Google Provence and you will be flooded with gorgeous images of lavender fields and historic villages artfully carved into mountains. However, what you might not see unless you scroll back a very long way are the stunning orange and yellow cliffs and quarries found in the Ochres of the Luberon. Inspired by their beauty, I ventured to the lovely town of Roussillon to take a hike on the Ochre Trail, or Le Sentier des Ocres.
The Ochre Trail, or Le Sentier des Ocres, is located in Roussillon, France. Roussillon is approximately a one hour and twenty-minute drive from Aix-en-Provence and a one hour drive from Avignon. Roussillon has earned the distinction as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (the most beautiful villages of France), so a visit to the Ochre Trail can – and should – be combined with a stroll through the village.
Upon my arrival in Roussillon, I parked at the appropriately named Parking des Ocres (link here to Google maps). You do need to pay for this parking lot, but after three hours, my parking fee was only three euros. You can pay in cash (coins) or via credit card. Take note that the pay machine in the back of the parking lot only takes cash and coins, while the one at the entrance takes credit cards. Just make sure to keep your parking ticket on you so you can pay while heading back to your car.
From the parking lot, it is a very short walk to the Ochre Trail entrance. Before paying and entering, you will see a public water fountain. There are no concessions inside the Ochre Trail, so I recommend filling up before you go on your hike. During my visit at the end of August, it was 90 degrees!
The fee to enter the Ochre Trail is €2.50 but rises to €7.50 if you also want to visit the conservatory. Payment can be taken in cash or credit card. I opted to just visit the Ochre Trail, as I wanted to visit other towns later in the day. Upon entry, you have the choice of taking two hikes, one that is 30-minute or another that is 60-minutes. As it was 90 degrees, I opted to take the short one, but as I would later find out, the 30-minute one is probably more like 15-20 minutes of hiking. Had it not been so hot, it would have been nice to try the longer one.
The descent into the Ochre Trail is nothing short of stunning. Surrounded by the bright orange cliff, you feel as though you’re in a completely different world.
As the photo above shows, there are a lot of steps to climb up and down to visit the Ochre Trail. The trails themselves are what you might expect from an easy hike, but do require more effort than walking down a flat path. I would recommend wearing sneakers that you do not mind getting covered in orange sand. I saw so many young children completely covered in it, but thankfully only my shoes took on the orange hue!
Once you are down the stairs, the scenery is absolutely beautiful. I was rewarded with a stunning day and photos marked with bright orange, green and blue. Just amazing.
After taking tons of photos, it was time to embark on the hike!
Make sure to hold onto the pamphlet you are given upon arrival. It tells you how to differentiate between the short and long trail. There are signs clearly posted throughout the a yellow vs. orange symbol, but just in case you forget!
The reward of going on the hike versus simply taking photos from the village of Roussillon is that you get to see different angles of the cliffs and quarries up close that you could not get elsewhere.
As I mentioned, the short hike takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on your speed and how many times you stop to take photos. The terrain includes up and down hills, stairs, and portions best described as soft and sandy. The beautiful orange hue is consistent throughout.
It truly is a delight to experience. At some points, you feel as though you could be on another planet!
My only regret? Not bringing my selfie stick to get better photos of myself in this beautiful place! Normally, I have no problems asking strangers to take my photo, but on my visit, it proved impossible to find someone to do so.
For more information and to see video footage of the Ochre Trail – check out my travel VLOG from my visit there!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to The Ochre Trail. It’s truly a different experience and a geological wonder. I would highly recommend a visit if you’re not afraid of getting a little ochre pigment on your shoes – or working up a bit of a sweat with a hike!
For more information on visiting The Ochre Trail, including hours and pricing, you can visit the official website.