In the village there is an interesting legend of ocher associated with the governor of this place - Lord Raymond of Avignon, who lived in Roussillon with his wife. Once, the owner went hunting. His pager Guillaume de Cabestan was passionately in love with the lord’s wife. Love story happened between them. When Sirmonde’s husband, Lord Raymond of Avignon, learnt about her infidelity, he plotted to kill Guillaume while hunting. During the hunting he killed the servant and cut out his heart. After returning home Lord ordered to cook heart of the wife’s lover for lunch as the liver. Unsuspecting, Lady Sirmonde tasted the lover's heart. After dinner, Raymond told his wife about the history of the dish, which she ate for lunch. The poor woman could not stand, escaped and in her flight, accidentally fell off the cliffs and died. The legend says that her blood had colored the landscape of Roussillon forever. Since Roussillon slopes received a red color.
Legend is a fiction, of course, but to say that Roussillon related to its past and present with ocher. In ancient times, when the region was a mined ocher, these natural pigments were painted not only the locals’ houses, but their dishes and clothes. With ocher deposits, many people became rich in its development. Over time, the natural dye replaced by cheaper and available analogs as ocher was forced out of the market, and rich life of towns that were near the career began to decline. Since the development of tourism, Roussillon prosperity continues further.
Today Roussillon is considered the most attractive village of Provence and is one of the «Most beautiful villages in France». The beauty of ocher cliffs is a reminiscent of another world natural attraction - the American Grand Canyon. Walk on ocher «Giant's Causeway» will be very interesting to anyone, and in any case doesn’t make the traveler fatigue, because the path is laid along comfortable wooden stairs-decks. There are two routes across the canyon - a short, which takes 30 minutes, and the long - about an hour. Guided tours through colorful valley are quite pleasant and cheap. By the way, if you want you can also visit one more Provence's curiosities - «Colorado Provençal» (Le Colorado Provençal), a Wild Canyon in Rustrel suburb, in 20 km from Roussillon.
Roussillon village is very picturesque, with traditional buildings painted in all the colors of ocher. And special charm added by the contrasting shutters doors and windows painted in bright green, gray or maroon color. The village is very green, especially in the warmer months, with shady trees and shrubs, colorful flowers. Locals mainly engaged in handicrafts, especially ceramics. In the souvenir shop offers fine ceramics - tableware, vases, decorative plates, clay figurines. Typically, workshops where pottery is made are open in these shops. Together with souvenir shops there are some restaurants, which serve delicious authentic dishes of Provencal cuisine and offer fragrant local wine made from local vineyards.
Roussillon is a village with strange narrow streets, houses decorated with wrought iron architectural products - lanterns, door handles, parapets and other artifacts, cozy courtyards. Historical tourism lovers will discover ancient ruins of Roussillon, because its architectural monuments date back to the X century. Forges Square (Place de la Forge) is probably the oldest place in Roussillon, because the castle was built there in 987. Now this place is a panoramic platform from which you see the stunning views of the countryside, the red valley and vineyards, and in summer – of the poppy fields. To get the platforms you can be passed through the gate of the watchtower. In the main square of the village there is City Hall, as usual, the church of Saint Michel, built in the Romanesque era on the edge of the red rocks, with the old cemetery and a small bell tower. Roussillon has its own sundial - a traditional clock for any other villages of Provence, which is located in the bell tower.
Nowadays Roussillon became a real «Mecca» of artists who came here to discover the most beautiful symphony of ocher colors that burn under the scorching sun of Provence. From early April to early November, some art exhibitions and artistic presentations at the Town Hall Square held in the village. This «Martian settlement» leaves no one indifferent. Become one of its lovers. You fall in love with red Roussillon in Provence lavender, be sure!
Outstanding people associated with Roussillon:
- Jean-Étienne Astier – he launched the idea of leaching of ocher to identify pure pigment made famous the village
- René Imbot (1925-2007) - a native of the village, French Army Chief of Staff, General Director of External Security
- Jean Lacouture (1921- 2015) - journalist, historian and writer who last years lived and worked in Roussillon
- World famous writers, actors, journalists, artists, who for some time lived in Roussillon - Jean-Charles Tacchella and Xavier Tacchella, Rufus, Jacques Salomé, etc.
Holidays & Events of Roussillon:
Farmers Market - Thursdays
Flower Festival «Le fête de saint Jean des couleurs» - June
International Festival of string quartets - Summer
Festival «Le festival Beckett» - end of July
Day of the book «La fête du Livre» - early September
Cultural Week - autumn and winter