The small village of Gordes in Provence, France, perched on top of a cliff above the valley of Calavon is one of the most charming Provence towns to visit. Inhabited since Roman times, Gordes, is a delightful place to spend time in. The Mediterranean climate and relaxed pace of life create the perfect vacation environment. It is quite easy to spend the whole day doing nothing much: wandering the winding streets, leisurely taking coffee at a cafe and watching the world slowly go by, spending hours over a good meal in one of the many restaurants and watching the spectacular sunsets over the lavender fields in the valley below.
Gordes Provence France
Gordes in Provence, France, is located about 40 kms east of Avignon in Provence. If you are planning a trip to Provence, then it has to be on your list of towns to visit. The best time to visit is in early or late summer and you must plan to be in Gordes during the early evening to catch the sunset.
Provence towns to visit: Gordes history
Gordes in Provence, France was first settled during the Roman empire, although there is some evidence that a settlement could have existed prior to this. In the 8th century, a Benedictine abbey known as Saint-Chaffret was founded by monks on the site of an ancient cella (Roman temple). However, this abbey was destroyed during the Arab invasions. Gordes'castle was built in 1031 and a hundred year later a Cistercian abbey was also added to the site. Gordes was eventually incorporated into France in 1481 (previously it had been part of the County of Provence).
During World War II, Gordes was an active resistance village and was later awarded a medal, the Croix de Guerre 1939–1945. One particularly memorable event occured on 21 August 1944, almost a week after the Invasion of Southern France by the Allied forces (Operation Dragoon). A German patrol was attacked by the resistance forces from the village. However a the day after, the village was subject to violent reprisals. The Germans forced the inhabitants to leave their homes, shooting those who did not cooperate. The Germans then started to fire cannon shots at the village, destroying a dozen houses. After the Liberation the village was slowly reconstructed and it also began to attract artists like Marc Chagall, Jean Deyrolle, Serge Poliakoff, Vasarely and Dewasne.
Weather in Gordes Provence, France
The weather in Gordes Provence is typically Mediterranean, with long dry summers and mild winters. Gordes in Provence is often subject to quite windy weather owing to is proximity to the path of the Mistral, a strong, and cold wind that blows down the Rhone valley in Southern France into the Gulf of Lion in the northern Mediterranean. The average speed of the Mistral during is about fifty kilometers an hour, but it tends to die off at night. The mistral usually blows in winter or spring and frequently lasts several days.
In summer, the weather in Gordes, Provence, is very pleasant, with the average day time temperatures reaching 24°C (75°F) and there is very little rain. The coldest is January, with an average day time temperature of 7°C (45°F), although the wind-chill factor can often make it feel much cooler. The wettest month is October with an average of 94mm of rain.
Where is Gordes France?
Gordes in Provence, France, is located on the D2 road east of Avignon (40 kms) and just west of the town of Roussillon. Other nearby towns include L'Isle sur Sorgue, Apt and Cavaillon. Marseille is 80 kms to the South. The closest train stations are located in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Cavaillon, where you can pick up a regional train service to the TGV stations at Avignon and Marseille. The nearest airport is located in Marseilles (Marseilles Provence international airport). Gordes is easy to navigate around, although you maybe best to park your car in the car park just below the village. Gordes is eay to reach from Avignon or Marseilles and it features on most lists of the best Provence towns to visit.
Gordes restaurants, Provence
There are a number of good restaurants in Gordes to choice from. The one Gordes restaurant I have eaten at is La Bastide de Gordes, a hotel and spa complex located just to the north of the town. We stayed here on our 10th wedding anniversary and at the time the restaurant had a Michelin star. I have to say that the food was excellent, but bloody expensive. The views from the terrace over the valley are amazing and I still have dreams about the cheese trolley.
Other good Gordes restaurants to try include Le Gordes-Manger, a small restaurant off the main square run by a local couple. It features authentic French cooking and home made deserts. Another option is L'Artegal, located in the main square next to the castle. this is great for summer evenings where you can dine outside under the stars. If you are looking for an in-expensive meal then try Le Loup Blanc. This is a small restaurant with about 20 covers. The inside has a curved ceiling (probably from the times when the building was used to store wine of horses). It is probably better to sit outside, if you can get a table.
La Fleur de Sel in nearby Beaumettes is often ranked as one of the best restaurants in Provence. It is not too expensive and specialises in Provencal cooking using local fresh ingredients.
Where to next . . . ?
- Read our review on the 10 Best cities in Provence to visit.
- See our reviews on the Best Provence restaurants in South France to visit.
- Planning a trip to the Provence? Check out our Provence villas & apartments to rent.
Contact Iain by Email or by phone +33 6 95 00 28 44 if you have any particular questions you would like to ask about visiting the South of France. If you liked the article then please share it with others using the Twitter, Facebook and G+ buttons below. I wish you a wonderful stay in the South of France.