A Brief History of Gordes, France
Gordes, a hub for art lovers, has been officially named one of the most beautiful villages in France. Its stone buildings perched on the cliffs offer sweeping views of Provence, making it one of the most popular spots in the region.
Full of small boutiques, cafes, and art galleries, this stunning village in the Vaucluse is the perfect spot for lunch and an afternoon stroll. While it can get quite busy in the summer season, it goes on the list of “must-sees” when visiting the area, especially in July, when you can spot the vibrant fields of lavender below. Its residents, called Gordians, are known for their rebellious spirit, having sparked medieval invasions and supported Resistance fighters during World War II.
The History of Gordes from the Medieval Ages to Present
Occupied by the Roman empire, the area is full of evidence of their history in the region. In the 8th century, a Benedictine abbey known as Saint-Chaffret was founded by monks of the Abbey of Saint-Chaffre in Monastier-en-Velay on the site of a Roman temple destroyed during the Arab invasions.
In 1148, the Sénanque Abbey was established under the patronage of Alfant, Bishop of Cavaillon, and Ramon Berenguer II, Count of Barcelona, Count of Provence, by Cistercian monks who came from Mazan Abbey in the Ardèche. The image of the Sénanque Abbey surrounded by its bright fields of lavender has been promoted all over the world.
After reconstruction was needed post-WWII, Gordes began attracting artists, including Marc Chagall and Jean Deyrolle, who discovered the village in 1947 and later drew more attention from the artist community.
Where is Gordes and How to Get There
Gordes is one of the most famous villages of Provence, built on the foothills of the Monts of Vaucluse, facing the Luberon. It is within 15 -20 minutes of some of the other popular villages of Menerbves, Bonnieux, Roussillon, and Goult.
Transportation Options to Gordes
We recommend renting a car to explore this exceptional village and its region, as it is not easily accessible by public transport. The main international airport, used by most European carriers, is Marseille (MRS), only 80 km from Gordes, roughly a one our drive. If coming by TGV train (fastest), the closest option is to travel to Avignon TGV Station and drive to Gordes (40-45 minutes). Below are the train times to the Avignon train station.
- 2 hours 40 minutes from Paris
- 3 hours from Roissy Charles de Gaulle
- 1 hour from Lyon, and
- 30 minutes from Marseille
Parking in Gordes, France
While parking can be scarce in Gordes, there are some parking options available for visitors to easily explore this picturesque village. There are three paid parking lots conveniently located near the main attractions of the village, allowing visitors to park their vehicles and wander through the charming streets on foot.
Gordes’ Location within Provence
What to See in Gordes: Local Highlights
Historical Landmarks in Gordes
At the very top of Gordes sits the iconic Chateau de Gordes, which faces out onto the hills of the Luberon. The fabulous Abbey of Senanque is not far from Gordes, and to this day, Cistercian monks still live there, producing honey, lavender essence, and liqueurs.
Just beside Gordes is the Village de Bories, an ancient hamlet of all dry-stone buildings: an incredible collection of houses, walls, barns, and various other enclosures, including a period silk-making shop.
Galleries, Museums, and Exhibits in Gordes
Because of its ancient history, Gordes houses a variety of galleries and museums, not to mention a wide range of exhibits during the year. Just meandering the cobblestone streets, visitors will come across many. The most popular museums are Village Des Bories, where you can explore small stone huts dating back to pre-Roman times, and the Lavender Museum in nearby Cabrieres d’Avignon.
L’Eglise Saint Fermin (Church of Saint Fermin)
L’Eglise Saint Fermin, is a remarkable church dedicated to Saint Fermin. This captivating gem showcases awe-inspiring architecture and stunning artworks that stand as testaments to centuries of devotion and artistic brilliance. From its graceful stone facade to the intricate details adorning its interior, L’Eglise Saint Fermin offers a truly immersive and unforgettable experience, inviting visitors to embark on a spiritual journey amidst the picturesque charm of Gordes.
Local Boutiques & Art
From trendy contemporary designs to timeless vintage pieces, the boutiques in Gordes cater to diverse tastes and styles, ensuring there is something for everyone. Moreover, the town’s thriving art culture adds another layer of allure. Artists from near and far are captivated by Gordes’ natural beauty, which serves as a muse for their creative endeavors. The galleries dotted throughout the town showcase a rich tapestry of artistic expressions, including paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works.
Food & Drink Recommendations
- Gordes, France offers an extensive selection of small quaint bars, restaurants, and some of the region’s finest dining. Following are the most well-known places to eat in Gordes:
La Trinquette – Historic venue with wood beams & country views from terrace tables, serving modern French cuisine. Some of the most romantic tables can be found here. Reserve early, especially during the summer months.
Le Mas Tourteron – Family restaurant with traditional hearty fare with a wisteria-covered terrace.
La Bastide de Pierres – Known as “Italy in Gordes”, this italian restaurant in the heart of the villages has been around since 1820. Offering an authentic menu with carefully selected ingredients from Italy.
Local Cafes – Gordes boasts an array of delightful local cafes that captivate visitors with their authentic ambiance and delectable offerings. One such gem is Café de la Poste, where the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts through the air while patrons soak in the picturesque views of the village square. Le Petit Café, a cozy spot tucked away in a quaint alley, enchants guests with its rustic charm and mouth watering pastries that pair perfectly with a cup of tea.
Gordes Market Day
Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Gordes Market Day, a renowned local gathering that offers a delightful array of sights, sounds, and flavors. This market is a must-visit for both locals and tourists. To reach the market, you can take a scenic drive through the beautiful countryside or utilize public transportation options.
Discover a wide variety of fresh produce, aromatic spices, handmade crafts, and local delicacies as you stroll through the bustling stalls. Gordes Market Day takes place on Tuesday mornings from 8am to 1pm, providing ample time to explore and indulge in the authentic charm of this unique shopping experience.
Where to Stay: Accommodations in Gordes, France
Hotels in Gordes, France
The famous 5-star Bastide de Gordes offers stunning views over the Luberon.
Another attractive option is the lovely Le Petit Palais D’Aglae, which offers spa services on the Route de Murs.
Luxury Villa Rentals in Gordes, France
As the luxury property rental market has exploded worldwide, renting a luxury villa in Gordes has become the preferred choice for accommodations in Provence. Only Provence has the largest selection of luxury properties in the region.
Benefits of Luxury Villa Rentals in Gordes
One of the many benefits of renting a luxury villa in Gordes is having a genuinely private yet authentic experience in Provence, complete with in-home chef services. Many of Only Provence’s villas are within walking distance from the village of Gordes itself.
Below are some of the few great benefits of a luxury villa over other traditional accommodation options.
- Personalized experiences such as private chefs and organized tours and activities;
- Privacy and exclusivity;
- A dedicated villa manager and staff;
- A sense of feeling at home while staying in a private luxury villa;
- Private luxury villas in Gordes are ideal for groups of families or friends traveling together.