From the Archives: A Guide To Gordes

Originally posted on October 1, 2010

Photographs are only able to capture a portion of Gordes’ beauty. There really isn’t anything quite like the first time you drive up the narrow winding road and then — through a break in the trees — get your first glimpse of the perched village.

It’s no surprise that Gordes is classified as one of The Most Beautiful Villages of France. Walking around you want to take a picture of every street, every building and every view.

A great day to visit Gordes is on market day — Tuesday. Like with any market in Provence, especially during the summer, it’s best to arrive early (between 8:30 and 9am). After 9:30am the market quickly gets crowded and parking gets difficult. A parking lot at the base of the village offers easy access to the market as well as a downhill walk back to the car when your arms are full.

Gordes’ market is located in the heart of the town by château. There you can buy anything you need to make a great meal — locally grown fruit and vegetables, saucisson, cheese, bread, spices and more. You’ll also find wine, olive oil, clothing, flowers, soap, Panama hats, tablecloths and other gift items.

Once you’ve finished at the market, follow the French example and have a picnic. A wonderful place for a picnic is just a few minutes’ drive outside of Gordes. Driving north through the town, head in the direction of Murs. You’ll come to a clearing with a spot to park your car and a breathtaking view of the valley to your right. When driving around Provence you’ll always want to keep a blanket in the car for when the urge to enjoy a picnic strikes.

Of course, any great picnic is complemented by drinking a local wine. For around 5 Euros you can buy a great bottle of white, red or rosé at one of the many nearby vineyards. You’ll see signs for caves and domaines if you drive towards Les Imberts, though you can’t drive too far in Provence without passing a winery. If it’s quantity you’re looking for, continue into Coustellet where you’ll find large wine shops that sell local wines by the liter, directly from the tank. A five liter box costs around 5 Euros.

After a day of sightseeing, Gordes is a great spot to watch the sunset. In addition to the gorgeous views of valley turning from day to night, the setting sun bathes the buildings in light, giving them a pink glow.

If you’re in the mood for something fancy, head to hotel La Bastide. Right on the main road as you’re entering Gordes from the west, it’s one of the best places in the village for an upscale meal with a view. One flight down from the hotel lobby, the outdoor tree-shaded patio is the perfect spot for enjoying a cocktail as the sun goes down.

Le Cercle RepublicainFor something more casual head to Le Cercle Republicain, a small bar in the corner of the town square facing the western wall of the château. Order a “pression” (draft beer), then walk towards the back and you’ll find a small patio with a great view looking west over the valley.

Wandering around Gordes’ streets you’ll find plenty of places to eat. You L'Estaminetdon’t have to go too far to find L’Estaminet. Given its location right in the heart of the town, L’Estaminet is a great spot for a casual meal or for sipping an aperitif while people watching. The menu is a mix of French and Italian bistro fare with a modern twist. Prices are fair (for both food and wine), and portions are pretty big. You’ll want to make a reservation for dinner on weekends during the summer, especially if you want to sit outside.

If you’re celebrating a special occasion or are looking for an extraordinary meal, make a reservation at the gastronomic restaurant at Hôtel Les Bories, located a short drive from the center of Gordes. The food is excellent and is complemented with a voluminous wine list, and the service is impeccable.