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Welcome to Roussillon
la place de la mairie

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In Provence, set between the Luberon hills and the beautiful Monts de Vaucluse, lies the village of Roussillon, sparkling with ochre colour under the deep blue sky. Roussillon is ranked as one of the most beautiful villages of France, and is totally unique

Roussillon is located in the very heart of the biggest ochre deposits in the world, and is distinguished by a wide palette of flamboyant colours.

Wandering the narrow streets, stairs and squares in Roussillon opens your eyes to the beautiful natural pigments used throughout the village, and the millennium-old knowledge of how to use this generous natural gift. In Roussillon, man has long worked in harmony with nature.

Ochre is everywhere : streaking the hills in the unforgettable countryside and on the walls of the houses which have been washed with the traditional ochre rendering. Ochre is also in the hearts of the people, for whom ochre was the source of work until the middle of the 20th century.

Discover the presence of the ochre sands by following the Ochre Trail – the "Sentier des Ocres" – a path through the ochre lands which has been laid out and marked. The trail takes you amidst the earth pillars and hills carved out by water, wind and the hand of man.
In Roussillon you can also learn about the industrial history of ochre in the area by visiting the Ochre and Colour Conservatory “Conservatoire des ocres et de la couleur” in the former Mathieu factory on the D 104 road, on the way to Apt. This former ochre plant offers tours, classes and information on the use of ochre.

Ochre has been used since prehistoric times, and was mined by the Romans during the era of the Roman settlement of Provence. However, ochre only became a widespread, industrial product in the late 18th century when Roussillon native son Jean-Etienne Astier put forward the idea of washing the ochre-laden sands to extract the pure pigment. Today, though natural ochre faces strong competition from synthetic pigments, it remains unrivalled for use in certain applications.

Visiting the village

An artist’s palette
Roussillon is not a historical site, though it is an old and venerable village. It is not the site of important historical events, though its architecture reflects the memories of centuries past.

It is above all a magical place, where the many different oxides in the ochre sands combine in countless shades. The colours shine through, in the surrounding countryside, in the washes on the old homes, in a trompe l'œil painting on a gate, on a wall.

Roussillon offers countless details to the observant eye, and is well worth an unhurried, leisurely visit.

Place du Pasquier : first a grazing land, then the site of seven annual fairs. It became the schoolyard, then the pharmacy, prior to serving as a car park and as access to the Social and Cultural Centre.

Place de l'Abbé-Avon : also called the "back of the oven", for the baker’s oven was located in the hollowed-out rock here. This small square is named after the Abbot who cared for the people of Roussillon during the plague of 1720. To the left, see the street named “Porte Heureuse”.

Belfry : the ancient entrance way into the fortified protected area called the Castrum. The belfry was renovated in the 19th century as a bell tower adjoining the church. The first street on the left takes you along the former watchman’s walkway, which ran between the two towers on the rampart wall. This explains the name of this area – “Quartier de la Bistourle” (Two Towers). Great view of the village and surrounding area

Place Pignotte :named after the alms which were distributed to the poor here. The alms were little loaves of bread in the shape of a pine cone, and were known as "pinhotte". The practice of distributing these alms was instigated by Pope John XXII in 1316.

Place de la Forge : this may have been the courtyard of the former castle, built in 987. A small crucifixion scene and a few ruins of the castle remain.

Orientation table : the highest point in Roussillon, with a sweeping view from the Luberon to the Monts de Vaucluse.

Saint Michael Church : the church, whose origins of the church go back to the 11th century, originally faced the castle, inside the fortified walls. The church underwent countless renovations over time, necessitated in part by its location by the cliff. Note the 17th century façade, the 18th century choir, and late 18th-century works by Potevin, including the baptismal fonts, statue of Saint Michael, and Christ on the Cross.

Place de la Mairie : This Town Hall square, the lively centre of town, is lined with lovely 18th-century homes.

Place de la Poste : home to an old fountain where livestock were watered.

Fontaine des Naïades : The beautiful Naiad Fountain is located below the village, on the road to Saint-Saturnin

Art in Roussillon

Streets filled with art

The ochre-washed streets in Roussillon are home to many art galleries, sparkling with works by talented artists which draw the eye of art lovers, collectors and passers-by as they visit the village.

The village of Roussillon en Provence currently has fifteen different venues for seeing art, representing over fifty artists. Roussillon, the village of ochres, is also the village of art, renowned throughout the Luberon.