Perched atop a rocky hill in the sun-kissed heart of Provence, you’ll find Gordes — a charming village of honey-hued stone buildings and cobblestone lanes. Gordes’ history dates back to Roman times, but it was the construction of the imposing Gordes Castle centuries later that eventually led to the development of a village around it. Today, the castle continues to watch over Gordes as a silent sentinel, its sturdy walls and towers still the soul of the town.
Steeped in history and rich in cultural heritage, Gordes stands out from the many other beautiful villages in the Luberon Valley and it’s now (rightfully so) considered one of the most beautiful towns in Southern France. Every corner of Gordes whispers tales of its rich history and culture for those who are willing to listen — no matter if travelers visit to lose themselves in the tranquil lavender fields nearby or to wander the streets that zigzag around packed stone houses.
Our in-depth guide looks into the rich cultural and natural heritage of the area, leading you through Gordes’ historical landmarks, culinary delights, and vibrant lifestyle.
Here’s how to visit Gordes, France.
Every product featured on Editoire is independently selected by our (obsessive) editors. If you click on the links we provide, we may earn a commission.
The Most Popular Attractions in Gordes
From the historic castle perched on the hill to the famous lavender fields down below, here are the most visited attractions in Gordes.
For over 1,000 years, the imposing Gordes Castle has been the first and the main sight for those arriving in the village. Once a fortress and the beating heart of Gordes, the castle served as a defense post during centuries of turbulent history. Later, it was used as a prison, a harvest warehouse, a garrison, and two different museums. Today, it’s home to the Town Hall and an art gallery and museum showcasing works by contemporary Belgian painter and lithographer Pol Mara.
The real magic of Gordes Castle, however, lies in the panoramic views it offers. Undulating hills carpeted in shades of green fill the valley below, and you’ll catch sight of distant villages and lush vineyards gleaming under the Provençal sun.
Just a few miles from Gordes, the 12th-century Sénanque Abbey is a stunning example of primitive Romanesque architecture. A mix of tranquil surroundings and austere beauty, Senanque Abbey offers a place for spiritual reflection.
The abbey is perhaps most famous for its expansive lavender fields, grown by the Cistercian monks who live here and also engage in olive tree cultivation and beekeeping. Those arriving between mid-June and early August will find the landscape painted in vibrant hues of purple. The striking contrast of color against the stern stone façade of the abbey is one of the most iconic images of Provence.
Village des Bories
Located just west of Gordes, the Village des Bories is an open-air museum chronicling ancient Provençal life. The name comes from the twenty bories — igloo-shaped huts built of dry stone without using any mortar to bind the stones together. Bories date back to the Bronze Age, though the ones here were likely built during the 17th and 18th centuries to be used as agricultural outhouses and for shepherds to shelter their flocks.
Today, visitors can explore the restored huts that hold many stories of rural life gone by. Small exhibits inside the buildings feature old tools, artifacts from everyday life, and photographs of the restoration, which took several decades.
For the best views of Gordes, make your way to the Town Viewpoint, easy to find on Google Maps. There’s a parking lot near the viewpoint or it’s also possible to leave the park on a lay-by on the side of the road. After that, it’s just a short uphill walk of around 164 feet to reach the viewpoint. From the top, there are open views over the stunning cluster of stone buildings clinging to the hillside — especially beautiful bathed in a golden glow during sunset.
The Best Things to Do In and Around Gordes
Wander Around the Gordes Village
There’s no better way to soak up the charm of Gordes than by wandering its narrow, winding cobblestone streets. There are postcard-worthy views at every turn: hidden courtyards filled with the scent of Provencal herbs, cozy artisan shops, and even open views over the surrounding countryside from an almost-hidden promenade at the end of a street.
For an authentic Provencal experience, there are plenty of shops offering the perfect souvenir. L’Alchimiste et la Fée (The Alchemist and the Fairy) sells authentic local crafts as well as lavender-infused products, while the Art Gallery Contemporary Tapiezo offers unique pieces of art that encourage interaction and touching.
