A walking holiday or a cycling tour of Provence.
Gordes : a medieval Provençal village
Built on a rocky spur, the perched village of Gordes spills down in terraces and is a picture postcard image of what a Provençale village should look like. Old dry-stone houses winding up in concentric circles to the hilltop where a Renaissance church and castle watch over the villagers.
Gordes is listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France and is indeed one of the most visited villages of Provence. For years, Gordes has attracted the rich and famous, international film directors, celebrities, musicians and painters, all intrigued by the traditional architecture and light, especially at sunset when the old stone turns a beautiful gold.
On your walking tour in Provence, come and explore the village with its maze of narrow streets, quaint shops and restaurants and doorways that hide the entrances to the most spectacular of dwellings. It has become a very bourgeois place to be seen and despite the influx of tourism, has managed to preserve its medieval charm.
Gordes is a lively village and is ideally visited on foot, strolling through the streets, enjoying the local market on a Tuesday morning, and working your way up to the castle. First built in XI century then later improved during the XVI century, the castle is a wonderful mix of Middle Age and Renaissance architecture.
Just 4km from Gordes lies the Senanque Abbey. Built during the XII century, the abbey is one of the rare survivors of still functioning abbeys in France. To this day, Cistercian monks live at the abbey and make and sell liquor, honey and other trinkets. Beautiful lavender fields blanket the land surrounding the abbey making this an ideal Provence walking holiday in June and July when the lavender is in full bloom.
Another unique site to visit on your Provence cycling trip is the Borie village, again, just outside of Gordes. A borie is a drystone hut, built with no cement, just the stones pressed tightly together. The shapes are often pyramid like but with a rounded top and an almost square base. These huts were used as shelters for farmers and villagers up until 1839. They were very cleverly designed so that the rain runs off the exterior and with walls up to 1.5 metres thick, the temperature inside the hut remains constant.
If you have read Peter Mayle’s “A year in Provence” and you want to experience the Provencal lifestyle that he so wonderfully writes about, then Gordes is the place to go!