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Roussillon lies in the northern part of the Luberon, between the Luberon mountain and the Vaucluse Plateau. The village is famous for its ochre quarries that were exploited from the end of the 18th century until the 1930s.

Watch this short video on the Luberon!

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Why you should visit Roussillon

Roussillon is a delightful Provençal village and the second most visited in the Luberon after Gordes. Its location at the top of a steep hill certainly gives it a fantastic panorama, and it is labelled as one of the most beautiful villages of France (plus beaux villages de France).

Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

Part of the village © French Moments

The village originated from a small castle built there in 987 and now contains several beauties such as the Saint Michel church and pretty, colourful facade buildings.

Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

A peaceful street in the village © French Moments

The village has no historical monuments worth visiting. However, Roussillon is a not-to-miss hilltop village in the Luberon for its colourful façades. Indeed, ochres of an infinite variety compose the frontages of the houses (sometimes in trompe l'oeil on a gate or a wall) and the surrounding landscape.

Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

A low-angle view of the village © French Moments

Place du Pasquier

The square was first used for grazing, then for the seven annual fairs. It now serves as a car park.

The square welcomes the traditional open-air market on Thursday morning.

Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

Place du Pasquier and Rue des Bourgades © French Moments

Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

Place du Pasquier and Rue des Bourgades © French Moments

Rue des Bourgades

The winding central streets (rue des Bourgades, rue des Lauriers) lead to the top of the village. During your stroll, you will discover art galleries, Provençal shops and townhouses from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

Rue des Bourgades © French Moments

At each street corner, the eye catches a typically Provençal detail which inspires one to dream.

Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

Trompe-l'œil gate in the old village © French Moments

Place de l'Abbé-Avon

This square means "le dessous du four" (under the oven) because the baker's oven was located in the rock dug out to house a house. Avon was an abbot who devoted himself during the plague epidemic of 1720. On the left is the Porte Heureuse.

Place de la Mairie

Adjacent to Place de l'Abbé-Avon is the town-hall square with beautiful 18th-century houses, including the Mairie.

Town-Hall of Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

Place de la mairie © French Moments

Town-Hall of Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

Town-Hall of Roussillon © French Moments

Place de la mairie, Roussillon © French Moments

A town-house on Place de la mairie © French Moments

Place de la mairie, Roussillon © French Moments

Details of houses in Place de la mairie © French Moments

The Belfry

This is the old gateway to the Castrum (the fortified wall). The belfry was remodelled in the 19th century as an annexe to the church.

Belfry of Roussillon © French Moments

The Belfry of Roussillon © French Moments

The first alley, on the left, leads to the old covered way, which once joined two towers of the ramparts. The district has kept the name "quartier de la Bistourle" (bistourle = two towers). Admire the beautiful view over the village and the surrounding area.

Belfry of Roussillon © French Moments

The Belfry of Roussillon © French Moments

Saint Michel Church

The original church dated back to the 11th century and was located inside the fortifications, facing the castle and the cliff. Its façade dates from the 17th century, and its choir from the 18th century.

Saint-Michel church, Roussillon © French Moments

The façade of Saint-Michel church © French Moments

Place de la Forge

The square is located on the supposed site of the castle's courtyard (edified in 987), of which some remains and a small calvary remain.

The orientation table

This is the highest point in the village, from where you can see a vast panorama from the Luberon to the Monts de Vaucluse.

Monts du Vaucluse and Mont Ventoux © French Moments

The view from the orientation table towards the Monts du Vaucluse and Mont Ventoux © French Moments

The cemetery

Have a peek at the village cemetery to see the ochre tombstones.

Roussillon in Provence © French Moments

The cemetery of Roussillon with its ochre tombstones © French Moments

To enjoy a beautiful view of Roussillon, come in the morning via the following two roads:

  • the road to Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt (D227)
  • the road to Goult (D104)

The village appears at the top of a steep hill where the red of the ochre is gradually revealed in the middle of the deep green of the pine forests. 

The Ochre Quarries

The ochre quarries of Roussillon are made of great pigments ranging from yellow and orange to red. The mining of ochre has left its mark on the facades of Roussillon’s houses, and a stroll through the village at sunrise or sunset will reveal stunning colours.

