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Roussillon

Regional Natural Park of Luberon, Vaucluse

43.903056,5.293611
43°54'11"N 5°17'37"E
Published: January 2010
last updated: March 2011
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The visit

Roussillon One of the most beautiful towns of France is another must-see of the Luberon valley. Situated in the heart of the most important deposits of ochre in the world, Roussillon is a town where Ocres every house is a masterpiece of art in red, yellow, orange or purple colour. It is definitely one of the most photogenic sites in Europe. Try to come to Roussillon early in the morning and immediately go to the view point on the east side of the town – you will be rewarded with a dream-like view of the red burg.

Roussillon is a rather small town, so a day’s tour will give you an opportunity to see all its attractions. Walk up to St. Michael’s church (église St. Michel), on your way you will pass by Beffroi - the ancient gate to the castrum. Once fortified heart of the town, the castrum is now a small pile of ruins with a lovely view on the west of Luberon valley. During your walk through the streets of Roussillon, take a look at the windows of art and souvenirs shops that display truly beautiful objects.

On the east of the town you can visit le Sentier des Ocres - a picturesque footpath through old ochre mine, which will offer you a fourty-minute walk through some truly outlandish red landscapes. Just one km from the town don’t miss le Conservatoire des Ochres: in the premises of abandned Mathieu factory you will discover all stages of ochre treatment.

History

Founded in X century, Roussillon remained a calm provincial town for hundreds of years, until in XVIII century local entrepreneur Jean Etienne Astier invested into development of ochre mines around the town. Quite quickly Roussillon became the greatest exporter of ochre and ochre-based colorants in Europe and remained so until XX century when the demand weakened. Later Roussillon became a magnet for the artists and numerous tourists.

Roussillon is also a subject of a sad and romantic legend. According to this legend lady Sirmonda, wife of sir Raymond d’Avignon, the lord of Roussillon, fell in love with one of the vassals of her husband, handsome Guillaume. Despite all precautions sir Raymond learned about his wife’s adultery and invented an awful revenge. He took young Guillaume to the hunt. In the forest Raymond killed his vassal and ordered to cook his heart and serve it to lady Sirmonda. As Sirmonda heard, whose heart she ate for dinner, she ran to the cliffs surrounding Roussillon and threw herself down. Therefore, says the legend, her blood turned surrounding mountains red.

Practical information

LOCATION

Roussillon is situated close to the departmental road D900 crossing Luberon park from east to west (Apt to Avignon).
A small tourist town, Roussillon is not easily accessible by public transportation. There is a bus-line connecting nearby cities Cavaillon, Gordes and Roussillon (see the schedule here: http://www.vaucluse.fr/1119-recherche-de-lignes.htm - line 15.3).

However, you will likely be able to find Roussillon in one of the one-day bus tours proposed by the tourism offices of the cities in Bouches-du-Rhone and Vaucluse (such as Aix-en-Provence and Avignon).

Closest airports : Marseille-Provence, Avignon.

Closest TGV station - Avignon, closest regional railway station - Cavaillon.

Comment on this article

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Streets of Roussillon Ocres The belfry Ocres of Roussillon Ocres of Roussillon Ocres

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Streets of Roussillon Streets of Roussillon Sentier des Ocres View of Roussillon Streets of Roussillon Roussillon - view from the church

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Ocres Streets of Roussillon Roussillon - view from the east Sentier des Ocres

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