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Visiting the Ochre Trail in Roussillon is otherworldly. I mean, after you visit the lovely town of Gordes with its white and gray limestone buildings, it is a shock to then find the reddish/orange town of Roussillon only about 15 minutes away.
Which is why it is a must-stop during your Luberon villages trip. If there is one thing that you must do in Roussillon, it is hike along the Ochre Trail (also known as the Ochre Path, or, in French, Le Sentier des Ocres).
Before you do that, let’s talk about everything you need to know about visiting the Ochre Trail in Roussillon, France including what the Ochre Trail is, where it’s located, details on hiking it, and more.
Why is Roussillon so Colorful? What is Ochre?
Why the stark contrast between Gordes and Roussillon in such a short distance you may ask? Well, it’s because of the ochre in Roussillon. Ochre is a natural clay earth pigment that ranges in color from red to orange and even yellow to light brown. And Roussillon sits on an ochre ridge.
Because of this, the village has many buildings that were made with clay that has ochre in it. Therefore, the village of Roussillon varies considerably from many other towns in the Luberon Valley.
The ochre quarries were mined back in the 1700s until 1930 to be used in the textile industry. Now that mining has stopped, there is a trail that visitors can hike along to see the ochre paths up close. Currently, tourism is the main source of income for Roussillon rather than mining.
Where is Roussillon?
Roussillon is located in the Luberon Valley in the department of Vaucluse in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region in the South of France.
It is between Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, making it a perfect stop on a South of France road trip! In fact, this is exactly what I did when I visited Provence–I made a day out of driving the Luberon Valley while transitioning from Avignon to Aix-en-Provence.
The Ochre Path is right next to the city, and you really can’t miss it. It is quite large and easy to spot from the city, which sits at the top of a hill.
Ochre Trail in Roussillon Hiking Options
There are a couple of options to choose from when it comes to hiking along the Ochre Path in Roussillon. You can either choose to take the Short Walk (or Boucle Courte in French) or the Long Walk (or Boucle Longue). The Short Walk takes about 35 minutes, while the Long Walk takes about 50 minutes. Both are pretty clearly mapped out both on a map that you can get upon entry as well as signage there.
Both paths weave through the ochre as well as the surrounding woods. The ochre itself is truly stunning with vibrant orange, yellow, and orange-red hues along the way.
It really depends on how long you’d prefer to walk which determines which path you end up doing. As my sister and I were doing a whole day in the Luberon and exploring various villages, we only did the short route because we wanted to get to the next village soon.
However, if you are staying in Roussillon or plan to spend a larger portion of your day here, then definitely check out the Long Path.
Cost to Visit Le Sentier des Ocres: For adults, the cost to visit the Ochre Trail is only €3.50. For groups of 15+, it is €2.50. It is free for children under 10 and people with reduced mobility.
The cost is the same to enter whether you hike the shorter or longer path, as you just pay upon entry.
When to Hike the Roussillon Ochre Trail
It is lovely to hike year-round, and you’ll notice that the colors change throughout the day based on sunshine and cloud cover. In fact, hiking it on a cloudy day makes the colors seem more vibrant.
Regardless, it is absolutely gorgeous to see, and if you want to hike the trail with the fewest amount of people, then you’ll either want to visit as soon as it opens (between 9-11 am depending on the time of the year) or an hour or two before it closes (between 4-8 pm depending on the time of year).
Also, note that Provence is pretty busy during the summer months, thanks to many people exploring the nearby lavender fields. So if you want to go when it is less busy, opt for the spring, fall, or even December.
It does tend to close for about 6 weeks or so from January until February, and you can check here for more information about opening hours and dates.
The trail is also closed during heavy rain and thunderstorms, as well as when the risk of fire is high.
Getting There & Where to Park to Hike the Ochre Trail in Roussillon
The easiest way to get to Roussillon and the Ochre Path is via car. There isn’t a train station in the village, so having your own vehicle is wise to get around here. I recommend taking the train into Avignon or Aix-en-Provence and renting a car so you can explore the area, including the Luberon Valley.
I like checking prices and booking on Auto Europe.
There is plenty of parking near the town of Roussillon. There are both parking lots and street parking available for a price starting at €4. Parking lots can be found at Fontaine 1, Fontaine 2, Sablons, Les Ocres, St Michel, St Joesph Bus, and St Joseph Auto.
