Monthly Archives: October 2008

Roussillon – the Artist’s Palette

Today we leave L’isle Sur la Sorgue and travel about 30 minutes east to the ochre cliffs of Roussillon (roo see yohn).  Designated as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Roussillon is a small, quiet village, famous for its beautiful ochre cliffs.  

Photo by Herve Vincent

 Surrounded by a beautiful pine forest, Roussillon was home to a thriving ochre industry that began in the late 18th century and flourished well into the 20th century.  The ochre was harvested and used to tint paints before artificial pigments were introduced. 

 As you look across the cliffs, you see the whole color palette that inspired Cezanne, Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir  and other great artists.  Every shade of burgundy, red, rust, crimson, rose, salmon, peach, gold, saffron…even green is evident in the cliffs on which the village is built. 

 The rich, varied hues are everywhere, in the facades of the buildings, the trompe l’oeil paintings, as well as the pottery and textiles.



 Active travelers will enjoy one of the two hiking paths that wind through the pine forest…there’s a 30 minute loop and a 1 hour loop.  Art enthusiasts may want to check out the Conservatory of Ochre and Applied Pigments, where you will learn the history of the pigment industry and can join in on artist workshops. 


But today, let’s just sit in an outdoor café and enjoy lunch overlooking the valley below, surrounded by the rich, vibrant hues.  You’ll feel like you are part of the painting itself.  Pick up some post cards, tableware or small pottery items to take the beautiful color palette home with you.