Picturesque to the utmost degree, Gordes rises above the lush Imergue Valley and faces the Luberon mountains. Considered by many to be the most beautiful village in Provence, Gordes is classified in the category of “Plus Beaux Villages de France.” With a view that is beyond compare it is not hard to see why.
One of my favorite features of this village are its “calades” which are narrow, cobblestone walkways, just wide enough for foot traffic. The town does not make driving easy and it is therefore most navigable by foot or by bike. The calades in Gordes are intimate, making each walkway feel like a brand new discovery. Each turn always seems to surprise me with ancient houses, bursts of flowers, vines, and greenery.
Walking up the to the town, you find yourself at the summit of the hillside in view of the town’s iconic landmark. Built in 1023 and reinforced in Renaissance style in 1525, the village’s chateau sits atop the hill and marks the town’s center. While originally an integral structure for defense, the chateau in Gordes now houses the Pol Mara museum, a contemporary Belgian painter who spent a good deal of his life in Gordes focusing on his abstract painting. Gordes is a tourist mecca, especially in the summer. If you can bear the crowds,stop by the chateau’s courtyard for concerts and plays ranging from casual to professional; this scenic town seems to draw talent from everywhere!
Of course, it’s hard to mention this beautiful village without also noting its cinematic history. The Gordes fountain, located in the town’s square near the Hôtel Renaissance is where Max Skinner famously waits for Fanny Chenal to get off work from the local café in the movie “A Good Year.” Although I didn’t feel any spiritual connections sitting on the edge of the fountain, I did enjoy the sight of the lively square surrounding me. The café next to the Hôtel Renaissance also offered some lovely refreshments, perfect for people watching and lounging in the Provençal sun. It is best to visit Gordes in the Spring and Fall. Plan your visit for late afternoon when the sun turns the buildings a burnished gold. The pull off on the road to Gordes marks a very popular spot for that quintessential photo op.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the lively market Gordes has to offer. Gordes is surrounded by farming areas and each Tuesday morning merchants come to the Place du Chateau to sell their vegetables, freshly picked and always seasonal. The market also offers a wide variety of souvenirs, artwork, pottery, cloth, and clothing. It is delightful to see such a vibrant community come together weekly and support the farmers and craftsmen.
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