Walking through the ochre quarries of Provence...
Explore the ochre fields of Provence...
Ochre has been exploited in the Vaucluse since the late 18th century, but it was at the start of the 20th century in particular when production reached its peak, with 36,000 tons of ochre produced in 1930, primarily for export. Ochre is used as a pigment in decoration, fine arts and masonry.
At the gateway to the Luberon, come and wander along the colourful back streets of the village of Roussillon, explore the Provençal Colorado in Rustrel, and discover the old ochre quarries and factories...
The village of Roussillon
Classed among the "Most beautiful villages in France", Roussillon is the second most visited village in the Luberon after Gordes. The village is built at the top of an ochre cliff face, and offers visitors a perfect blend of colours with its stones, roofs and façades mirroring the red tones of the neighbouring landscape...
Find out more : site de l'Office de Tourisme de Roussillon
The Provençal Colorado in Rustrel
Several millions of years ago, after the sea receded, the limestone deposits accumulated were transformed into ochre sand by the effect of torrential rains, resulting in today's other-worldly landscape, reminiscent of the Wild West, with flamboyant colours ranging from yellow to orange, including intense browns and crimson red...
The famous "Provençal Colorado" is the most spectacular ochre site in the region, the ideal place for walks and family photos! Don't forget to bring appropriate clothing for the children!
FInd out more : Site du Colorado Provençal
The Ochre Conservatory, Roussillon
The Mathieu factory is a former ochre production factory, converted into an educational museum. Here you will learn about ochre extraction techniques, sedimentation tanks, the kiln and the mills, and the work of ochre miners... The Ochre Conservatory also offers specialised training and has a very interesting shop (specialist books, bottled colour pigments, etc.)
FInd out more : Site du Conservatoire des Ocres
The Bruoux Mines in Gargas
Explore this 40-km (25-mile) labyrinth of tunnels, which were formerly ochre mines. A 650-metre route (half a mile) awaits you, where you will discover this majestic landscape with its warm orange tones, as well as the underground tunnels mined by hand during the industrial era to extract the colour pigment.
Find out more here: www.minesdebruoux.fr
Les Demoiselles Coiffées in Bédoin
Close to the hamlet of Baux, several miles from the centre of Bédoin, enjoy a lovely country walk through the ochre fields of Provence on the site known as the Demoiselles Coiffées. These small rocky hills were carved out thousands of years ago by wind, rain and erosion after the sea receded from this part of the land. They are also known as the Cheminées des Fées (Fairy Chimneys), since this spot has a mystical quality owing to the fact it has so few visitors.
Long exploited to collect the ochre pigments necessary for painting, this is now a protected site, so be sure to respect the landscape and tread carefully during your visit.
The ochre trail of Mormoiron
Abandoned for several years, this former quarry mined between the late 19th and the 20th century has found a new lease of life as a discovery trail. Along this walk, this yellow-orange trail reveals the old materials needed to extract ochre, cliff-faces, excavations and tunnels, but also beautiful engravings by artists who come to express their talent on the sandy rock.
There is a hiking route for exploring the site: www.visorando.com/randonnee-les-ocres-de-mormoiron