We’re all familiar with the amazing photogenic Far-West landscapes that have given the Luberon its reputation. But since the health crisis, the rise in the number of people visiting during the summer is threatening to erode its spectacular hilly areas, so since last year the organisation that manages the site has set up an online booking system which was activated as early as May this year.
The ochres of Luberon
After the ochres of Luberon contributed to the industrial wealth of Provence in the 19th and 20th centuries, today they can be explored as a fascinating visual and also historical heritage. The most popular remains Roussillon village, known for its brightly-coloured façades and the ochre trail you get to directly from the village (paid access).
Ôkhra, the enthralling ochre ecomuseum, with its wide selection of activities, workshops and high quality exhibitions, the Mines de Bruoux in Gargas, vast cathedrals of ochre (also by booking only), and finally, the Provençal Colorado, at Rustrel.
The Provençal Colorado
It has been possible to visit this former ochre quarry site for a long time, so long as you parked in the authorised car park (pay and display).
Visitors had the choice of two itineraries according to time available and how fit they are, and adults and children could be seen climbing over the ochre dunes scattered around the site.
Since the health crisis and the need for natural spaces it has heightened, the Provencal Colorado has recorded a clear increase in summer visitor numbers. This dangerously increases its erosion and makes the visit less comfortable.
New visit conditions
Did you know ?
Motorbikes and bicycles can access the site without booking from 8am to 7pm within the limits of the maximum number of visitors being respected.
The first step was to forbid access to the dunes, in order to protect them, then the decision was taken the summer 2022 to implement a booking system, like that used for the Marseille Calanques.
In 2023 and starting as early as May, the site can be accessed from 8am to 1pm only if you have previously booked a parking space online. The calendar is opened the evening before at 6pm for the following day, depending on the Prefecture’s fire risk bulletin. Unreserved access is still possible from 1pm and payment can be made at the ticket office upon arrival (from 1 to 7pm in July and August).
Last year, this measure made it possible to manage visitor flows by spreading it out throughout the day. It also improved visitor experience, as well as road safety by preventing chaotic parking along the access routes. And last but not least, it makes everyone safer as the Colorado features among the forest massifs that are subject to fire risks, with sudden evacuation being needed.
Get information before visiting
In order to guide visitors, a procedure has been implemented in order to give them the best information before their visit.
The website www.coloradoprovençal.fr and a voice server give them real time information about how many people are visiting the Provencal Colorado.
As a final measure, road signs indicate if the site is temporarily closed due to saturation or fire risks. By booking online, visitors are informed of these closures by text messages the day before their visit.
A team of protection agents are on site throughout the summer to inform visitors, but also to ensure that the indications for preserving the site are respected.
A mobile app about the historical and geological past
Booking online gives access to a richly illustrated app that supplies all information to understand the site’s history, its geology and environmental richness throughout the circuit.
Credit ©M. Planque, A. Hocquel, T. Verneuil, G. Kessler, Lezbroz, M. Coquard, Oiseau Rose