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France’s Most Beautiful Villages: Roussillon en Provence

With a unique beauty that has inspired acclaimed French artists Jean Cocteau and Pierre Ambrogiani among others, Roussillon is a village you don’t want to miss when you’re next visiting Provence.

Located at the southern end of the Plateau de Vaucluse, Roussillon is officially named one of France’s most beautiful villages. With its warmly toned colour scheme and advantageous situation overlooking the provençal countryside, it’s not hard to see why it deserves such a title.

Visiting Roussillon en Provence, one of France's most beautiful villages.

Exploring Roussillon

A recent Sunday afternoon had us donning our walking shoes and heading towards the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon.

Our aim? To visit the Sentier des Ocres and walk the trail through this stunning natural site.

It wasn’t until we drew closer that we realised the track starts not only nearby, but very close to the centre of Roussillon. And as I love visiting Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and seeing what makes them unique, we decided to stay to explore after we’d completed the Ochre Trail.

What to do in Roussillon, Provence

The sun was beating down on us as we stopped first at the glacier (ice cream shop), picking up a refreshingly zesty berry sorbet before setting off.

We wandered up the right-hand side of the village before being drawn into a tight-knit maze of alleyways lined with shops selling lavender-scented soaps and other locally produced delicacies. 

Continuing to wind our way through the streets, the sights and smells of Roussillon kept us intrigued as we went. On this warm day in early spring, the village was quietly humming with locals on their way to the boulangerie and the first tourists of the season – eager to visit before the crowds descend on the village in summer.

Views over Vaucluse and the Luberon Regional Park in France, from Roussillon Village

We walk past stone walls that look more like works of art as they display the full ochre-toned palette of the town, past houses plucked straight out of a movie set, and eventually reach the summit of the Castrum where the valley of Vaucluse spreads out before us.

RELATED POST: The Best Places to Stay in Provence, France

Where is Roussillon?

Roussillon is in the Vaucluse department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of Southern France. Its remote position in the depths of the Luberon regional park means the surrounding countryside remains largely undeveloped and tranquil.

To reach Roussillon by car, it’ll take around an hour from Avignon, or just over an hour from of Aix-en-Provence. Alternatively, you can take a tour which leaves from Avignon and includes a guided walk through the village.

What makes Roussillon worth a visit?

What to see in Roussillon en Provence, France - one of France's most beautiful villages.

It’s true that Provence has no shortage of chocolate-box-charming villages. But Roussillon still manages to stand out from the throng of pretty hillside hamlets. This is largely thanks to its unique colour scheme that stems from the ochre deposits surrounding it.

Traditional ochre rendering is used throughout the village – providing heat & sun resistance to the sun-soaked houses. The result provides a colourful contrast against the lush green cypress trees that shoot straight up between houses. The hues range from soft golden yellows, through to pastel pinks and deep burnt reds.

Roussillon’s ochre deposits weren’t only important for the construction of the village houses. Ochre mining has been the main economic activity in this region since the 18th century. Large amounts were mined right through to the mid-20th century when the mines were gradually closed down in this area. Nowadays ochre mining is prohibited to protect the site’s natural history. Meanwhile, tourism has taken over as the mainstay industry.

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Roussillon’s main attractions

Attractions in Roussillon en Provence, one of France's most beautiful villages. Les Plus Beaux villages de France

The Ochre Trail (or Sentier des Ocres) is undoubtedly what brings people to the village of Roussillon. But once you’ve walked the track and marvelled at the deep canyons of the former quarry, turn your sights towards the village.

In the middle of the Place de la Mairie sits the townhouse. One of the tallest buildings in Roussillon, its grand façade is the shade of burnt caramel offset by pale pastel green shutters. The town square is a great place to get your bearings and appreciate the architecture that surrounds it.

Not far from here you’ll find the restored Belfry that marks the entrance of the Castrum (fortified area). At the top of the village, you’ll be greeted with a magnificent view over the Luberon and the Monts de Vaucluse – points of interest are marked on an orientation table at the viewing platform.

Not unsurprisingly, artists thrive in this bucolic setting. Evidence of their talents can be seen in one of the many art galleries scattered throughout the village. Take the time to appreciate their wares on your way past.

In addition to the ochre mines, you can visit the Ochre Conservatory to learn how ochre is formed, and its heritage in this area of France. Join a guided visit, or try your hand at traditional crafts in the regular classes and workshops.

Where to stay and eat in Roussillon en Provence

where to eat in Roussillon, France

Eateries are sprinkled throughout the streets of Roussillon offering a chance to rest your feet while soaking up incredible views. Or simply sit back and satisfy your appetite while people-watching in the square. Food on offer is mainly traditional French fare, although there are also low-key eateries where you can grab a snack outside of set meal times.

There are a few accommodation options around the village of Roussillon, from cosy guesthouses to luxury boutiques. Check prices and availability here

For those travelling with a group or family, there are also many holiday rentals conveniently located within the village for an authentic Provençal experience.

Tips for visiting Roussillon

Parking is limited in the centre, so to save time simply park at the allocated car parks before the entrance to the village. Parking is €2/day.

Take a change of clothes for little ones if you plan on visiting the ochre trail – the fine orange soil is fun to play in, but doesn’t brush off so easily!

The Ochre Trail entrance is located opposite the central village car park – just look for the bright orange cliffs! Walk up the road a little way past a viewing point on one side and the cemetery on the other. There are entrance gates where you pay for admission (€2.50).

Our visit to Roussillon – one of Provence’s most beautiful villages – wasn’t planned, but it turned out to be just as remarkable as the nearby Ochre Trail.

This is one village in Provence that is worth taking the time to appreciate. And why not pick up some art while you’re there. After all, when in Roussillon…

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Roussillon en Provence is officially one of France's most beautiful villages. Find out why it deserves this prestigious title, how to get there, where to stay and what to see!
Roussillon en Provence is officially one of France's most beautiful villages. Find out why it deserves this prestigious title, how to get there, where to stay and what to see in Roussillon!

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Thursday 19th of April 2018

What a nice idea to start a series of posts about les plus beaux villages de France! I have never been to Roussillon but it looks like a nice place to spend some hours if you are around. Strange that the village of Roussillon does not belong to the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, isn't it? Aaahh those Frenchs . . ;-)


Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Thanks for sharing this beautiful place. We're regulars to the Cote D'Azur but starting to think about exploring Provence. We think a few days in Aix might be a good start so we could fit this in too! I'm off to read about Mornac and Talmont & look forward to seeing more ideas!

Nadine Maffre

Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Hi Jamie, Aix is such an amazing, beautiful, historic town - definitely a good idea to base yourselves there. Be sure to spend at least a full day exploring the villages of the Luberon, there are a few more of France's most beautiful among them!


Friday 14th of July 2017

So photogenic and charming! I can definitely see myself wandering around this town and taking photos of its every corner.

Explore With Ed

Monday 12th of June 2017

I love French villages like this, full of charm and character! I've not been to Roussillon yet, but I'm adding it to my list. :)

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