Friday, 15 June 2012

France 4 - Castles and Ochre sands-Lourmarin and Roussillon

An hour and a half drive from Martigues, through vineyards and poppy fields, the winding roads take us via Lourmarin where we decide to stop to visit a castle close to the road. The castle was built in the 15th-16th century, but fell into ruins and in 1921 was bought and restaured by a rich manufacturer from Lyon - Robert Laurent-Vibert. He then died in a car accident in 1925 and the castle was donated in his will to the "Académie des Belles Lettres d'Aix", so that a cultural and artistic centre could be created.
Nowadays it can be visited daily and there are some scheduled concerts and art shows.
I was impressed that they had an English flyer to aid the visit and in each room there were also English and German explanations regarding the style and furniture in each room.
The area is knows as the home of a famous British writer - Peter Mayle.
One of his books "A year in Provence" was made into a tv series and a film. This was about a British expatriate who settled in Ménerbes (about 14km away). Another of his books "A good year" starring Russell Crowe, was also filmed nearby, and as a result these villages which were in the lesser known parts of Provence, have now became better known in the English speaking world.
This village is also part of the prettiest 200 villages in France.
Lourmarin Castle and lovely garden

The courtyard. To the left on this floor is a library

After our visit we were on our way to Roussillon, 25 km away. On the way a few fruit vendors had stands along the roads and we stopped to buy cherries! They were delicious and my daughter and I ate almost the whole container.

Who could have imagined France also had a region with red soil, just like the northern areas of Australia?
The only difference is - Australia doen't have a cute village like Roussilon.
The village of Roussillon, one of the 200 prettiest villages of France, is situated in the heart of one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world.
All around abound red cliffs in various tonalities, the houses and roofs also in the same tones. You can pay 2€ and walk around the former quarry on a short or long trail.
Then walk around the village, climb up to the walled fortress area where you can see some cute houses, plenty of restaurants and some very interesting shops. If you are a painter, you can buy paint pigments in various colours made from the red earth.

The fortress walls in Roussillon
A very narrow staircase to the clock tower
A quaint shop and house within the fortress walls
View from the fortress
Certainly a worthwhile visit!
So if you are in this area of Provence take a drive to these cute villages...and if you go in summer make sure you buy some fresh cherries or strawberries from the fruit vendors, so delicious...


  1. So much character Sami. I'm loving what I see.

  2. OMG, after these photos, I want to go to Roussillon! Great, great photos and the place is fantastic!
    I will look for the film with Russel Crowe. Now I'm curious and I like him very much.

  3. It was quite an unexpected village with the red soil.
    I must check out these movies to, as I don´t think I´ve seen either of them.

  4. Hi Sami,
    Just wanted to point out that caption for the picture of you in front of the chateau is in Lourmarin, not Roussillon. I know, because I have a vacation home in Lourmarin, also one of the most beautiful villages in France. Can't wait to get back!

  5. Thanks Francaise - I hadn´t noticed I had put the wrong caption. How lucky you are to have a vacation home in such a beautiful village. Enjoy it, I´m jealous!!


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