Ochre in the Apt area, an industrial adventure.

The French ochre industry in the Vaucluse has always exported most of its production all over the world. Known since antiquity, the yellow or red ochre is a mineral pigment with a more or less pronounced colour according to its iron oxide content. Yellow and red ochres have a wide range of colours from lemon yellow to tobacco brown through golden yellow. The red tones can vary according to the type of soil, and can also be modified by calcination (Burnt Umber for example).

Ochres are used for many purposes. They are used in colouring paint, interior or exterior distemper, on wood, iron, walls and in underwater paint. Ochre is also used in manufacturing lino, oilcloth, sealing wax, wax polish, putty, wallpaper, wrapping paper, cardboard, ceramic tiles, and in various chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The ochre in the Apt area is found between the Monts de Vaucluse to the north and the Luberon mountain to the south.

Just outside the village of Rustrel, 10 km from Apt, there is a paradise of ochre quarries, the Colorado of Provence that since extraction was stopped has become one of the most renowned landscapes visited by European tourists.

The ochre deposits here were always extracted by hand by small independent producers. The Rustrel ochre quarries, open-cast or tunnels, confirmed the dominant features of this marvellous landscape to which the infinite variety of shapes and colours gives its originality.

It is in this place that the most beautiful ‘Fairy Chimneys’ can be found, ringed by hills with sumptuous colours from the purest white to the darkest of reds. A fairy landscape indeed, shaped by the hand of the ochre workers and surrounded by equally exceptional vegetation.

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