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Roussillon

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Roussillon is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France.Roussillon lies within the borders of the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon. In the French natural regional parks, new economic activities may be developed only if they are sustainable.It is noted for its large ochre deposits found in the clay surrounding the village. Ochres are pigments ranging from yellow and orange to red. One of the former ochre quarries can be visited via the 'Sentier des Ocres' (Ochre Path), a walk of either 30 or 60 minutes through the old workings.GeographyThe village stands on an ochre ridge, situated in a broad valley with the 'Monts du Vaucluse' to the north and the 'Petit' Luberon to the south. The nearest railway station is in Cavaillon; the nearest TGV station is in Avignon.The river Calavon forms part of the commune's southern border.GeologyRoussillon is famous for the rich deposits of ochre pigments found in the clay near the village. The large quarries of Roussillon were mined from the end of the 18th century until 1930. Thousands of people found work in the quarries and factories. Nowadays the mining of ochre is prohibited here, in order to protect the sites from degradation or even complete destruction.Mining ochreBecause during the 18th century the demand rose for pigments to be used in the textile industry, the mining of ochres in Roussillon intensified. Numerous quarries and ochre factories, some of which can still be seen today, were situated near the village. One example of an ochre factory, the 'Usine Mathieu', is named for the family that owned it from 1870 to 1901. It has been formed into a 'Conservatoire': a workshop serving as a museum. The quarries and factories were established in the villages of Roussillon, Villars, Gargas, Rustrel (with its Colorado provençal) and Gignac.
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