Gordes is the Most Beautiful Village in France (so they say!):
Gordes is one of the most charming and picturesque hilltop villages in the Luberon in Provence. Perched on top of a rocky hill, this imposing village, with its blond stone buildings, has charmed many visitors and inspired many artists (it inspired us, too). Today, Gordes is one of the favourite destinations for visitors to the Luberon.
Gordes was once a large Roman settlement. A reminder of its past strategic location is the Castle Fortress, one of the two monuments that dominate the village. This defensive castle dates from the 10th century and was rebuilt in 1525. Features of the old medieval building, such as the towers, turrets and ramparts were incorporated into its Renaissance-style makeover.
Today, the castle houses the the Town Hall and the Museum Pol Mara, a Flemish painter who had settled in Gordes.
Just around the corner from the Castle entrance is Place Genty Pantaly where a flight of steps takes you to the tourist office. This was our first port of call as we needed to make sure that we could get a taxi back to Cavaillon at the end of the day. The tourist office has maps and brochures of attractions and events in and around Gordes.
On this small square stands an ancient fountain (Fontaine de la Place Genty Pantaly) which until 1956 was the only water source for the village. Surrounded by cafés and bars, Place Genty Pantaly is a nice place to take a break and get your orientation.
Gordes gets very busy during the summer months. The village market day on Tuesdays brings more people into Gordes and when there are festivals, concerts and other events happening in the village, be prepared for the crowds.
The many narrow and winding lanes in Gordes are lined with gift and souvenir shops, cafés and art galleries. Art has an important place in Gordes. Many high-profile artists have been attracted to Gordes and established themselves in the village at some stage, Marc Chagall, Pol Mara and Victor Vasarely to name a few.
The St Firmin Church is the other large monument in the village. Built in the mid-18th century, it stands on the foundation of a smaller church that existed in the Middle Ages. Inside St Firmin are eight alcoves with small chapels in them. Some of these chapels belong to the guilds. On entering the church, the chapel on the left is dedicated to the shoemakers, an important guild representing up to 400 workers. At this altar is a picture of St Crespin and St Crespinien, patron saints of shoemakers.
On the right is the Chapel of St Eloi, patron saint of blacksmiths and locksmiths.
Next to the choir is a chapel with a bust of St Firmin. The noticeable crack on the wall of the choir is from the earthquake of 1909.
The Palais St Firmin Cellars (Caves du Palais St Firmin) is another of Gordes’ attractions. Due to the lack of floor space, it was common for houses to have several levels of underground cellars from which artisans and farmers could work. The Renaissance Palais St Firmin has a network of such cellars which have been open to visitors only since 1999. We had a peek in, but unfortunately didn’t have time to visit.
One of the great attractions of Gordes is the panoramic views of the Luberon valley. Walk along the Rue de Belvedere and other roads on the southern fringe of the village and you’ll find lookouts offering magnificent views. We also discovered that at Le Cercle Républicain, we could enjoy the expansive views while having a refreshing drink. The balcony of this café is rather small and takes only fifteen people, so you have to be lucky .
Getting to Gordes
Most visitors drive to Gordes as public transport is very limited. We actually got here by walking the 4 km walk from the Abbaye de Senanque.
If you don’t want to drive, you can catch the regional Bus 15.3 from Cavaillon. But be warned that service is limited and must be booked in advance. Alternatively, it is possible to get here by taxi from Cavaillon.
Places to Stay in Gordes
As Gordes is only a small village accommodation in the village itself is quite limited. If you plan to stay in Gordes, it’s advisable to book early, especially in summer. You can book Gordes accommodation Here.
The Luberon Coeur de Provence tourist office has some more details on Gordes at this link: Gordes, together with lots of other helpful information about the Luberon region.