Monday, September 27, 2010

The Source and the ocher cliffs

Alan has been working hard to prepare his lecture on Parisian photographers as part of his TA work for one of the classes, leaving Mom, Dad, and me to pick a place to go in the morning from Alan’s already-been-or-will-be-going-for-class list. We chose Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, which you might remember was the starting point of our hike a while back. This time we took the much shorter and gentler walk to the Source (it sounds so mythical!). Rick Steve’s guidebook calls it “the most overrated sight in France” when the spring is not running… and it wasn’t from the main, most impressive opening. Its depth from this opening has never been accurately measured, with the last recorded depth being 1,034ft. But it was easy to imagine the huge gush of water that would come out of that opening during the spring floods! I wish we could see it then.

The Sorgue River (below the Source)
The Source - when flowing it gushes out of
that cavern all the way to the trees
in from of my parents!
Multiple smaller openings gush into the river farther down, and while there is only one wheel here compared to the eight in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue the river rushes along with plenty of force. This wheel is now part of a paper mills museum (with more gift shop than information). We decided not to go to the Petrarch museum (he lived here for 16 years), but did stop at a neat aqueduct on the way out of town. I don’t know anything about it, but it looks cool!
Paper mill run by a waterwheel
Random aqueduct
Taking the guidebook’s suggestion, we set out late in the afternoon for the town of Roussillon. All the houses are colored orange by the residents’ use of ocher from the cliffs that surround the village. A range of colors comes from the cliffs, and others can be achieved through the baking and drying processes. Ocher in oranges, yellows, reds, and green were sold in packets all over the town (as were other non-natural but still organic colors made by adding other minerals). I was very tempted to buy some, but I don’t know what I would do with it! Alan was trying to think if he could use it as part of a printing process, but couldn’t figure it out just then. Luckily if we want to go back Roussillon is not far away.

After walking around the town, we went on the Sentier des Ocres, a sign-posted walk through the cliffs. We were tempted to pick up some of the colorful dirt, but signs discouraged us (and everyone else) by noting that it has to be washed and processed to be of any use. Instead we just enjoyed the evening light glowing warmly on the brightly colored landscape.

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