Rousillon – a spectacularly picturesque Medieval village owes much of its visual appeal to the ocher hill on which it is situated and the varying and strong colors of the houses built by villagers over the centuries who used the local material to tint them. Colors ranging from rich yellows to intense reds decorate the homes in this village. Ocher has been used as a tint for coloring for centuries and in 1780 commercial development of the ocher deposits began, being mined either in tall, underground galleries or out in the open and shipped from the port of Marseille to buyers in all parts of the world for use in textiles and paints. This industry which employed approximately 1000 local inhabitants by the beginning of the 1900’s started to decline when synthetic dyes became available and by the 1930’s had for all practical purposes, collapsed.
Notable is the fact that the author Samuel Beckett moved to Roussillon in 1942 and his book, “Waiting for Godot” has references to the Vaucluse and Roussillon.
Today, the old quarries are open to visitors as a part of the Sentiers des Ocres or Ocher Trail. This tour takes approximately 30 – 40 minutes and if you are accompanied by children, it may be advisable to have a change of clothes for them.