Ochre Pathway in Luberon © French Moments

Going down hill on the ochre Pathway in Roussillon © French Moments

The “Sentier de l’ocre” (ochre path) leads you through the old ochre quarries. If this astonishing landscape is the result of natural erosion by the wind and the rain, it has been accentuated by human hand which has cut deep galleries to extract the ochre.

Ochre Pathway in Luberon © French Moments

The path of the ochre © French Moments

In 1780, the colouring effect of ochre was discovered in Roussillon by Jean Etienne Astier, hence turning the peaceful village into a leading site of ochre production.

Ochre Pathway in Luberon © French Moments

Down the ochre path © French Moments

Ochre Pathway in Luberon © French Moments

The ochre path © French Moments

Ochre Pathway in Luberon © French Moments

The beautiful colours of the ochres of Roussillon © French Moments

Ochre Pathway in Luberon © French Moments

A low angle view of the ochre © French Moments

The legend of Lady Sirmonde

The legend behind the distinctive coloured ochre of Roussillon tells us a rather tragic story. Once upon a time, Lady Sirmonde, neglected by her husband, who was away too often, fell in love with Guillaume de Cabestan. When Sirmonde’s husband, Lord Raymond of Avignon, learnt about her infidelity, he plotted to kill Guillaume while hunting. Once Guillaume was dead, Raymond dug up his heart and gave it to the cook to be served to his wife. When Lady Sirmonde learnt about this terrible deed, she told him:

“You offered me such a good meal that never again will I wish to eat”.

The ochre of Roussillon © French Moments

The ochre cliffs of Roussillon © French Moments

When Raymond threatened her with his sword, she escaped and, in her flight, accidentally fell off the cliffs and died. The legend says that her blood had coloured the landscape of Roussillon forever.

Ochre Pathway in Luberon © French Moments

The ochre of Roussillon © French Moments

Find out more about Roussillon

How to get to Roussillon

Roussillon is located at :

  • 100 km from Marseille
  • 60 km from Aix-en-Provence
  • 50 km from Avignon
  • 25 km from Cavaillon
  • 13 km from Apt 
By road

From Avignon, follow the D900 road (50 km, about 50 min).

From Aix-en-Provence, reach Pertuis via the A51 motorway then follow the D973 to Cadenet and the D943 / D36 via Lourmarin and Bonnieux. Follow the D149 and D108 to Roussillon.

Coming from Marseille and Salon-de-Provence, take the A7 motorway, exit at Cavaillon and join the D900 to reach Roussillon.

Nearest airport

The nearest airport is Marseille-Provence. It is possible to reach Cavaillon by bus or train. From Cavaillon there are local bus routes to Roussillon.

Holiday accommodation in Roussillon

Roussillon has a high capacity for holiday accommodation. The commune has several hotels, including five three-star hotels, many bed and breakfasts (covering all price ranges), several estate agencies offering seasonal rentals, gîtes and a three-star campsite.

Click here to book your accommodation in the Luberon or browse the map below:

Booking.com

On the blog and other websites

Here are some pages from our blog and other websites to find out more about this Provencal destination.

What to do in the Luberon

Be inspired by a list of things to do in the Luberon:

Pin Roussillon on Pinterest

Roussillon Pinterest © French Moments

Roussillon © French Moments

English-French vocabulary

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs.

castle

cheese

church

cicada

countryside

to eat

garden

fountain

French Alps

French Riviera

hill

hilltop village

holiday

house

lavender

lavender field

market

Mediterranean Sea

mountain

olive oil

olive tree

perched village

Prealps

restaurant

square

stay

street

town-hall

villa

village

vineyard

to visit

to walk

wash house

château (m)

fromage (m)

église (f)

cigale (f)

campagne (f)

manger (v)

jardin (m)

fontaine (f)

Alpes françaises (f,p)

Côte d'Azur (f)

colline (f)

village perché (m)

vacances (f,p)

maison (f)

lavande (f)

champ de lavande (f)

marché (m)

Mer Méditerranée (f)

montagne (f)

huile d'olive (f)

olivier (m)

village perché (m)

Préalpes (f,p)

restaurant (m)

place (f)

séjour (m)

rue (f)

mairie (f)

villa (f)

village (m)

vignoble (m)

visiter (v)

marcher (v)

lavoir (m)

Have you been to Roussillon? Share your experience by commenting below! 🙂

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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