The ochre trails of Mormoiron

A Mormoiron walk posted on 01/05/15 by slinky. Update : 11/12/17

Take a walk between Mormoiron and Villes-sur-Auzon on the trails of old ochre quarries.

Technical sheet
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h45[?]
Distance Distance : 6.85mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 817ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 804ft
Highest point Highest point : 1224ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 787ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Monts de Vaucluse
Location Location : Mormoiron (84570)
Starting point Starting point : N 44.070526° / E 5.195191°


Starts at the Salettes lake car park in Mormoiron.

(D) From the first car park, walk to the shore of the lake and follow the marked path to the left (south-east). The path passes in front of the main car park in the direction of the aerial adventure park.

’’Yellow Markings''
At the end of the lake, ignore a path to the right and, immediately after this, take the access path to the Parc Ventoux Adventure to the right. This sandy path leads uphill through the ochre trails of the Vallat de Marquetton and the various aerial adventure park circuits.
The path narrows, continue past a left turn and continue uphill following the markings. The path climbs more steeply and passes through trenches carved by gulleys opening out onto a small plateau.

(1) Turn left on the level path. Pass by a path to a cottage 100 m on the left and follow the main path, ignoring several left and right turns.
At a junction, turn 90° to the right (south) with a cottage on your right-hand side. The path becomes a tarmac road and continues down among vineyards, and cherry and olive trees.

(2) At the junction with another road, continue to the left and continue downhill on the tarmac. 500 m further on, at T-junction, take the road on the left. It makes two successive s-shaped turns, passes around two ruined shacks among the vineyards and then becomes a dirt path.

’’No Markings''
(3) Head to the left just before the turn onto a small sand trail. 100 m further on, at a fork in the road, head to the right through the very wild and picturesque Ravin des Sitos gulleys, from which ochre was once quarried. Continue for a while along the narrow ravines and then head back to the marked trail among the vineyards.

’’Yellow Markings''
(3) Return to the path on the left which continues through the vineyards and leads down into the woods. Stay on the main path and ignore those leading to the left and right. Join at a fork located at the point where the sand of the path turns from brick-red to beige.

’’Green Markings''
(4) Veer to the left along a smaller path, then turn left again at the following junction to come to an old digging site. Don’t hesitate to go back and forth among the old quarries or caves dug into the sides of the ravines.
The path follows the sides of the ravine for a time, turning to the right (south-east) and then turns back heading north-east. Keep a vineyard on your right, and at its end, head left into the woods. Again, don’t be afraid to take the time to explore the many ways into the old quarries, but always come back to the marked path.
Continue along the path in a north-easterly direction which will slowly turn to the left (north). It climbs steeply to end on a plateau at a larger quarry at a hairpin bend.

’’No markings or old, unreliable markings''
(5) Continue ahead on the tarmac road. 300 m onwards, the road surface changes at the junction with a path; follow the road ahead up to the next crossroads with another road. Enjoy the views over Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail.

(6) Cross the road and follow the trail heading downhill to the right. 200 m onwards it cuts across a road and continues to the right into the woods. Shortly after an olive grove, the path forks to the left (north-west). 50 m further on, leave the path which heads off to the right (not marked on the map) and head left along a poorly-marked path which crosses a clearing and heads to the right to meet a crossroads.

(7) Continue to the left on the path which leads to the hamlet of Les Sourds. Just before the first house, take the right fork of the path to head down into the woods. A little lower down, pass by a path to the right and continue along the path to the left.
Approximately 400 m further on the path will join with another coming from the right and continue south-west along and above the vineyards.

(8) At the junction with a wide path, head to the right. The path will then turn to the left around a water reservoir. After the cherry orchard, walk past the path to the right and continue to the left (West). Pass in front of Les Rassades and on to a good sandy path.
Continue past two (poorly marked) paths to the left and take the following left at the fork in the path.

(9) At the junction, take the left fork to come upon an old quarry. Here again there is an opportunity to go back and forth through this old ochre digging site reclaimed by nature.
Continue past two paths to the left, then follow the outskirts of the site on the main path heading uphill (west-north-west). When the path arrives above the quarry, it turns sharply to the left and climbs a further 50 m.

(10) Leave the trail taking a sharp left on a small path downwards into the woods. It runs along a lovely ochre cliff and then meets with a trail at a junction. Take a right to meet a road 200 m further on at a bend. Continue to the right along the road until the next junction.
Turn left to arrive at the car park where the walk began.

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. mi 0
1 : mi 0.52 - alt. mi 0.52 - Turn left across the plateau
2 : mi 1.63 - alt. mi 1.63 - Turn left on the road
3 : mi 2.12 - alt. mi 2.12 - Turn left towards the gulleys of the Ravin des Sit
4 : mi 2.85 - alt. mi 2.85 - Turn left at the Green markings
5 : mi 3.46 - alt. mi 3.46 - Continue ahead on the road
6 : mi 4.09 - alt. mi 4.09 - Turn right on the path
7 : mi 4.75 - alt. mi 4.75 - Turn left on the path
8 : mi 5.36 - alt. mi 5.36 - Turn right on the path
9 : mi 5.89 - alt. mi 5.89 - Turn left towards the old quarry
10 : mi 6.15 - alt. mi 6.15 - Turn left across the path
D/A : mi 6.85 - alt. mi 6.85

Useful Information

Several access paths to former ochre digging sites are scattered along the route, don’t be afraid to leave the marked path for a while to explore them.
Bring a torch to see inside the caves.

Some paths, in particular between (4) and (5), and then between (6) and (8) do not appear on the map, but are there on the ground.

We advise taking IGN maps with you on this walk. Click here to buy : 3140ETR.

Click here to see how to reach the starting point.

Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

Download sheet and map

During the walk or to do/see around

Salettes lake, supervised swimming (seasonal).
Aerial adventure park circuit.

The Sablon ochre mineral deposits were extracted by the Malavard company from Villes-sur-Auzon between 1887 and 1928. The "Compagnie des Ocres Française" (The French Ochre Company) then took over the quarrying until 1967.
The soils here are 90% sand and 10% ochre. This means that they are less rich in deposits than those of Roussillon or Gargas.

However, this site is unique in that it has supposedly kept all the vestiges of the full chain of the ochre extraction process. I haven’t found all of these yet, maybe you will have more luck than I did...

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.