Things to do in Gordes
Gordes has something for every kind of traveler. It’s situated in the breathtaking nature of the Luberon Regional Park, looking down on the greenery of the French countryside. In July and August, you can also see the iconic purple fields of lavender!
As you drive on the looping hillside roads, you’ll see Gordes perched on the hill as you turn the corner. Each house is built into the hillside at different levels with storybook charm.
In fact, its situation on the hill means that for hundreds of years, it’s been a place of refuge for those needing to escape wars and rebellions. It has a fascinating history, having suffered from numerous earthquakes and bombings over the years. However, it’s managed to preserve its ancient beauty.
1. Art Scene
The unique scenery of Gordes has attracted many artists throughout the years. Understandably, they were inspired by the romantic landscapes and lighting of the village and its surroundings. It’s still known for the arts now, with many art galleries and exhibits taking place in the village. Spend some time visiting the beautiful galleries or watching painters do their work in the streets of Gordes.
2. Caves of Palais Saint Firmin
Visiting the Caves of Palais Saint Firmin is a unique opportunity to go back in time and learn about the history of Gordes. In the middle ages, the local villagers carved out the rock below the village to make food and store it. They created everything from olive oil mills and bread ovens to workshops and tanneries. During times of war, the underground caves were even used as a hiding place and an escape route.
3. L’Eglise Saint Firmin
L’Eglise Saint Firmin is a beautiful church and a must-see on your trip to Gordes, France. Not only is it beautiful on the outside, but it has a spectacular interior. In fact, some have likened it to Italian churches because of its beautiful paintings and carvings. Inside, you’ll find eight different chapels, each dedicated to a patron saint of another profession.
The church is an icon of the town and sits at one of the highest points in the village, making it a great place to go for views of the town.
4. Enjoy the Streets of Gordes, France
Simply wandering the streets of Gordes is an activity in itself. Get lost in the narrow cobbled streets, finding stone houses of all different shapes and sizes and stopping around every corner for a new perspective. On your way, enjoy all the cute shops in Gordes. You’ll find art galleries run by local artists, boutiques selling handmade items made from lavender, ice cream shops, and creperies.
5. Gordes Viewpoint
Gordes Viewpoint is one of the highlights of the village. The spectacular viewpoint sits high above the town, looking onto the houses and the Luberon Regional Park below. Enjoy watching the sun go down and the light changing the color of the stone across the houses. As the evening comes, the street lights come on in the town, making for a magical experience from the viewpoint.
At sunset, the viewpoint can be busy, especially in the summer months. If you want to see the view with fewer people, wake up early for sunrise. The location of the viewpoint can be found here.
6. Le Chateau du Gordes, France
Gordes Castle (Le Château du Gordes) is one of the most impressive buildings in Gordes. It’s approximately 1000 years old and is one of the oldest castles in France! Now, the castle is home to exhibitions by local artists. Seeing art surrounded by the Renaissance and Middle Ages influences of the building is spectacular.
After you’ve finished exploring the castle, walk a little bit further up the hill to another brilliant viewing area.
7. Our Lady of Senanque Abbey
Our Lady of Senanque Abbey is a stunning abbey at the foot of the hill below Gordes. The abbey was built in the 13th century and has been used by monks for hundreds of years. Now, the monks still live in it, making a living from producing olive oil, honey and allowing guided tours to the abbey. During the summer months, the fields around the abbey bloom with lavender making it an even more magical setting.
Tip: During visiting hours, the monks move into one of the rooms to pray. Because of this, you must respect the peace of the abbey.
Entry Fee and Opening Times: 8.50 EUR for a guided tour. Open from Monday – Saturday 10.30, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00. Sunday – 14.00, 15.00, 16.00
8. Gordes Market
If you’re visiting on a Tuesday, make sure to enjoy the local delights of Gordes Market! Wander between the vendors, buying food and other products, such as woodwork, soaps, and flowers. There are lots of lavender-infused products, too – sourced from the iconic lavender fields of Provence.
Olive groves surround Gordes, and the locals still use traditional methods to harvest them. Olive oil is an essential part of life here, and you can buy it at the market. If you want to learn more about olive oil production in Gordes, it’s possible to visit one of the local olive oil mills.
How to Get to Gordes, France
Drive: Gordes is very remote, so it’s easiest to drive here. This way, you can also explore the surrounding national park and enjoy the beautiful nature here. It’s around a one-hour drive from bigger cities like Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
It’s a lovely drive to Gordes, but be aware it can be hard to park once you get to the village. Bring some change to park the car, as the car parks all cost a small fee.
Train: If you’re arriving by train, head for the nearby station of Cavaillon. From here, it’s possible to take a public bus to Gordes.
Day Tour: Alternatively, you can join a day tour to Gordes from bigger cities in Provence. These include a tour guide and return transport.
Best Time to Visit
Gordes is an icon of Provence and, as a result, gets busy in the summer months. However, it’s the only time you’ll be able to see the lavender fields burst into color, which is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you don’t mind not seeing the lavender, it’s a good idea to visit in the shoulder seasons. For example, spring and autumn are perfect for warm days and quieter streets.
Best Places to Stay Gordes
Most people visit Gordes, France, on a day trip. However, the captivating nature of the village means you might want to stay longer. Most of the hotels within the village are luxury or boutique and a bit more expensive. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, opt for a guesthouse or apartment outside of the village.
Gordes is a small village, but it’s packed with amazing restaurants to enjoy locally sourced food and wine. Many of these restaurants have beautiful terraces with breathtaking views over the valley. All of them are small, charming, and have that cozy, romantic feel. Some of our favorites were:
- La Bastide de Pierres
- Le Teston