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.
Information about the Ochre
Ochre is a natural pigment that is in the sandy soil, which makes up the cliffs around Roussillon. These natural pigments have been the construction material since prehistoric times.
Then in 1780, Jean Etienne Astier from the village of Roussillon discovered the natural resource and 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 human beings. Because it is heat and sun resistant, the pigment is part of pebbledash for the outside walls of Provençal houses.
Hike the Ochre Trail
At the beginning of the trail is a part of the paved walkway. After a few minutes of walk, I could walk on the wooden board walkways. There are a lot of steps to climb up and down. Once I was down the stairs, I saw the beautiful scenery on the surrounding cliffs. The bright orange scenes are the best for the photographers. And, I could see the cliffs and quarries from different angles.
The cliffs along the trail are surrounded by lovely woodlands. Part of the hiking trail goes into the woodlands. At the entrance, you can get a leaflet with a description of the hiking trails. The terrain is soft and sandy. The beautiful orange hue is seen everywhere.
There are two trails, the short one takes around 30 minutes, while the long one takes about one hour. In general, it takes less than the official time to complete a loop. All hiking trails are at the light and middle levels.
Combine the Ochre Trail with other sightseeing
From Avignon, you can join a hilltop village tour to explore the pretty village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Gordes, the picturesque Provençal village of Roussillon, the Ochre Trail, the walled village of Ménerbes, a place made famous by one of my favorite travel books, A Year in Provence. Then you will travel back downhill and finish your tour with a glass of wine from the appellation Côte du Luberon.
The Ochre Mine and Mathieu ochre factory in Roussillon
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.
Mathieu ochre factory in Roussillon
The factory once produced the ochre pigment during the heydays of Luberon’s ochre boom. Today it’s much more than a heritage site. It’s an art academy, research centre, and industrial museum. Check more details on its website.
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 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, free WiFi, and free bikes. An outdoor pool is also on the hotel premises.
How to get there
Roussillon is approximately a one hour and twenty-minute drive from Aix-en-Provence and a one hour drive from Avignon. The Ochre Trail is at the opposite of the Roussillon village. You can visit the Ochre Trail and the Roussillon village in one day.
When you approach to Roussillon, look out for the Parking des Ocres. It’s right at the entrance to the Ochre Trail. And, before you start hiking, check out the view over the Roussillon village from the parking area.