Provençal Colorado of Rustrel

The Luberon Regional Natural Park is appreciated for its preserved landscapes and its perched villages with authentic charm. But this unique territory in the south of France conceals another treasure unique in Europe: ocher deposits with enchanting, almost unreal colors, in the middle of the Provencal vegetation, wooded hills and immaculate blue skies. A visit to the Colorado of Rustrel is unforgettable.

Ochers in the Luberon

Ochers are ferric rocks made of clay and containing natural mineral pigments with grains of sand. Offering spectacular colors, ochers have been used since prehistoric times for cultic purposes, before being used to produce paints and dyes for the fashion or construction industry.

The ocher extraction industry developed in the Luberon and throughout the country from the end of the XVIIth century, thanks to the work of Jean-Étienne Astier from Roussillon. It underwent a strong development in Roussillon and Rustrel from the end of the XIXth century, the arrival of the railway in Apt. The Colorado ocher mines of Rustrel were exploited until 1992, before becoming a major tourist attraction in the south of France.

Hiking in the middle of ochers

Hiking is certainly the best way to enjoy the almost mystical beauty of Rustrel’s Colorado. The cliffs sculpt phantasmagorical shapes, highlighted by warm colors with subtle shades, ranging from white to bright reds and oranges, which can’t be found anywhere else.

The GR®6 hiking trail, which connects the Gironde to the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, passes through the Colorado Provencal. You can take it for a few kilometers to admire the unique geological formations such as chimneys, result of the work of man and nature.

On the map IGN 3242OT (Apt, Regional Natural Park of the Luberon) you will find many paths and trails. You can also buy a hiking guide.

The circuits of the Provençal Colorado

Several circuits offer a variety of lengths and difficulties, for a family outing or a more demanding hike. You can follow a loop and reach your starting point.

The Sahara circuit is an emblematic loop walk adapted to everyone. With a length of 2,1 kilometers and no difference in altitude, this circuit allows you to easily admire the most characteristic geological formations. A guaranteed change of scenery for beautiful pictures.

The Belvederes circuit overlooks the entire Colorado Provençal region and offers breathtaking views. It is a great way to discover the different sites and geological formations. With a length of 3,9 kilometers and a difference in altitude of 70 meters, the marked and developed trail remains accessible to all levels.

The climate of the Luberon can be hot and dry in summer. We advise you to bring water, a hat, sunscreen and suitable footwear to make the most of your hike. Don’t forget your camera or your smartphone to take pictures!

Things to see, things to do in the area

The Luberon is known for its many villages of character, some of which are labeled the most beautiful villages in France. You can for example discover the Colorado of Rustrel in one day and visit the village of Banon, Roussillon or Gordes.

Road biking and mountain biking are also famous activities in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. You can take the itinerary of the Véloroute du Luberon, also called Voie Verte du Calavon. It is 37 kilometers long and follows the route of an old railway line. You can also practice many outdoor activities: hiking, climbing, horseback riding…

You will easily find accommodation there by reserving a space or a chalet at a campsite, a hotel room, a bed and breakfast or a vacation rental.

You can visit the Pays d’Apt Luberon Tourist Office website to discover other ideas of visits or activities.

Practical information

The Provencal Colorado is located in the Vaucluse department, east of the small village of Rustrel and in the heart of the Luberon Regional Natural Park.

From the east of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, the site is accessible by car from the A7 freeway. You can take the exits 24 or 25 toward Apt, that you will drive through before driving toward Rustrel. You can also access the Colorado Provencal from the A51 freeway, exit 21 towards Saint-Étienne-les-Orgues, Banon and then Rustrel.

Parking there is charged. You must also pay an entrance fee if you come on foot or by bicycle. A leaflet with a map and explanations will be given to you. Animals are accepted, provided they are on a leash.

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