25 May 2011

i'm on another planet

my dream home!

I may not be an expert of French provincial towns, but it does not take an expert to realize that today I visited one of the most beautiful towns in France (dare I say the world?) After spending the morning exploring old ruins, savoring delicious wines, and licking la glace, our shaky little Skoda pulled into the dusty parking lot of the village.  I must admit that the enthusiasm for more exploring and hiking was not there, but after forcing my tired legs to begin the walk up the chalky cobblestone streets, I fell in love with Roussillon.

Like many towns in the south of France, Roussillon has been inhabited since Neolithic times and is full of beautiful architecture and a rich history.  What makes this village stand out from the others is the Ochre mines below the town.  Huge rock formations (reminiscent of Bryce Canyon in Utah) emerge from the landscape in a myriad of colors and make you feel as if Le Petit Prince has whisked you away to another planet.

Artists still use the ochres harvested from these mines to create rich pigments that are processed to make watercolors, oils, and other paints.  Hikers beware though, the clay-like earth definitely doesn't need to be processed to stain-  I ran some powder through my hands and had orange fingertips for the rest of the afternoon!  

Walking through the streets of Rouisson you can see the natural colors reflected on the crooked walls and shutters.  Little kitties roam the streets and bumblebees land on the colorful window boxes.  Art galleries welcome in visitors with an open door, and friends sit together at cafés and chat over a glass du vin.  A charming Southern French village, mixed with breath-taking natural beauty definitely puts Rouisson on my list of the crème de la crème!

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