Thursday, February 24, 2011


Miekel, I have found the perfect place for you. Forget Arizona, Roussillon is your spot. Sometime in your life you must come here, if not to settle then at least to visit. Stay right in the town. I know the perfect little house. Oh, I know, I know, someone is already living in it but that is a minor detail. The colours here immediately screamed your name. Roussillon is now my favourite village in all of Provence.

Roussillon is yet another hilltop village. Apparently, back in the day, hilltops were THE place to build your town to watch for impending attacks from marauders and other undesirables. The whole view thing hasn’t lost any of its charm today and the village has all the ingredients for cute town; twisty narrow streets, quaint medieval looking buildings, interesting ironwork detailing and so on. Rousillon, however, has an added bonus. It is built on a hilltop made of ochre. For many years just before the Second World War, this was the single largest producer of ochre in the world. All the bricks used to build with used ochre from Roussillon to get their wonderful brick colour.

The ochre deposit is now a sanctuary. The townfolk charge money to walk the path through the ochre hills but don’t miss it! It is absolutely stunning! The soil feels sandy and the deepest red will stain your fingers if you touch it. Julia thought it felt like that “Moon Sand” they have for kids now. It is red, yellow, white and hundreds of glorious colours in between. Fairy chimneys of the stuff rise up around you as you walk. With the blue sky above and tall green pines dotting the path around, the effect is magnificent. One part of the path allows you to walk on the soil and both kids immediately felt the need to make a movie about Mars. The landscape feels that foreign. It should feel foreign. It was created at the bottom of the sea several million years ago. I just wanted to go back again and again to capture the place in many different lights.

They sell the paint in tourist stores all over the village but only one was actually open. Naturally, we bought a set. In order to get the pure colour out, they use the same technique as they did in the salt mines in Salzburg. They add it to water, wait for the sand to settle to the bottom, drain the water from the sand and then boil the water off to leave the pure colour. All the buildings in the town are painted shades of ochre and walking through the town is a photographer’s paradise. The people who live here must be artists of one sort or another. I’m not a painter but even I am itching to try out the paint set. I’m not sure the pictures really do the place justice. You just don't get the same vibrancy because the angle of the sun was wrong.

1 comments: said...

Glorious town....I loved all the photos you sent and now to hear about it is great! Love Mom