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Ochre Exploration Luberon Mines De Bruoux near Gargas

I have a confession to make. It’s been over 30 years since we first visited the area and over five (5) years since buying the house here, yet I hadn’t seen the incredible Mines de Bruoux, at nearby Gargas, until recently.

Incredible Mines de Bruoux

Typically when Ochres are mentioned, Roussillon and Rustrel tend to leap to mind, with their open-cast mines that have left vibrant coloured cliffs and wonderful footpaths to be explored. They are, without a doubt spectacular places, and are always enjoyable to visit, but the first sight of the size and scale of the Mines de Bruoux almost stopped me in my tracks. Continue reading here for the original Vaucluse Dreamer post.

To visit the Mines De Bruoux book a guided tour. The tours are 60 minutes long and are offered in several languages. Please note that the temperature in the mines is around 10ºC all year, so bring a jacket. During the summer, in this lovely, dramatic setting, there are concerts and plays in the evenings.

Tip: There is a café onsite that offers light snacks and drinks.

Mines de Bruoux (website)
1434 route de Croagnes
84400 Gargas
Open from April through early November
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 06 22 59

Visiting the Ochres

Roussillon Natural Walk: The Sentier des ochres de Roussillon, in the village is open annually from mid-February until December 31 (exact dates vary from year to year). The Ochre Trail is two trails of different lengths (30 or 60-minutes). Once you have paid the entry fee, you can stay as long as you like. Information signs along the route describe the geology and the history of the ochre deposits in the Luberon.

Tip: Leave your visit for late in the day as sunset is stunning.

Roussillon en Provence Information Services (website)
Place de la Poste
84220 Roussillon
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 05 60 25

Additional reading: Revisiting Provence’s Natural Ochre Hues in Roussillon.

Provence's Natural Ochre Roussillon

Ochre Ecomuseum: The Mathieu factory produced 1000 tons of ochre per year from 1921 to 1963 when the site was abandoned. Transformed with an educational purpose at Okhra Écomusée de l’ocre you learn about ochres and see the old factory. Discover where the raw clay was washed to separate the grains of sand from the particles of ochre, then decanted in large basins, drained and the ochre left to dry. Later, cut into bricks, crushed and sifted, it would be classified by colour and quality with the finest set aside for artists’ pigments.

Okhra Écomusée de l’ocre (website)
570 route d’Apt, D104
84220 Roussillon
Open daily from February 1 – December 31
Guided tours in English, French, German and Italian
Telephone +33 (0)4 90 05 66 69

Colorado Provencal Rustrel Luberon

Colorado Provencal: The other side of Apt, the Colorado Provencal is an area of bright, ochre-rich rock, mined by ‘ocriers’ for its pigments from 1871 late 20th century. Also known as the Colorado de Rustrel, the area is one of 60 geosites protected under the Luberon Regional Nature Park, UNESCO Global Geopark.

Walking trails meander through the forest and among the “fairy chimneys” (ochre towers). The Colorado Provençal is a magical natural site, with cliffs of varying hues from snow-white to bright orange.

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Julie Whitmarsh

Julie Whitmarsh

Julie and her husband Andy started visiting the Vaucluse area 25 years ago & over the years have increased the amount of time they spend there with their growing family. She has a deep affection for the area, finding it is a great place to visit, where the whole family can relax and enjoy time together.

She longs for the day when she can ‘up-sticks’ from her home on Dartmoor & relocate to the Luberon and spend her days cycling, walking, visiting markets & brocante fairs and of course enjoying the local food and drink.

Her blog VaucluseDreamer gives her a space to highlight some of her favourite things about the area from places to visit to particular activities that she and her family all enjoy.

She hopes one day it will be a place where she can share the process of renovating a house in France, but at the moment that will have to wait.

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