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Cycling the Ochre Region from Roussillon

A stunning route through the Luberon National Park

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This ride is bursting with colour and vibrant views; starting off in the pretty little village of Roussillon it passes through the vivid landscape of the Ochre region, an area characterised by its deep red soil and golden wheat fields.

Roussillon itself is classified as one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France” (the most beautiful villages of France).  Its characteristic red hue is caused by iron oxide deposits in the soil, which originated millions of years ago when Provence was entirely under water.

Setting off from the Place de Mairie in Roussillon we push our bikes down the narrow little side street that leads to Rue de la Fontaine, where we can hop on and pedal south, turning right at the post office and then left past the pharmacy. You’ll come out onto Rue de la Poste and turn right to cycle south out of the village. When you reach a fork in the road, follow the right hand turn signposted for Goult.

This gently descending road allows you to enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and the distant hills while not having to put in too much effort as you cruise down towards the village of Goult. The D104 is quiet, scenic and sometimes shaded by trees that line the roadside. After about 5-6km you’ll come to a mini-roundabout; take the exit signposted D105 to Goult. When you come to the outskirts of the village follow the Rue de la Fontaine (yep, another one) to reach the village centre. There is a large 17th century chateau in the centre as well as a number of sunny squares with cafes and bars where you can enjoy a refreshment stop.

Our next point of reference is Lumieres, so follow the lively Rue de la Republique south out of Goult to pick up the D105 again. Go straight on at the roundabout and leave the village behind as you pass through a rural residential area, with farmers fields and country estates all around. You’ll come to a T-junction where you turn left towards Lumieres and then shortly after right to cross a bridge. Lumieres is a quiet but charming little place with a few nice cafes and shops; there are a couple of wine cellars where you can pick up some samples of the local appellation.

In no time at all you’ve have cycling right through the village and come out at a junction. Turn left onto the sometimes rather busy D900 in the direction of Apt and at the next junction turn right onto the D106; look out for the left hand turnoff for the Veloroute du Cavaillon, a dedicated cycle path alongside the river of the same name.

After about 5km of easy and very scenic riding we reach Pont Julien, where you’ll see an impressive stone bridge built by the Romans in 3BC. Turn left at the bridge and follow the end of the cycle path to where it meets the D108. Continue until you come to a junction and turn right to follow the D900 in the direction of Apt. You don’t stay on the main road for very long, so keep an eye out for the first turning on your left and take this smaller road towards La Coquillade, following the road round as it bends right then left to meet Route de la Tarachole. The landscape opens out with vineyards and olive groves stretching out on either side of the road. Continue straight on until the road splits and take the left turn along the appropriately named Route Panoramique.

When the road meets the D104 once more, turn left and head towards Les Ferriers, which is not so much a village as a smattering of farm buildings and houses. Continue along this road until you come to the D105 which will take you back to where you started in the centre of Roussillon.

The whole ride is about 22km long and fairly level, with the height difference between the highest and lowest points being barely 150m. It is very scenic and mostly takes in quiet country roads with a good surface. There are plenty of picnic spots along the way and many opportunities to visit vineyards and wine cellars.

Worth knowing

Rousillon has a weekly market on Thursday mornings, where you can pick up a few tasty treats for the ride ahead.

What to see

If you have time to go for a little hike then look out for the Sentier des Ocres trail near Rousillon. Two loops, each taking between 30 to 60 minutes, guide you through the forest and round a former ochre quarry.

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Where to lunch

Lumieres is a little under halfway round and has a small collection of cafes and pizzerias where you can sit outside and enjoy a bite to eat. Goult has a greater range of eateries, including the bustling and very French Café de la Poste in the village centre.

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Stats

  • Route
  • Distance: 22km

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