EDEN 2017 destination finalist: the Luberon ochre trail

Ever thought of following the red rock trail running through the Luberon, at the heart of Provence?

This extraordinary geological wonder has made Roussillon and its surrounding area one of the most famous sites in France’s sunny south, containing one of the world’s largest natural concentrations of ochre, the industrial extractions of which have shaped a truly unique pictorial landscape.

Situated 50km from Avignon, Roussillon was the capital of ochre until 1945. This small village blends seamlessly into the surrounding cliffs and, as you walk through the narrow streets, you see and feel the colour that forms an inherent part of its history.

There are seven separate sites open to visitors here:

- the ochre quarries around Roussillon itself;

- Roussillon’s ‘Conservatoire des Ocres et de la Couleur’ and Mathieu factory, endowed with a quality tourism label;

- the Mines des Bruoux in the town of Gargas;

- the Museum of Industrial Adventure (Musée de l’Aventure Industrielle) in the town of Apt, a recognised Musée de France;

- the Museum of Geology of the Luberon, also in Apt;

- the ‘Provençal Colorado’ in the towns of Rustrel and Gignac;

- the Barriès ochre-washing basin in the town of Rustrel.

Ochre is today enjoying a much-deserved revival. Its natural components and vibrant and long-lasting colours make it a great material to use in painting, ceramics and home decoration.

The Pays d’Apt also has many cultural attractions, including annual music, theatre and science festivals and the Jean-Paul Blachère Corporate Foundation, which promotes contemporary African art. Another great holiday destination for culture vultures, as well as lovers of geology.