Gordes: Provence’s Trendier Village

Gordes: Provence’s Trendier Village

This ancient village stands on the edge of the plateau of Vaucluse, facing the Luberon valley. It has been voted one of France’s most beautiful villages. Its houses and buildings made of white stone are rooted into the cliff of a mountain, making it one of the most well-known hilltop villages in the region.

Gordes has endured numerous invasions, religious wars, the plague, two earthquakes (although nothing very serious) and a bombing at the end of World War II. In the face of these setbacks, this ancient village has succeeded in clinging onto its rock and for the most part has remained fairly intact to this day.

Gordes has sheltered many a famous artist, including Marc Chagall, André Lhote, Jean Deyrolle, Victor Vasarely and Pol Mara. It is a renowned summer retreat for artists, businessmen and politicians, making the price of real estate significantly more elevated than its neighboring villages. Gordes is home to numerous cultural events throughout summer, although visitors and potential homebuyers should be warned that summer crowds are thick with tourists. Despite the crowds, Gordes is without a doubt one of the must-see places in Provence, and for those lucky enough to afford a home here, the views are spectacular.

Abbaye de Sénanque, photo: Hubert TABUTIAUX2006

From the top of Gordes, one can see the fortified castle that encloses the city hall. Take a visit to this 16th century château, built on the foundations of an earlier 12th century fortification, which now houses the Pol Mara Museum (Flemish contemporary painter who lived in Gordes). From the top one can also look out onto the panoramic views of the Coulon Valley and the Luberon mountains. The sight is absolutely breathtaking, and it is understandable why many English and Americans have chosen this as their second-home.

Also definitely worth a visit in the commune of Gordes are the Village de Bories and the Abbey of Sénanque. Bories, an intriguingly odd village located just 4km outside Gordes (direction Cavaillon), consists of a collection of houses, walls and barns built entirely of stone, once used by shepherds and hunters. The Abbey of Sénanque, located just 4km outside Gordes (direction Venasque,) is a Cistercian abbey founded in 1148, surrounded by the most magnificent fields of lavender. Cistercian monks still live there, producing honey, lavender essence and liquors.

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