The port of Marseille was our first stop on a 10-day European cruise aboard Carnival’s new ship, Vista. It was the port my teenage daughter had been most looking forward to during the entire trip, as she had chosen the day’s family adventure: a boat trip to the Calanques. When we found out the night before the tour had been cancelled, we rolled with the punches and went with plan B, a trip to the village of Roussillon in the Luberon. This area had big shoes to fill, and it did not disappoint.
Roussillon has all the charms of Provence one would expect, but with scenery that takes most first-time visitors by surprise. Instead of rows of lavender, cliffs streaked with red, orange and gold set the stage for a trip to Le Sentier des Ocres, one of Provence’s best-kept secrets. The former open-pit ochre quarry looks like a giant sandbox filled with gold, and makes for an easy but stunning 30- to 60-minute walk any time of day. Stop to take in the view from the overlook above before taking the stairs down into the heart of the ochre pit.
A natural pigment, the ochre is similar in texture to sand. But unlike sand, it tends to stick to everything it touches, so expect dusty hands and clothes. Be sure to save some time to do a little bit of wandering in the town of Roussillon after exploring the quarry. The picturesque village of Gordes is just a short drive away and makes for a nice stop for gelato on a warm afternoon.
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Editor’s Note: Photo by Dana Rebmann.