As if it wasn’t enough that movie stars & artists made Gordes their home, here are more excuses to get to this beige-brown village atop a hill. To be utterly honest I am not someone who makes travel plans with a checklist. In fact I was very sure of one experience I did not want to miss, when I reached the Provence region. But then here’s where I eat my words & excitedly share the top 5 things to do in Gordes. Why? Just because you must relish the moments like I did. In fact I have to say they are really in & around Gordes. If driving around is your nectar, going a few extra km. means a totally new story to capture. I know once the scents of the flowering fields find you, there is no holding back. So here it is.
TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN GORDES
#1 Lavender Fields (en route to Roussillon)
Slow down. Let your eye lashes rest awhile as you gently close your eyes and let your sense of smell lead. Breathe in some freshness. If you are close enough you will get a hint of the flowers swaying to the song of the breeze, with just the aroma. You know it’s summer and as you let the light catch your eye, you will see art directed lavender fields laid out like a painting. See, I was so sold on the romantic notions around a certain purple & violet bathed landscape that even a glimpse would get me mushy
True I got to see just a glimpse. If you go by the breathtaking online pictures that are clicked sometime mid to end July, you’d see that what I got lucky with is just the beginning. Nevertheless, once you enter the region of Provence arch your neck to catch the color purple and get closer to capture its beauty against the gorgeous blue sky. I was lucky that there was no crowd, but if you visit during the ideal season the place will be teeming with tourists. Even in the small stretch I saw en route to Roussillon.
Addicted as I am to get that picture perfect lavender fields story, I have scribbled in for my next trip the best time & the prettiest place (that is incidentally atleast an hour away from Gordes). Do what it takes to view this piece de resistance. You will love it.
WHEN TO VISIT: Mid July to Mid August
WHERE TO SEE: Lavender fields of Sault & Plateau de Valensole
#2 Tuesday Farmer’s Market (in Gordes)
Why live in a village if you can’t go organic? I thank the constellation above that our short trip spilled over to a Tuesday. Because seeing the beige colored narrow streets steeped in history, suddenly light up with colors in the early hours of a lazy morning is terrific. Since we were staying a few minutes away from the village, the drive into the centre was loaded with surprises. Fresh produce, eager farmers, live cooking, essential oils with a seductive fragrance, cheese in colors. Wow! Not to forget the wine & some very beautifully put together handmade linen.
I am a bit of a trinket fan. And was happy to see a few stalls full of them. A pity we couldn’t stock up with all the healthy stuff for the week, as we were leaving for Cannes that very day. But given that we were staying in a villa with a nicely kept kitchen, the Tuesday market would’ve been just perfect to ‘live the Gordes way’.
#3 Church of St. Fermin (L’Église Saint Firmin à Gordes)
Getting lost just sauntering down pathways that emerge from nowhere, doorways that take nature’s colors, following plants that hug the walls and arches…all of it makes you feel one with earth. Even the Church that is in the centre slips gently into this pattern. Making little noise that it is a place of worship deserving of a grand and distinctive presence. Isn’t that beautiful, this seamless relationship between man and the divine?
The church of St. Fermin was built over a very old Romanesque church (12th century) originally dedicated to Notre Dame. This was later consecrated to St. Fermin (Bishop of Uzès) in the 18th century. It has eight chapels dedicated to different patron saints. All of who had faithful followers in shoemakers, blacksmiths and others. Perhaps at a time when one’s profession was revered, these saints represented the concept of abundance and protection of these sources of livelihood. The interior of the church is colorful but worn out in many parts. I really liked the fact that whether it’s inside or the façade, the church just seemed to blend in through its colors and motifs.
4. Ochre Village of Roussillon (13 km east of Gordes)
Give me a palette of red, maroon, rust, orange, ochre and I’d go the distance even if it were just to see it for a few hours. Roussillon was not on the plan and was pretty much a little wish I’d tucked into my pocket. On the last day of our stay in Gordes, on impulse we decided to take a detour to this village on our return to Cannes. So I have just a visual story to share, of a very short time spent here. I have promised myself that I’ll do a much longer stay in this region and this village will be one big stop over.
We had to park our car outside before we got on to the streets that welcomed us with its colors. The energy is in the square rather village center of course, but the color bursts are everywhere. From the fact book I gathered that the dominance of ochre & red is because of iron oxide deposits in the soil that goes back millions of years. But the real delight is when you get close to the valley. It wowed me with a contrast of these vibrant colors against the green slopes full of pine trees & oaks (Check the cover photo of this post). I know there are hiking trails which will get you close to this natural wonder.
#5 Sénanque Abbey (4 Km from Gordes village square)
I saw the Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque from atop. We were driving down to the valley and the perfect structure with rows of yet to blossom lavender flowers, was an enticing sight from the road. A medieval abbey this 12th century beauty is home to Cistercian monks, who live a very modest life while managing the upkeep of the place. They are known to work hard to produce honey & lavender essence which is also available for visitors to the abbey.
The most unforgettable moment though is when you walk through the gates and come face to face with the rows of lavender right in front of the abbey. My picture this time won’t do justice though it is pretty even with just a hint of purple. You have to imagine the rest or come in mid July.
I hope you enjoyed taking this journey with me as I re-visited the top 5 things to do in Gordes. I miss them all. I know few of them are around the village, but that’s the fun of visiting a place isn’t it. Plunging into experiences that let you discover something not in your wish list, gives you new stories no? I hope my longish share of where to eat & my stay in Gordes, as well as this one with some of my favorite attractions, has tempted you enough to choose this village. If you already have your special Gordes tale, would totally love to hear it.