France - Provence - Gordes -

Gordes : 1

LINKS to other pages in the Provence website and the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

Home Page
Introduction (Hotels etc.)
1 : Gréoux-les-Bains
2 : Cassis
3 : Aix-en-Provence
4 : Bonnieux
5 : Gordes
6 : Lavender Museum
7 : Gorges de Verdon
8 : France Parts 1 and 2
9 : Guest Book:


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GORDES is a picturesque Provençal village much favoured by Parisian media personalities, film directors, artists and the like.

Gordes is perched on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse. Some stone buildings are built against the base of the cliffs and others, including the 12th-century castle, are perched on the rocks above. The beige stone from which they are constructed glows orange in the morning sun. The view from the village is over fields and forests and small hilltop villages across to the Montagne du Luberon.

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On the road from Bonnieux to Gordes we pass the hilltop village of Lacoste   (right). Donatien Alphonse François, [Marquis de Sade (June 2, 1740 – December 2, 1814) was a French aristocrat and writer of philosophy-laden and often violent pornography. Sade was incarcerated in various prisons and an insane asylum for 29 years of his life, though he was never convicted of any crime; much of his writing was done during this time. The term "sadism" is named after him. His home (when not confined to prison or asylum!) was the castle to be seen above the village.

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View of Gordes from the upper approach road  (left)

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In the Roman times, Gordes was an oppidum (Latin for the main settlement in any administrative area of the Roman Empire); the tribe that lived there was that of the Vulgientes or Vordenses which gave its name to the original village; the "V" usually became a "G" (Vordenses - Gordenses) in the Gallo-Roman days. In the Gallo-Roman days, Gordes was the most important oppidum for the area of Cavaillon which was one of the oldest in Gaul.

The insecurity caused by many invasions and attacks forced local populations to find refuge on the hills. This explains why so many villages and towns developed on the hill tops. The strategic value of these fortified towns extended through medieval times and into the Renaissance era, notably during the religious wars.

Gordes has lived in defensive mode for much of its history and has learnt, maybe more than others, how to protect itself. This explains why to this day the village has a tough and even austere appearance.

'It is like a labyrinth of stones marked by the torments of the past.'
'Because of the multiple invasions, the religious wars (including the massacre of the Vaudois), the plague, two earthquakes (thankfully light ones), bombing at the end of the Second World War and all the consequences thereof (starvation and depopulation), the inhabitants of Gordes, have had many an opportunity to show their bravery and their strength and to prove how attached they are to that little village strongly clinging onto its rock!'

The visit to Gordes continues on the next page.
Please click on the 'Next' button (lower right).

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