Sunday, December 13, 2009

Visiting the Area Around Apt - Roussillon

My plan had been to rent bicycles and bike around the area, but when they turned out to be about $27 a day ($54 for two of us), renting a car suddenly seemed like a good idea, at least for a few days. Yes, we hitch-hiked up to our rental, but we always found that we need to get out into the less inhabited part of the town before we could get a ride. So it was quite an effort to get the groceries home for the first couple of days.

So off we went, without much of a map. No worries, I had Rory to navigate. Or is navigating really his speciality? Luckily there are so many ways to get to any given town, unlike in our very sparsely populated country (Canada), that if you miss one turn here, there are about half a dozen more that you can take!

The first stop was Gargas. A very small town with these gorgeous lamp-posts. What a great way to set a town apart from the rest! They mine yellow ochre here, so I guess that is why the lamps are yellow.

They had also just finished pruning the beech (?) trees. We couldn't figure out why, especially as it was well before leaf-drop in early October. All I can think is that it was easier to prune with the leaves on, as they remain stuck to the branches and don't need to be raked up later. I hope they shredded the material. I am not sure that they are very progressive in that regard in Europe, as we found out at the lavendar museum.

We were almost at Roussillon, a town famous for its red earth which has been mined for pigment for paints. I was astonished to see the fields above.

This area has some outstanding colour!! This was in the countryside.

This was in the town. I wonder what was behind that door....

I loved the stone walls. This was unique in that there was no red here.

 Lots of red here! In the late afternoon the colours take on a purplish hue.

Rousillon has received the honour of being called one of the most beautiful villages in France.

I have had a life-long love of narrow streets.

"Conservatoire des Ocres et des Pigments Appliqués" - A museum dedicated to the pigments that have been mined here for centuries. Now synthetic pigments have taken over and very little mining is still done. However it is possible to buy the pigments, which I couldn't resist doing.

Roussillon has ochre mines nearby, where variations of red, yellow and brown are found. Below is some of equipment that was used in the mining process. For the workers, it meant a short life, as breathing in the dust was bad for the lungs.

 Below is an art installation, with textiles dyed with the pigments.

 Lovely countryside as we left Roussillon. Looks like olive trees.
The area was  lovely and the town was beautiful. And to think I almost crossed it off the list of places to visit!

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