Situated on the sublime Ochre Chain in the heart of the Luberon Regional Nature Park in the Vaucluse, the commune of Gargas is 44 kilometres from Avignon and only 4 kilometres from Apt.
Gargas is in fact made up of some thirty hamlets. Once a fortified hilltop village, during the Wars of Religion the ramparts and fort were destroyed and the townspeople regrouped in the hamlets on the plain below. Even though some vestiges remain of a castle tower and the 13th century chapel, the town centre is mostly utilitarian, with all necessary shops and businesses, and even quite pleasant with its big square, fountain and restaurant terrace. At the foot of the hill, you can admire the very pretty 17th century Saint-Denis Church.
Gargas, villag ein the heart of the Luberon
Fountain of the Town Hall
The Saint-Denis Church
But the real particularity of Gargas lies in its ochre, which is everywhere. The town can pride itself on being the last place that still extracts ochre from the quarries carved out of the forest-covered hills.
A stop at the Mines de Bruoux is a must. Unique and mysterious, these mines constitute a monument to the exploitation of ochre, a veritable cathedral of colour sculpted by the ochre workers. 650 metres of labyrinthine galleries have been opened for accompanied and commented tours.
Besides its dazzling ochre, Gargas shines by another light. The Lustrerie Mathieu creates and restores some of the most beautiful chandeliers in the world, coming from such prestigious places as the Palace of Versailles and the Palazzo Farnese. In addition to the workshop, one wing houses an impressive collection of 250 chandeliers from the 15th century to the present plus a library devoted to the world of lights, decoration and architecture.
Before leaving Gargas don't forget to taste some of its specialties such as its AOC Côtes-du-Luberon and Côtes-du-Ventoux wines and its jams and candied fruit, already served in the 17th century at the court of Louis XIV the Sun King.
In the area around Gargas:
To continue your ochre experience, the GR6 hiking trail passes through Gargas and crosses the ochre hills of La Gardette and Perréal leading you to Roussillon (5 km), one of the most beautiful villages of France, and its Ochre and Applied Pigments Conservatory.
The Mines de Bruoux
The Lustrerie Mathieu