Roussillon, France: The Picture Perfect Red Ochre Village
Hot off the press from Roussillon, France
A small village swathed in warm shades of red beckons visitors to the southeast region of France. Set atop hilly topography, the village of Roussillon, France is known for its abundant supply of ochre. Additionally, it is known for its brilliant shocks of red, yellow, and gold that permeate the landscape. The commanding pine trees growing up and around the village provide an impressive contrast of red and green, and furthermore make the perfect backdrop for photo opportunities. Roussillon, France is a fantastic stop on your travels through the southeastern countryside. Plus, you can see and walk most of the village in a day! Or comparatively, stay longer to hike the surrounding terra cotta trails.
Ochre | Colorful, Naturally
Roussillon, France sits on one of the world’s largest supplies of ochre, which gives the village its rich color. Ochre is a pigment naturally found in the earth. It’s spectrum of color ranges from pale yellow to vibrant red, and seems to encompass every hue of a summer sunset. In essence, Roussillon is synonymous with ochre. Ochre is everywhere! Even the houses of Roussillon are treated with an ochre coating, uniquely producing a mottled clay effect on the stone facades.
Ochre is everywhere!
If you wander down one of the winding alleys of Roussillon, France you will be treated to a number of visual delights! As can be seen, ornate and colorful doors open into historic homes. Potted flowers grace door steps and quaint cafes display mouthwatering pastries. As I leisurely walked through the village, I felt so peaceful and happy. This was because the spectrum of colors splashed across the dwellings was so bright and cheerful, it brought a smile to my face.
Although the village does not boast many historical sites to visit, hiking trails are bountiful! If you only have time for one hike while in Roussillon, France opt for the Ochre Trail. The Ochre Trail, or “Sentier des Ochre” cuts through the heart of the ochre landscape. A marked path leads you through pillars carved by the elements and man. There are two trails to choose from: 30 or 60 minutes. Both are illustrated with markers to highlight the flora and geology of the area. If you bring your children, keep in mind there is a fine associated with removing any of the ochre tinted rocks or sand.
Participating in a historical class at the Ochre Conservatory, is an interesting way to spend the day. Here, you will learn about the science behind the pigment, and the economic influence it had on Roussillon, France. In fact, the conservatory was formerly operated by a Ochre miner and Mayor of Roussillon. Art classes are offered, and educate you on the use of natural pigment as a medium.
Despite its tiny size, Roussillon, France is home to many artists. There are approximately 15 galleries representing over 50 artists. The small, red enclave projects an artsy atmosphere. Its no wonder so many artists chose to make it home!
Accommodations and Dining
Roussillon, France is a small village, so you will not find any large hotels in the area. However, there are lovely bed and breakfasts and villa rentals available to choose from. You will find options available in the village and in the surrounding countryside. I stayed at a wonderful Inspirato chateau rental.
Similarly, dining options consist of local cafes and restaurants. You will find a selection of French traditional cuisine and regional dishes on the menu. My favorite spot to dine was Restaurant David – for the food and the views!
The unique color scheme of Roussillon, France is reason enough to add it to your itinerary when exploring the south of France. Two days is plenty of time to explore the town and conquer the hiking trails. This tiny village is sure to provide some picture perfect moments for your collection.