Hill towns of Provence


Driving about an hour from Aix, there are numerous hill towns in the mountains of Luberon that have survived the ages and now exist primarily to service tourists. Gordes, above, was refurbished by the designer of the Peugeot car label and now is home to movie stars and “noveaux riche”. We must have been there on an off day – none to be seen.

On the way, passing over a mundane but functional bridge, looking to the left are the still standing remains of its Roman predecessor. Until recently, this bridge, dated to 3 AD, was still being used as the only crossing of this river – for cars as well as people. The Julian bridge, dedicated to Julius Caesar, was only decommissioned in 2005. So it has remained functional for 2,000 years!!!

The first village we saw was Lourmarin, home of Albert Camus, whose granddaughter is still a resident. Easily missed it was so small. Just outside of Luberon, it is framed by its mountains,

Driving towards Roussillon, many beautiful views can be seen as you climb further up the Luberon hills.

Arriving in Roussillon, amazing with it’s homes coloured by the use of the ochre deposits in the area. Although red hues are prime, ochre contains subtle differences and many variations of hues. Before chemicals took its place, ochre mining was the basis for wealth as a source of colour for paints, food and textiles. Looking very similar to the sands of Utah and Sedona deserts, ochre was renowned for maintaining its colour over many years without fading.

The many hues of Roussillon

But what was more captivating were the remaining quarries. Now defunct, the quarries created a cradle for a magical hike through shades of red interspaced with forest green.

A short but beautiful hike.


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