Gordes is also the perfect starting point for the “Lavender Route” that connects the village to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence an hour away.
Visit the Museums & Markets
Gordes’ fascinating culture and history are best explored through its many museums and markets. The Pol Mara Museum, located within Gordes Castle, is a great first stop. It showcases the works of contemporary Belgian painter Pol Mara, whose photorealistic pop art reflects the everyday life of modern people.
Another gem in Gordes is the caves underneath the Saint Firmin Palace. A subterranean labyrinth of man-made cellars, cisterns, oil mills, and even a medieval bakery, the caves go as far back as the 11th century and showcase the history of old craft life in the village.
Gordes’ Tuesday morning market is the place to pick up unique gifts to take home, including herbs & spices, Nougat, and lavender-anything (handmade soaps, lavender-infused beauty products, lavender honey, and other flavored foods, including jams and teas).
For an added dose of market charm, it’s worth visiting the nearby Vaison-la-Romaineis village, where the Tuesday market is home to over four-hundred-fifty exhibitors during the summer.
Explore the Luberon Valley
Gordes is the perfect getaway to explore the idyllic Luberon Regional Natural Park, a vast expanse of hills, vineyards, and orchards dotted with picturesque villages. From hiking and cycling to canoeing and antique shopping, both history and nature lovers will find something to do here.
During the summer, most tourists head to the splendid local lavender fields. Many of these fields are open to those wanting to wander along the rows of purple blooms filled with the hum of bees. Early morning or late afternoon visits offer the best light for dramatic photography. Guided tours might be a better option for travelers wanting a deeper insight into the cultivation of lavender.
Rousillon & Le Sentier des Ocres
The village of Roussillon is well-known because of its colors. Instead of the grey stone facades that are common in other villages of the Luberon, Roussillon is painted in a palette of warm yellow and reds — a homage to the rich ochre deposits that dominate the area.
From the village, travelers can easily access Le Sentier des Ocres, a canyon that cuts through a former ochre mine. Surrounded by towering cliffs drenched in hues of red, orange, and yellow, the canyon is a popular hiking spot that’s part wooden walkway, part Martian-like landscape.
The Best Places to Eat in Gordes
Provence is renowned for its fresh and flavorful cuisine, and Gordes, nestled in the heart of this region, is no exception. Travelers should start their culinary experience at the weekly Tuesday market, where they will find regional products such as artisan cheeses and fragrant herbs. This might also be a good place to grab some homemade snacks or a bite for a light lunch on the go — a slice of tarte tropezienne (cream-filled brioche) or a few calissons (traditional candy made with ground almonds and candied fruits) will do the trick.
For a true culinary experience, Gordes offers two great Michelin-starred restaurants — Les Mas with its market-inspired cuisine, and Les Bories Hotel & Spa, with an in-house gourmet restaurant that celebrates regional produce and Mediterranean fish.
No restaurant in Gordes marks all the upscale boxes better than La Table de Xavier MATHIEU, another Michelin favorite that offers elegant recipes inspired by regional dishes and is housed in a traditional Provençal farmhouse.
For a laid-back lunch on the way to Aigues-Mortes, Le QG in nearby Orles is the perfect stop. It not only offers an array of local snacks (like brie stuffed with truffle) but also an extensive dessert menu.
Where to Stay in Gordes
Choosing the perfect place to stay in Gordes is tricky — both the town and the countryside have plenty of stunning options. Hotels in the heart of the village provide easy access to all the vibrancy Gordes has to offer, while travelers looking for peace and quiet will love staying in the outskirts, where the serene surroundings often include views of the lavender fields.
A former seigneurial residence with an 18th-century atmosphere, Airelles Gordes, La Bastide offers 5-star elegance and exceptional service, including ultra-luxurious rooms and a fabulous spa. This hotel palace is featured as one of our ten best stays in and near Gordes.
Regardless of where you choose to stay, Gordes promises an unforgettable experience that lingers long after you’ve left.