Perched high on a hill in Pyrenees-Orientales, Roussillon has been designated as one of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de la France”. Pastel-coloured, shuttered houses line its winding streets, which open out into lively squares. Roussillon is notable for its history of quarrying ochre, which was used as a pigment in the textile industry.
Things to do in Roussillon
If you want to learn about Rousillon’s ochre history, visit Ôkhra - Écomusée De L’ocre, which details the years between 1921 and 1963 at the old Mathieu ochre factory. Read testimonials from the former foreman, Elie Icard, and browse the vintage equipment on display before getting hands-on with natural paints in one of the workshops.
Want to stretch your legs? Follow Le Sentier des Ocres, which winds its way through one of Roussillon’s old ochre quarries. Marvel at the red-hued rocks along one of the two walking trails where you will find signs explaining the local geology, history, flora and fauna. Take note of the endemic Provençal plants growing in the quarries and keep your eyes peeled for native birdlife.
Roussillon is dotted with independent art galleries, such as the Art Gallery Contemporary Tapiezo. It showcases the work of a local abstract artist who draws on materials found in the region (including ochre) to inspire his unique, mixed-media creations. The art gallery is a short stroll from the Eglise Saint- Michel, a charming Catholic church dating back to the 11th century.
Getting around Roussillon
Roussillon is just under an hour’s drive from the centre of Avignon and 40 minutes from Avignon – Provence Airport while the much-larger Marseille Provence Airport is just over an hour away. Regular buses connect to Roussillon and the town is compact enough to explore on foot.