Gordes is a wonderful Provencal town situated on top of a hill, and is probably visited by every tourist in the region. There are not too many attractions here, but you can still spend a good part of the day in the town.
Gordes is located about 40 km east of Avignon, in the geographical region of Luberon. The town attracts tourists because of its picturesque location on top of a hill. The main draw-card here is the views of the surrounding area, as well as the cobbled streets and stone houses.
Gordes has a reputation for being the most commercialized city in Provence – prices are very high and you don’t get the chance to walk freely through the narrow streets because of the crowds of tourists.
What to see in Gordes
Just take the D15 road from Cavaillon or Avignon to Gordes to be enchanted by the unusual location of the town. There is a small, free parking area with lookout on the D15, where you can stop for 5 minutes and admire the best panorama of the town (first photo in the gallery above). It’s a delightful sight indeed.
I visited Gordes during Provence’s peak season – in July. It was hot, and the cicadas seemed to be at the peak of their concert. However, we didn’t come across the crowds of tourists anticipated everywhere, and we were able to park the car for free in the very center of the town.
Also, the prices in the restaurants seemed to me only slightly higher than on the French Riviera. We ordered a slice of the local quiche with goat cheese and salad, the obligatory pink wine, and water and coffee to finish. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the price per person, but it certainly did not differ more than 1–2 euros from the prices in Nice or Marseille.
The movie A Good Year with Russell Crowe was filmed in and around the town. The film was directed by Ridley Scott, and based on a novel of the same name by Peter Mayle.
After eating, we went for a walk – and here was the biggest disappointment. There are some beautiful cobbled streets and stone houses in Gordes, lots of souvenirs and art shops, but that’s all. There are not even very many streets to walk on to get the feel of the atmosphere of this stone castle! It’s true that we didn’t go down to the lower parts of the town, mainly because the heat was unmerciful and the car was waiting all the way at the top of the town. So we were content with the beautiful panorama of the surrounding fields with its olive groves, vines, and lavender.
We also visited the church in the center, but we didn’t enter the castle that dominates Gordes’ architecture. There is nothing to see inside, and the temporary exhibition didn’t interest us.
Attractions in the Gordes area
Despite the few attractions, it is definitely worth a look at Gordes. No more than a few kilometers from the town is probably the most famous lavender field in Provence. It is pictured in almost every Provencal guide. This is the Senanque Abbey (Abbaye de Sénanque).
There is also a settlement with stone Provencal houses built without mortar. This is the Village des Bories – an open-air museum where you can admire the reconstructed traditional houses formerly built by Provencal farmers.
How to get to Gordes
Provence is best explored by car. Every few kilometers there are wonderful towns and attractions. However, you can reach Gordes by bus. From Avignon take line 15 with a change in Apt to line 17. From Aix-en-Provence there is bus 09, then in Apt you again need to change to line 17. From Marseille there aren’t any good connections without many changes.