Site des Orgues
Site des Orgues - the most beautiful geological rock formation in France!
It's called Site des Orgues which translates in English to "Organ Site" as the shapes of the rocks resemble an organ musical instrument.
This is such an incredible place to walk around.. you feel so tiny and insignificant.. and almost like you're about to see a dinosaur walk past (or at least I did)!
There are only 2 other places on the planet (Cappadocia in Turkey and Bryce Canyon in Utah) with similar rock formations so this place is pretty special!
We have been here before.. maybe 8-10 years ago so it was time to go back, with my new camera and my new photography style. Back then, I was snapping photos without really considering composition, editing or anything!
Anyway, I am so thrilled that we finally went back, and it did not disappoint!
Continue reading to find out about prices, opening hours, what to bring and other advice to make this the perfect day trip destination!
History of Site des Orgues
Site des Orgues is a 5 million year old rock formation made from sand and clay. You can see the layers of sediment that was built up over the years with the horizontal stripes across the rocks. However, due to the fragile nature of the rocks, they are eroding. Every time it rains, a tiny bit of this rock formation is being washed away.
It is still standing after millions of years, so obviously it is very gradual, but at some point this will no longer be here.
This type of rock formation is called "Fairy Chimneys" because the top of each spire is made from a harder rock that doesn't erode as quickly, which also protects the softer rock below. The "hat" gradually loses it's foundations and eventually falls off, which leaves the rest of the soft rock spire to erode much quicker.
- €5 per adult to enter the site (Free for children under 10, €3.50 for 10-13 year olds and €4 for 14-18 year olds)
- You can buy tickets at the entrance which closes 1 hour before closing time
- Open all year - except for about 2 weeks for Christmas
- Opening times change depending on the month so check their website for updated information here
- Go around 2 hours before closing for sunset lighting & fewer people
- During Covid times, you need to show either the "Pass Sanitaire", a negative PCR test or a negative antigen test. These tests need to have been done in the previous 72 hours. From Sept 30th 2021, children aged 12-17 will also need to provide proof.
When to visit the Site des Orgues?
I would personally either go first thing in the morning when it opens, or about 2 hours before it closes. We arrived at about 5.15pm and it was great timing as everyone else was leaving as we were arriving.
This meant that we had plenty of space to walk around and enjoy the landscape without kids screaming, people talking and there was no-one blocking the views.
This part of France also gets pretty hot in the middle of the day in the middle of summer, so try to avoid going at midday between 11am and about 2pm as it will just be too hot!
How long does it take to walk around?
It took us around 5-10 mins to walk from the ticket office to the actual site as there is a 800m path to follow. This path is an easy walk with trees to block the harsh sun.
There are some questionable sculptures along the way (you'll know what I mean if you look closely) but otherwise the walk is quite nice.
And it took us less than an hour to walk around the actual site. And that's including taking lots of photographs with 2 different lenses.
There is a bit of an incline once inside the site so this wouldn't be ideal for certain people but it's nothing that the average Joe can't do.
What to bring with you?
I highly recommend you bring a camera with you.. even if it's just your phone! You're going to want to take photographs!
I would also recommend bringing some water with you. Even though you won't be walking around for hours & hours, it does get hot in the South of France. There are snacks, drinks & ice creams available at the shop so don't panic if you forget!
Sensible shoes might be another suggestion.. I wore flip flops and they weren't ideal for the sandy/rocky terrain.
Depending on the time of year that you come and the time of day, you might also want to pack some suncream so that you don't burn in the sun!
I recommend bringing a "big" camera with you if you have one. This is an amazing spot for wide angle photographs of the whole scenery but also close up photographs of the colours & textures.
I personally loved taking photographs at all different focal lengths to get a range of photographs that show off this beautiful place.
In terms of editing, I created a preset which you can buy here from Etsy. I made the rocks slightly warmer and more pink toned to really show off the gorgeous tones of the rock formations. But in reality they are slightly more yellow toned.
If you have questions about how to download and use Lightroom Presets bought from Etsy, see this blog post where I explain how it works!
Where is Site des Orgues?
Below is a map showing the exact location of the Site des Orgues. It's in the South of France around 30 min drive from Perpignan. The red dot shows where to park and buy tickets to enter the site. The blue camera symbol on the left is a great lookout point and another place to take photographs.
Watch my YouTube video
Watch this video to see for yourself what it's like at Site des Orgues.