In the south of France, about 30 km from Avignon, there is a small village of Roussillon, who impresses everyone especially because of its red saturated buildings, which contrast sharply with the surrounding dark green hills. It lies on top of the hill and is known as one of the largest ocher deposits in the world.
Roussillon is considered one of the most beautiful villages of France. Thanks to the nearby ocher mines, which are a major tourist attraction, has the whole village a reddish colour. Also, the local soil has all the shades of red, ranging from beige to dark red. It used to be mined 17 different colors of ocher – purple, red, orange, yellow, and many others. The history of this site dates back to 230 million years ago, when all the area of Provence was under the sea. The sand at the bottom contained iron, which later oxidized, and such created the ocher.
Already the ancient Romans used it to produce glazes on pottery. In 18th century the local residents found out how to adjust the pigment to be resistant to water. With this discovery, a new industry of colors began. Such colors could be used not only for surface treatment of ceramic products, but also in painting houses. The production of colours decreased in 50′s of 20th century. Nowadays, the ocher is not mining any more and this pigment is produced artificially. The village, however, maintain the original color, and together with its surrounding it is a protected area.
In the village you can walk through the narrow and steep streets that are lined with houses with beautiful red-colored facades, houses the souvenir shops. The beautiful village of Roussillon is unfortunately flooded with crowds in the summer, so if you want to enjoy its unique atmosphere, it is good to visit in a spring or autumn.
View Roussillon – the sunniest region in France in a larger map