If you are bringing a motorhome, then you may park at St Joseph Auto car park which is €4 from 8 am-10 pm and €7 from 10 pm-8 am.
Handicap parking is also available and marked at Pasquiet Car Park, on Fontaine Street, Sablons, and at the Sentier des Ocres.
What to Wear to Hike Along the Sentier des Ocres
While many people enjoy wearing cute dresses and sandals to explore the villages of the Luberon, and particularly the lavender fields, I wouldn’t recommend it for hiking along the Ochre Trail.
While it isn’t a terribly strenuous hike by any means, having tennis shoes is still a good idea. No, you don’t need hiking boots or anything, but closed-toe shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty are helpful, especially as the ochre is everywhere, including the path. This means your shoes will definitely get a little dirty. I wore my Adidas shoes so that I could easily wipe off the dirt later on.
I also wouldn’t say that you necessarily need to wear hiking clothes either. Again, it is a pretty easy path, so jeans are just fine. As long as you don’t sit down on the path or something, you likely won’t get dirty. Just beware of windy days, though.
Essentially, don’t wear all white everything, or anything fancy.
What Are Some Rules For Hiking the Ochre Path in Roussillon?
Some basic rules for hiking the Ochre Path include:
- Stay on the path. Do not stray off the path. This helps keep the ochre paths preserved for future generations.
- Keep your dog on a leash. There are hiking trails around France where you can let your dog off-leash, however, this isn’t one of them.
- Clean up after yourself. This includes your dog.
- Baby carriers are recommended rather than strollers.
- Professional photos and videos are allowed, but you should pay.
- Do not start a fire or smoke.
- Do not enter caves.
- Don’t have a picnic here or eat.
- Do not pick up plants or ochre.
- Do not slide or climb on the rocks.
- No biking or drones allowed.
Other Things to Do in Roussillon Other Than the Ochre Trail
The town of Roussillon is stunning to visit on its own. Here are some other things you can do in the village other than exploring the Ochre Trail that you can include during your visit.
- Admire the architecture. The ochre plays a big role in the buildings in the town, so why not admire the beautiful architecture in the village?
- Visit art galleries. There are a few art galleries to admire in the village, including Art Gallery Contemporary Tapiezo.
- Have a meal with a view. You can see part of the Ochre Trail from the town itself, so why not grab a meal with a view? Places like Restaurant David and Le Restaurant Le Piquebaure are great places to enjoy a meal with a view.
- Visit the Ecomusee de l’Ocre. Located in a former ochre processing site, the Camille Mathieu Factory, it is now a museum that has information about the factory and ochre. You can also enjoy workshops and even purchase ochre and pigments.
- Sip wine at nearby vineyards. Being in Provence, you know there are places for some great wine. Check out nearby vineyards like Vignoble Chasson–Chateau Blanc, Domaine de Tara, and Domaine Girod.
- Visit Eglise St Michel. This church in the town of Roussillon is orange on the outside and beautifully decorated on the inside, making it a perfect place to visit.
- Enjoy the weekly market. Like many towns in Provence, there is a farmer’s market. The Roussillon market is every Thursday morning from 9 am-12 pm. This is a great opportunity to try local products and get some fresh fruits and veggies.
- Explore the Luberon Valley. There are SO many charming villages in the Luberon Valley including Gordes, Bonnieux, Lourmarin, Cucuron, and more! It is definitely worth exploring the smaller villages as well as stopping by lavender fields and Senanque Abbey along the way!
Where to Stay in Roussillon
While you could certainly just visit Roussillon on a day trip, there are some hotels in the town to stay in should you wish to extend your visit.
La Maison des Ocres– This charming hotel in the heart of it all has a pool, garden, and rooms with views of the surrounding area.
Hotel & Spa Les Sabes d’Ocre– This adults-only hotel is a great place to unwind after a day of exploring Roussillon, especially with its pool and spa.
Le Clos de la Glycine– Home to the Restaurant David mentioned above, this place has stunning views of the Ochre Trail and surrounding area as well as light-filled lovely rooms.
This is everything you need to know about visiting the Ochre Trail in Roussillon. Whether you plan to spend quite a bit of time in the village or just stop by for a day trip, this is a great place to add to your trip to Provence!
Would you like to visit Roussillon?
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