One of the most Beautiful Villages in France, Gordes has narrow cobbled streets flanked by tall houses stacked against the bare rock of a mountainside, clinging to its sides and undoubtedly host to a thousand legends, as well as the apparent imminence of collapse.
All new buildings in Gordes are made of stone, and use terracotta roof tiles. No fences are permitted, only stone walls, and all electrical and telephone cables have been concealed underground, except for a few locations on the border of the commune. Some streets inside the village are cobbled with stones and called 'calade'. The architecture is remarkable, a blend of stone houses, picturesque squares, bars and restaurants.
Located in the middle of the village, the castle, originally built in the 10th century, and then partially rebuilt in Renaissance style in 1525, is a major tourist attraction, a reminder of a past rich with conquests and suffering. Today, the castle acts as both a Town Hall and a Museum sheltering the works of the painter Pol Mara, who died in 1998 and spent much of his life living in Gordes, where he was inspired by the beauty of the village and its surroundings.
In the immediate vicinity of Gordes is the Romanesque Sénanque Abbey (a Cistercian abbey) and the 'village of bories', which consists entirely of curious igloo-shaped, ovoid ancient houses made only of stone.
Restaurant terraces at the Place du Château
© Atout France/Robert Palomba
As in many villages in the Vaucluse, agriculture is important. Historically, almond trees were the most abundant in the area, and though they are still present, olive trees have largely replaced them. There are also vineyards, producing wine under the AOC Ventoux.
Tourism is a major part of the local economy of Gordes. Accommodating the tourist trade, there are a number hotels, bed and breakfasts, seasonal rentals, and restaurants.
The main sights are the castle, the Saint-Firmain Palace cellars, the Sénanque Abbey and the Village des Bories. In the surrounding villages, there are many other tourist locations like Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Roussillon or L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the Luberon area, Avignon (the nearest city) and Mont Ventoux. Gordes also has two 'centres of relaxation', numerous pools and ponds and miles of walking trails.
Behind the lavender fields, the Cistercian abbey of Sénanques. founded in the 12th century and still occupied by a community of monks. © Atout France/Emmanuel Valentin
Office de Tourisme
Le Chateau, 84220 Gordes
Tel: 04 90 72 02 75