Roussillon en Provence (a photo gallery) - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

November 12, 2022

Roussillon en Provence (a photo gallery)

There are currently 172 designated Plus Beaux Villages de France (most beautiful villages of France).  We don’t normally go out of our way to visit them or stay in them - in this tour we’ve been in France over five months and have only seen or passed through about fifteen of them and stayed or will stay overnight in only five: Conques, Lagrasse, Sainte-Enimie, Vezelay, and Lourmarin.  In all of our travels in France, adding up to well over a year now, we’ve still only seen about a fourth of them.

It’s too strong a statement to say that we avoid these places, which after all did receive their designation for a very good reason.  France has an endless supply of spectacularly beautiful places though, and the ones on the designated beauty list of course tend to be tourist magnets - often overvisited, taken over by tourism infrastructure, and often small, expensive places to stay overnight.  In general we tend to stay in towns or villages that are quieter, less well known on the tourist map, and still maintain more of an ‘authentic’ feeling (whatever that means).

Roussillon though - we’ve always known we wanted to come back to it for a second look, ever since we visited it in July 2003 at the height of lavender season and in the middle of a historic heat wave that left us moving our mattress onto our small balcony in Bonneaux and sleeping outside because there was not A/C in our sweltering room.

Why?  Because Roussillon is such a color riot.  The village is on the tourist map primarily because it is located in the heart of the most important ochre quarry in Europe.  The ochre quarries were shut down half a century ago to preserve this unique landscape, but the color remains - in the pigments of the building facades in the village and in the eroded, sculpted quarry, now a ticketed tourist destination.

The quarry is amazing, but let’s look at the village first, which is just as spectacularly colorful in a totally different way.

Flamboyant Roussillon wears the colors of its ochre mining heritage.
Heart 6 Comment 0
It’s mid-November, but the village is still quite busy on this sunny Saturday afternoon. It’s a holiday weekend though, so likely it’s much busier than it would be normally this late in the year.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Entering a magical fairyland.
Heart 6 Comment 0
Roussillon is a small place, but large enough that even on this busy weekend you can still find quiet streets to admire. And it does make a huge difference that the core of the village is pedestrianized.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 6 Comment 1
Heart 5 Comment 0
Heart 5 Comment 1
Steve Miller/GrampiesLove, love, love those shots through an archway.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 2
Keith AdamsWhat are that ring and pin all about?
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonBacchus’ bottle opener, I imagine.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 4 Comment 2
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsI should have poked my nose in to check it out.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
The village is spectacular, but so is the surrounding countryside. We’re standing here on the belvedere at the top of the town, looking down on our route biking in from below.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 5 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 4 Comment 1
Graham FinchWell spotted... not caption needed!
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Heart 3 Comment 0

The village is great, but the big draw here is the Sentier des Ocres, the Ochre Trail.  It begins just a few blocks from the center of the village.  It’s an easy walk, and one that immediately pulls you in as you descend the staircase from the ticket window to a bowl surrounded by these wonderful red and orange and gold formations, offset by the dramatic green oaks and pines.

It’s a short walk - maybe a half hour - in a fairly small space, but somehow Rachael and I still manage to lose each other.  I say somehow, but actually there’s no mystery in what happened.  As I’m staring around snapping photos in all directions I hear her voice behind me, as she was planning to take a photo of me.  Darn - I left the phone with the bikes.  Oh well.  Oh, I have my GoPro!

Maybe twenty minutes or more later she’s raving about her experience shooting video as she walked around; and later she’ll be delighted at how well it turned out, something she’s never tried before.  The image stabilization is so great!

Video sound track: Pavane, by Pablo Segovia Gardel

Unfortunately, once she turned on her GoPro and started walking around she became totally absorbed in what she was doing and forgot to tell me she was moving on.  By the time I looked up she was gone around the bend out of sight, and I had no idea where she was.  I waited a few minutes for her to appear but then finally reach for my phone to call her, stopping short when I remember she said she’d forgotten it at the bikes.  I reache for my Garmin instead thinking I could locate her position with it, but I don’t have it - I’ve forgotten it on my bike.

So, a problem; and a worrisome one for me, because Rachael’s prone to getting lost or spacially disoriented, and then to panic a bit when she does.  I considered the possibilities.  She probably didn’t fall over the edge, because that would have caused some noise and commotion.  I came up with the theory that she decided to walk back to the bikes and get the phone, both so she could take photos with it and for security from theft.  If she had gone back, she could be in difficulty.  Maybe she can’t remember where we’ve parked the bikes. Or maybe when she did she can’t get back in again because I have her ticket.  

Or she could have gone forward around the bend, and if she did she’s probably just fine.  If she went back though she might need my help; so I go back to the bikes myself.

She’s not there.  I turn around, flash my ticket at the agent as I pass the gate, and when I get back to the overlook I see her below, waving her arms at me.  So that was interesting.  We have a short discussion, reminding each other that it’s important to each carry a phone and to tell our partner we’re walking off.  We vow to try to remember this if we make it back to Roussillon for a third visit in another decade or so, which could happen.

At the beginning of the Sentier des Ocres. We’re still outside the admission gate, so if you forgot your €’s you can at least get this far and get some nice views.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Including a decent view of this mountain to the north. This is as close as we’ll get to it this time around.
Heart 2 Comment 0
On the Sentier des Ocres. We’re here at a pretty decent time, not too busy to spoil the experience.
Heart 6 Comment 0
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 2 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 1 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 0
Not lost! She was never lost, actually. She knew where she was all along.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Rate this entry's writing Heart 11
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Kathleen ClassenI am like Rachael. I get spatially disoriented so easily. It is why Keith does all the navigation. Even here at home I can get turned around, and you would laugh at how careful I am if I am on the ferry by myself. I don’t ever want to be that poor soul running from side to side and car deck to car deck trying to find my damn car. It just seems to be the way my brain works (or should that be doesn’t work?). Either way it can be frustrating.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonTo Kathleen ClassenThanks. It makes me feel better that I’m not the only one! I really had a bad time yesterday in Lourmarin because the phone wasn’t working for navigation. I had to call Scott to find me so I could get back to the apartment we are staying at. I was really close but the apartment is kind of hidden. I need to pay better attention to where places are but with constantly moving around it is hard to do.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Kathleen ClassenBeen there, done that. It always makes me feel an idiot, but Keith gets it and comes to my rescue, like Scott. One thing I have found helps a bit is to turn around and look back at where I have been, because that will be the view on the return trip. Works well in a huge parking lot, not so well in a maze of narrow cobbled streets in an old European town!
Reply to this comment
1 week ago