Hiking the Breathtaking Ochre Trail in Roussillon

The Ochre Trail is located in Roussillon. It has completely different images than those scenes you would see in France elsewhere. The orange cliffs and the stunning orange colour of the trail are just remarkable. Inspired by its beauty, we made a stopover at this place when we spent our holiday in French Pyrenees.

 The background

Ochre is a natural pigment that is in the sandy soil which makes up the cliffs around Roussillon. Iron oxides colour the sands. These natural pigments have been used since prehistoric times. Then in 1780, Jean Etienne Astier from the village of Roussillon discovered that, and he became the first Ochre extractor in France. In the 19th century, the exploitation of mineral deposits became industrial. The mineral landscape reflects the effects of erosion and mining work done by man. Because it is heat and sun resistant, the pigment is used in the making of pebbledash for the Provençal houses.

The Ochre Trail, Roussillon
The Ochre Trail, Roussillon

Hike the Ochre Trail

At the beginning of the trail is a part of the paved walkway. After a few minutes of walk, I walked on the wooden board walkways. I had a lot of steps to climb up and down. The trails themselves are easy to hike. Once I was down the stairs, the scenery is absolutely beautiful. I was rewarded with the bright orange scenes and took a lot of photos. And, I could see different angles of the cliffs and quarries.  Please see more photos published on Instagram.

The cliffs along the trail are surrounded by lovely woodlands, part of the trail is into the woodlands. At the entrance, you can get a leaflet on which the trails are described. The terrain is soft and sandy. It includes hills and stairs. The beautiful orange hue is seen everywhere.

There are two trails, the short one takes around 30 minutes while the long one takes around one hour. It depends on how long you spend time taking photos. In general, it takes less than the official time to complete a loop.

The beginning part of the Ochre Trail, Roussillon
The beginning part of the Ochre Trail, Roussillon

Combine the Ochre Trail with other sightseeing

The Ochre Trail is part of the full-day tour including Avignon, Gordes, Roussillon and Lubéron. The tour departures from Marseille. For the detail of the tour please check here.

Would you like to taste a glass of wine from the appellation Côte du Luberon? Then you can join this Luberon and Roussillon Small-Group Full-Day Tour from Avignon. Other than the Ochre Trail, this tour includes visits to such as the pretty village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, the hilltop village of Gordes, the picturesque Provençal village of Roussillon, the walled village of Ménerbes — made famous by British expatriate Peter Mayle’s popular book, A Year in Provence. This is one of my favourite travel books. Then you will travel back downhill and finish your tour with a glass of wine from the appellation Côte du Luberon. Please click here to check the details and the price.

The boardwalk of hte Ochre Trail, Roussillon
The boardwalk of hte Ochre Trail, Roussillon

The Ochre Mine

The Ochre Mines of Bruoux is one of the most unusual attractions in Luberon’s ochre country, in Gargas, a disused underground quarry converted into an imposing cathedral of colour. Check more details on its website.

The address is Mines of Bruoux, route de Croagnes, 84400 Gargas. Tel: (+33) 4 90 06 22 59.

The Mathieu ochre factory in Roussillon

This was once a factory where the ochre pigment was produced at the height of the Luberon’s ochre boom. Today it’s much more than a heritage site: it’s an art academy, research centre and industrial museum all rolled into one. Check more details on its website.

The address is the Conservatoire des Ocres et de la couleur, Usine Mathieu, 84220 Roussillon. Tel: (+33) 4 90 05 66 69

The Ochre terrain, Roussillon
The Ochre terrain, Roussillon

Where to stay

Roussillon is the top destination in southern France. There is no lack of hotels in the area. One hotel I could recommend is the Le Mas de Roussillon. The Ochre Trail is 3.5 km from the accommodation. If you would like to discover the area, cycling is possible nearby and Le Mas de Roussillon can arrange a bicycle rental service. The hotel offers a continental breakfast with free WiFi and free bikes. An outdoor pool is also on the hotel premise. More hotels can be found on the following platforms.

How to get there

The Ochre Trail, or Le Sentier des Ocres, is located in Roussillon, France. Roussillon is approximately a one hour and twenty-minute drive from Aix-en-Provence and a one hour drive from Avignon. Roussillon is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. A visit to the Ochre Trail can be combined with a stroll through the village.

If you’re driving, look out for the Parking des Ocres. It’s right by the entrance to the Trail. And, before you go in, check out the nice view across to the village from the parking area.

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