Rustrel is a small, sober and discreet village nestling on a hillside and watched over by a beautiful 17th century castle that today houses the town hall.
Situated in the heart of the village, a "blood mill”, that is to say an olive oil mill powered by animals, operated up until the 1930s. The presses, the capstan, the filter and the cauldron can still be seen, presented in the state in which they would have been found at the time.
But olive oil is not the only nectar produced in Rustrel; here they also make Côtes du Ventoux wines. In addition, for connoisseurs, the town has truffle fields in which the delectable black truffles grow.
The Chateau of Rustrel
Rustrel is truly worth a visit for its ochre cliffs called the Colorado Provençal. In the past, Rustrel was an important centre of ochre production and the exploitation of the quarries has sculpted magnificent landscapes. Today, people come to marvel at the colours and the shapes.
In the heart of a mining and metallurgic district, Rustrel also had two steel foundries. Two high furnaces still testify to this past activity.
In the present day, Rustrel proves itself to be just as industrious: this small town is home to the Low-Noise Underground Laboratory. Once the n°1 firing station for the Strategic Land Ballistic Missile system of the Albion Plateau, after 25 years of service it was converted into a multidisciplinary science laboratory. The laboratory can be visited on Heritage Days (check the dates with the local tourist office).
In the area around the village of Rustrel you can visit
- the Notre-Dame-des-Anges Church and the ruins of its hermitage. Already a chapel before 1600, it was enlarged and altered in 1660.
- the Saint-Julien Priory, which dates from the 11the century, can be found on the route to Apt. Its apse has the particularity of being semi-circular inside and pentagonal outside.
- the Couloubrier aqueduct from the late 18th or early 19th century. Built of cut stone on posts and low walls, it channeled the runoff waters on this fragile land towards a mill.
Horse riding in the Colorado Provençal of Rustrel
Gignac, right nearby, is a minuscule hilltop village of 48 inhabitants. Set at 450 metres altitude and dominated by its castle, it is the smallest village in the Vaucluse. Time seems to have stood still here; no shops, restaurants or hotels have opened. Visiting the village promises you exceptional views over the surrounding sites and also lets you retrace its history through the streets' names, chosen based on popular memory. You will see, for example, “La Jupière” or Skirt-maker because at that spot the heavy winds would lift the ladies' skirts…
Gignac was left untouched by the Wars of Religion in the 16th century and the visitor can still see the vestiges of its past, such as the fortifications, its 12th century Romanesque church with a semi-circular apse, an old windmill, houses with towers, a washhouse and its castle. The Château de Gignac was built between 1760 and 1780. The edifice, its courtyard, its terraces, the outer stairway as well as the fireplaces and interior décor have been listed as historic monuments.
Situated along the Ochre Road, Gignac invites you for walks right in nature where the contrast between the ochre of the Colorado Provençal and the blue of the neighbouring lavender fields lies before you for the pleasure of the eyes.