•Vaucluse (84220) • Population: 1,165 • Altitude: 343 m
The ocre-red village of Roussillon, one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, is a tourist destination on the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse. Roussillon is a beautiful village, with its red rocks, red stone buildings and red tile roofs.
Roussillon is lovely from the outside, set in a deep green pine forest on bright red-ocre hills. Roussillon is even more spectacular inside the village, with the colorful old buildings and narrow medieval streets. The village center is fairly small, so wandering the streets to discover the many lovely sites doesn't take very long. A couple of our favorites are: the square with the pair of old buildings [Photo 5] and the 19th-century clock and bell tower [Photo 1] with its (campanile), bells and ancient sundials.
Village Parking. On an earlier visit a few years ago, we were disturbed about the pay parking in and all around the town, with apparently random people collecting random amounts of money wherever you stopped your car. It's still pay parking, but now organized and with clear information: there's a 2-euro charge for parking the car for the day, with automatic dispenser machines to obtain the tickets. We feel this is a reasonable charge (and cheaper than the 3-€ parking at nearby Gordes).
The Giants' Causeway (Sentier des Ocres) is a natural park of jagged cliffs of ochre beside the village of Roussillon. A walking tour of the park should take well under an hour. (See our Reader's Comments, below.) The entrance is on the small hill facing the village, beside the cemetery and one of the parking lots.
This is a tour you really should take. It's marked as 35 minutes, but you could well take longer, especiall if you have kids with you — the very fine redish-orange sand is great to play in. Which reminds us, if you do have kids, have a spare set of clothes ready for them at the end: we saw a lot of orange-colored kiddies heading back to clean cars. Your walking tour starts and ends at the same place, with a loop down into a shady forest in between, all on earth trails with a coating of fine sand.
Entrance is 2 euros.
Samuel Beckett Moved to Roussillon in October 1942 and lived here until 1945. In his book Waiting for Godot, Beckett's character Vladimir says (parphrasing) 'We were together in the Vaucluse. We did the vendange at the Bonnelly place in Roussillon'.
History of Roussillon
First record, 989 de Rossillione
Prehistoric: So many neolithic signs and artifacts have been discovered here that the site is now an important archeological reserve.
Gallo-Roman: There are signs of the Roman occupation of Roussillon when they were mining ocre from the hills.
Medieval: Various Lords ruled here until the Revolution, including Agoult, Vins and Isle.
Tel (Mairie): 04 90 05 60 25; Fax: 04 90 05 73 34
Mon-Sat, 10h-12h, 14h-17h30
Market day: Thursday morning
Fête - Journées de l'Ocre: Ascension
Fête Votive: last Sunday July
Roussillon is located about 10 km northwest of Apt, a bit north of the N100 highway between Avignon and Apt. Other villages in the area (north of the N100) coming from Avignon are Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Cabrières-d'Avignon and Gordes. If you're not in a hurry, this makes a nice itinerary of stops along the way. More directly, from Avignon, head east along the N100, following signs for Apt. About 45 km from Avignon, after the roads for Goult and Bonnieux, look for a turning to the left.
Cavaillon - Gordes - Roussillon Bus 15.3
Vaucluse bus line 15.3 connects Cavaillon, Robion, Coustellet, Cabrières-d'Avignon, Gordes and Roussillon.
At Coustellet, this line connects with Line 15.1 (Avignon - Apt).
At Cavaillon, this line connects with Line 7 (Avignon - Cavaillon).
A list of schedules for the Vaucluse bus line are at the bottom of the Vaucluse department transport page (http://www.vaucluse.fr/1119-recherche-de-lignes.htm") - click on the link 15.3 Cavaillon Gordes Roussillon to download the bus schedule PDF file.
Department 84, Vaucluse Buses
See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 2: Vaucluse Department for downloading Vaucluse bus-lines map [Plan global des lignes] and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
• Avignon has train or bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Nîmes, Saint Remy-de-Provence, Paris.
• Cavaillon has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Saint Remy-de-Provence.
• Pertuis has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
• Latitude, Longitude: 43.902546, 5.293501
IGN (1/25,000) #3142 OT "Cavaillon, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse"
IGN (1/25,000) #3142 E "Apt (ouest), Bonnieux (3242 OT)"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #14 "Luberon, Sainte-Victoire"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #27 "Ventoux"
The GR6 Hiking Trail passes east-west through Roussillon.
• To the east, the GR6 goes to the village of Gargas, then heads northeast towards St. Saturnin-lès-Apt at the base of the Plateau de Vaucluse.
• To the west from Roussillon, the GR6 goes to the perched village of Gordes, then up past the ancient Abbaye de Sénanque.
Comments and photo(s) contributed by Beena
Roussillon, for us, was special,because of the different colors of the houses, that you can see from looking from further away. Looking at it from the entrance to the Park was a nice site, and the walk in the colorful park was one of the most beautiful sites. Btw - this park is not mentioned in the Eyewitness book, we learned about this place by accident, when we parked the car (just outside the village) we got a receipt, that gave us free entrance for one person, and the entrace was just near the parking lot, so we decided to try it out, and lucky for us.
Comments contributed by Marcia D., San Francisco, Nov 1998
In Roussillon is a wonderful little cafe right in the town square, called Cafe Mincka [Ed: see "May 2008", below]. Mincka has a great assortment of wonderful "tasting salads" featuring Provencal specialties. She cooks everything herself, and her son serves. There are several cafes on the square, but Mincka's is the best, we think. She also has a selection of dog foods available, if you have your best friend with you.
Comments contributed by Deb and Randal, Minnesota, March 2003
We spent a wonderful evening walking through this beautiful little town in late March, and it was one of the highlights of our trip to the Avignon area. It was colorful and clean and, since we waited until late afternoon, there were no tourists! Visitors must not miss taking a walk through the ochre mine — it was other-worldly and extremely beautiful — like being in Dr. Seuss-land. The walk through the village at sunset was absolutely lovely. Visitors might enjoy a short walk to the top of the village; there is an excellent panoramic view including a unique map that permits identification of surrounding peaks and geographical highlights of the valley.
Comments contributed by Finn Skovgaard, May 2008
A reader recommends Mincka's cafe as the best place to eat in the village of Roussillon.
When I asked for it, I was told by a local trader that it doesn't exist any more but has been continued by a new owner in the name of "Café des Couleurs", so I tried that, and I would go there again the next time. Their salade niçoise was near perfect and the service polite.