Perched village gem a short(ish) walk from Abbaye de Sénanque’s lavender fields
Gordes is often described as the “Jewel of the Luberon” and claims to be “the most beautiful village in France” (well, they would, wouldn’t they!). But you have to admit, there’s some truth behind the hyperbole, and thousands of tourists every year flock to this picturesque “perched village” above the plain, and some stay – Sotheby’s International Realty have an office there…
Tony and Helen explored Gordes after their walk from the nearby lavender fields at the Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque, on a beautiful sunny summer’s afternoon:
“Well, here we are in the centre of Gordes, which is quite touristy. It’s a long walk round the bend past the car park to the centre from the view I showed you earlier from outside. Restaurants, hotels that look quite dear, and this is the centre, and this is the Château. Below the Château there seems to be a tourist shopping area, so we’ll see about that later on.
A tourist hotspot, but picturesque nevertheless
This is certainly a tourist spot. The roads run up and down, it’s a picturesque kind of place, a bit up and down, there are lots of tourists, but I imagine it calms down considerably later on at night. The Tourist Office is up those steps, in the actual Château itself.
Helen, meanwhile, has moved herself down here to the fountain, which now says “Eau non potable“, but until 1956, according to the blurb, it was the only source of water in the whole village. And it was only for drinking, not for washing, you had to go down to the river or somewhere to wash your clothes.
So, how things have gone downhill: “non potable” now, but it used to be for hundreds and hundreds of years the only source. Well, there you go.
A Cafe With A View
Just a tip, if you’re coming from the main Place de Château (there we are, to show you), this is the place to have your coffee – or beer, in my case – the “Cercle Républicain“. And if you go in there, at the back, there is a very nice verandah where fifteen of you can have your coffee and beer overlooking the valley.
Here we are in the “Cercle Républicain” Cafe in Gordes. You go through, out the back, great place, there’s only fifteen places so hop in and get your table quickly. If I stand up, you’ll see the great view we have from Gordes, actually it’s a bit reminiscent of that view on the walk from the Abbaye de Sénanque.
As you’ll see here, see those houses over there? Brand new. See here? Brand new. But it’s facing, not the real, solid brick, stone wall that we saw on the borie earlier. It’s a pleasant little place, but next door, believe it or not, you saw it here, yep, it’s “Sotheby’s International Property“, they sell it in Luberon. So that might give you a clue as to the nature of this village.
Actually, you’re pretty isolated when you’re in this place unless you’ve got a car, because the bus service has to be reserved up front, as we found out. So I’m not sure it’s the best place to base yourself when you’re in Luberon. But still – it’s a great view!
Gordes isn’t a very big place
Well, actually Gordes isn’t a very big place. A lot of tourist shops, haven’t seen any ordinary shops around yet, presumably they’re somewhere. But Helen’s already bought a bag, and there are a lot of tourists and cafes all around. There are a lot of by-ways, as you’d expect from a perched village.
It’s basically a single block. We’re going to wander around there and come round across the view, and back up here again. And that seems to be about most of the tourist area, except for the main road leading down out of the village.
Impressive, mysterious doors and steep stone causeways
There are a few mysterious but very impressive doors in the village, and it’s all stone underfoot, reminiscent of the causeways in many mountain villages, to help the donkeys climb up.
Anyway, art galleries galore – St. Paul de Vence, perhaps, all over again.
It’s quite steep this, Helen’s making her way down. The contrast between light and shade is amazing. I’m going to try and walk down here. It’s steps are very bumpy, so I’m very sorry if you feel sick, but look at this view! Spectacular, is it not? Quite slippery underfoot, these smooth stones, but there you are: worth coming for, eh?
A fine view, and a distant prospect
Well, it’s a fine view, out from Gordes, you could certainly see your attackers coming! There seem to be quite a few vineyards in the area, not sure what their names are. Either that or fruit, from here it’s very difficult to tell. That road’s a long way down, I’m not sure which one it is, stretching out along the valley. Maybe I’ll be travelling along it later. It’s a great view, anyone care to estimate how far we can see – 20k, 30k? Who knows.
And you’ve got the familiar village up and down roads, this is where we’ve just come from, and if I pan around slowly you can see the areas where we’re going to. There are quite a few viewpoints actually in Gordes.
St Fermin and the 1909 earthquake
The village’s main church is that of St. Fermin. It has one very interesting characteristic due to an earthquake. Now inside the church of St. Fermin, where we are here, – and that, by the way, is his chapel – in the choir, you can see just there, behind the high altar, in the wall you can see the crack, see in there, running up behind the picture? I think it may be more obvious here. Apparently that was caused by the earthquake in 1909.
An underground city
Just down from the Rue d’Eglise is the place where you go to visit the Caves – cellars – under St. Fermin. Most houses apparently have a level of two cellars, and there’s a whole underground city here.
Unfortunately, we’ve got no time to visit it, but this can give you a bit of an idea – ooh, pardon me! You can see me! A small charge, worth it.
Everybody’s interested in the viewpoint! And, let’s face it, it is a view, right?”
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And get more interesting info about Gordes by checking out the feature at our website
Also our video of “Summer Lavender at Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque”
and a post: “Abbaye de Sénanque and its Stunning Lavender Fields”
And find out about our walk to Gordes by checking out the feature at our website, “A Walk In The Luberon Countryside With Some Intrepid Travellers”
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