

Visit the village early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

How much does it cost to visit the Sentier des Ocres?

Access to the Sentier des Ocres is very affordable at €3.50 per person.

Groups of 15 people or more get a discount. Disabled people and children under 10 years of age, as well as drivers and guides of large groups can enter for free.

Where to park near the Sentier des Ocres?

There are several paid parking lots right by the entrance to the Sentier. 

Parking at all paid lots is very reasonable at €4 per day.

There is a free parking lot but it is 2.5 kms away from the ochre path.

Is the Sentier des Ocres trail open year round?

No, the trail is open ten months out of the year. It is closed for maintenance during the months of January and February.

bright red rocks in Roussillon Provence
Typical red cliffs of Roussillon

What are the opening hours of the Ochre path?

The opening hours of the trail vary from month to month. June, July and August the trail opens up as early as 9 AM. But other months it can be as late as 11 AM.

In the summer months, the trail closes usually by 7 PM but earlier during the spring and fall months and much earlier in November and December.

If you arrive between 11 AM and 4 PM any month but January and February, the trail should be open. However, on occasion the trail may close due to bad weather.

Are dogs allowed on the Sentier des Ocres trail?

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

How to pronounce Roussillon?

This is how you pronounce Roussillon: 


Roussillon, Provence, is one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is a truly unique and enchanting destination that offers visitors a rich palette of colors, flavors, and experiences. 

From the stunning ochre cliffs to the fragrant lavender fields and delicious local cuisine, Roussillon is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic taste of Provence’s natural and cultural treasures. 

So come along and discover the Land of Ochre – a place where beauty, history, and nature converge to create a truly unforgettable experience.


Where is Roussillon located?

Roussillon is located in the Luberon region, north of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.

What is the best way to travel to Roussillon from Aix-en-Provence?

The easiest way to get to Roussillon from Aix-en-Provence is by car. But you can also book a tour with a driver. Or you can take a taxi or an Uber. 

How long is the drive from Marseille to Roussillon? 

The drive from Marseille to Roussillon is about one and a half hours.

How long is the drive from Aix-en-Provence to Roussillon? 

The drive from Aix-en-Provence to Roussillon is about one hour.

How long is the drive from Avignon to Roussillon?

The drive from Avignon to Roussillon is about one hour.

Is the Sentier des Ocres trail in Roussillon accessible by wheelchair? 

The Sentier des Ocres is not suitable for people on wheelchairs and therefore access for people on wheelchairs is free of charge. People in wheelchairs can admire the panoramic view of the trail and the beautiful rock formations.

Is the Sentier des Ocres trail in Roussillon accessible for strollers? 

The Sentier des Ocres is not suitable for strollers. People with children in strollers can admire the panoramic view of the trail and the beautiful rock formations from a 50-meter landscaped area at the beginning of the trail.

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