This pretty Provençal village is most famous for its ochre quarries, which were soon renamed the Colorado of Provence.
What makes it unique and magnificent are its incredible rock formations, created both by the erosion of time and weathering and by human exploitation. Now you can admire imaginative-looking shapes, with extravagant profiles, columns and pyramids that stand out in wonderful colours.
Like the Roussillon Ochre Trail, the Colorado Provençal also boasts fabulous colour palettes, ranging from pale yellow to bright red, passing through all shades of orange, all framed by the clear blue of the sky and the bright green of the pine forests.
Erosion has contributed enormously to shaping the Colorado Provence: it all began hundreds of millions of years ago, when the Luberon countryside was a sandy region close to the sea. When the waters receded, all that remained was clayey sand extremely rich in iron, and these lands became a natural mineral basin, consisting of various elements such as manganese, silicates and aluminium, the main sources of colouring the ochres of the Luberon.
The exploitation of the natural resources buried in the ground became an important element of industry in the Luberon. Over the centuries, men dug the ground to find pigments, creating the first paths, sculpting them with pickaxes. Nature did the rest, shaping the earth into fairy chimneys and natural pyramids, thanks to the erosion of rain, wind and frost.
The colour palette ranging from yellow to red, the ochre sand paths and the unusual shapes of the chimneys make the place an absolute splendour, truly unique in Europe. It is impossible not to be enchanted by the gradations of red, yellow and white that come together in this enchanting place.
Unlike the Ochre Trail, whose path is specially structured and organised for visitors, the Colorado Provençal is explored via hiking trails. Routes and a map of the Colorado Provençal are provided at the entrance to the site where the trails start. Access is free but parking is charged.
Everyone can choose the circuit best suited to their level of preparation and length. The Sahara circuit is undoubtedly the most popular. Simple and suitable for everyone, it is 2.1 km long, takes about 40 minutes round trip, with only 10 metres difference in altitude.
On the other hand, the Belvedere trail embraces the entire Colorado Provence, giving you a view of the entire area. This walk is more difficult than the previous one, with a greater difference in altitude, but offers a panorama that is worth the effort. Some delicate passages require your attention, as you will walk among roots, stones, steps and stream crossings. The circuit is almost 4 km long for about 1 hour and 45 minutes of walking and an altitude difference of 70 metres.
In any case, it is advisable to wear suitable clothing, high shoes to support your ankles, a hat, sun cream and plenty of water, especially in summer.
Blue and orange arrows, placed on red iron poles, will indicate the correct paths to follow. In fact, it is strictly forbidden to go off the trails. Colorado is a fragile natural heritage, very sensitive to the large influx of visitors: it must be preserved and be extremely respectful. It is also forbidden to go near the chimneys: the rock is extremely friable and therefore dangerous, with the risk of falls and landslides.
There are a few B&Bs and holiday homes in Rustrel; there are not many, but they are characteristic. Alternatively, the most convenient locations for visiting the Provençal Colorado are nearby Apt and Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt.
The most convenient way to get to Rustrel is by car, which you can rent directly at Marseille Airport, should you travel by plane. The airport is only 1.5 hours away from Colorado Provence, while Nice Airport is a 2-hour and 50-minute drive away.
What's the weather at Rustrel and the Colorado Provencal? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Rustrel and the Colorado Provencal for the next few days.
This desert landscape, with its unmistakable yellow and red rock formations, is located in the heart of the Luberon, 20 km from Roussillon.