The most iconic village in Provence? It may well be Gordes. Perched on the mountainside, this village has all the elements that typify the region.
Gordes sits as a sentinel for the Luberon valley. Built naturally into the cliff on which it rests, its strategic positioning extends all the way back in time to the Neolithic period. Gordes’ terraced stone homes seem haphazardly arranged, all buttressing the village château above.
To visit: Le Palais Saint-Firmin
Get beneath the surface of Gordes into the extensive secret cellars of Le Palais Saint-Firmin. Climb down underground staircases, into cavernous troglodyte dwellings, through oil mills and terraced gardens – a cavernous, medieval world built into the stone of the mountain itself.
La Bastide de Gordes, L’Orangerie
With a panoramic view of the Luberon valley and the tiled rooftops of Gordes, the terrace at L’Orangerie is an idyllic spot for dining and taking in the tableau of a yellow and pink-gold sunset. Mediterranean-style bistro. More casual than the high-end Péir 1 also at Airelles Gordes, La Bastide.
The hotel has bragging rights to the most iconic pool in Provence as well.
Not to miss just outside Gordes: Abbaye de Sénanque
In the hills encircling Gordes rests the 12th century Abbaye de Sénanque, a Cistercian gem. The abbey remains a pure artifact of an austere architectural tradition and is still inhabited by a community of Cistercian monks. These monks cultivate bees and the surrounding acres of lavender that make this abbey a fabled destination of Provence.
Note: the lavender is in bloom from mid-June to its harvest at the beginning of August. Guided tours are in French only, but there is a self-guided tour option in limited hours throughout the week