Roussillon was less than three miles from our cozy rental house, close enough to dash to the boulangerie for baguettes and walk along the edge of the narrow road to absorb the vivid colors of the ocher cliffs in the morning light. We followed this pattern for a few days, turning the car home and departing the stunning, picturesque village for another day, leaving the russet red gift unopened, saving the beauty on the hill for later, like a luscious bon-bon.Reminding Jim of this tempting tidbit one morning, I said, “Put on your walking shoes. I say, Old Boy, we are off to Roussillon!” Jim puffed out his chest and uttered aggrieved noises sounding offended and wounded: “What do you mean? Old?!!” Innocently, I said in my sweetest voice, “Oh, that. I just picked it up from the Brit movies we’ve watched since we discovered Net Flix in France. It’s just an expression. It means nothing. No reason for you to get all puffed up.” He smiled like I had soothed his ego and leaned close to put an arm around me before he replied: “Then, I can call you old girl?” Moving away from his grasp to the front door, I said, “Not on your life!”I was on my way to cross off another of the Plus Beaux Villages on my bucket list. Russet red tints every part of the village which derives its name from the Latin name of Viscus Russulus (the red hill). The dust from the astounding ocher cliffs on which the village stands is the source of the vivid color. Roussillon is situated in the heart of the biggest ochre deposit in Europe. Imagine living next door to the canyons of Colorado and Arizona, and you have the picture. The lush, deep greens of the pine trees accentuate the reds, yellows and oranges of the rock formations and cypress trees punctuate the narrow streets and squares. Most of the buildings would be quite plain, but they are made beautiful with the incredible, flaming colors, like something from an artist’s palette. The Provencal blue sky and the magical quality of light lure artists now and many from the past: Jean Cocteau, Carzou, Buffet and others. The village with only a little over a thousand of population has several art galleries and studios to discover and many excellent restaurants with incredible views to remember for a lifetime.
Don’t miss the ice cream with colors to match the palette of the buildings. I loved, loved the lavender ice cream. I wish I had some now to help conjure my memories of this remarkable town.
Samuel Beckett, the Irish author, took refuge here during the Second World War. Apparently, the boredom of village life drove Beckett to a nervous breakdown according to one reference that I found. Another famous visitor, American sociologist Laurence Wylie wrote about the rural French life in Village in the Vaucluse (1957). I read a large portion of the book before we went to France, but I have apparently lost it. I thought I would regal you with the history from that period compared to my childhood during the fifties. Oh well, you are spared that reminiscence.I thought these facts were amazing. The first record of the town was in 989 – de Rossillione. Many Neolithic signs and artifacts have been discovered here, and the site is now an important archaeological reserve. There are signs of the Roman occupation of Roussillon when they were mining ocher from the hills.The village is small enough that most guide books say it will take only an hour to explore. We had the privilege of seeing this jewel on the hill almost every day while we were in France for our autumn visit. Yet, there are still places I want to explore.The house above was an adorable place for a photo. I am not fond of having my picture taken, but Roussillon was too beautiful not to pose here and there. Forgive me for sticking my face in the scene so often.
We settled by the fire in the living room in the evening after another delicious dinner. I had the sofa to myself with a cushy woven throw over my legs. Jim had a big chair with an ottoman so he could stretch out and warm away the aches from our climb to the summit of Roussillon. I asked the Lord of the Manoir Ambrous, “Do you want to watch another segment of Monarch of the Glen, the show about the family in a Scottish castle? I know it’s old, but I like the series since it is sweet, innocent and funny.” From the side of the room with the recliner, I heard Jim say, “Just like me, huh?”
I hope you return again for Roussillon Part II. This location with so many superlatives was impossible to include in one blog story. Next time, I hope to include more on the jagged cliffs of ocher beside the village.Thank you for your kind support. I hope I find Wylie’s book for more interesting reading. Consider another interesting read: “A French Opportunity”
Each purchase helps this starving writer. Why not suggest it to a friend? I do hope you are fine, healthy and happy.
If you are new to the blog, perhaps you would enjoy reading about another colorful town with brilliant reddish hues, just CLICK to read: “Black and White, Plus Red“