8 Unmissable Things to Do in Gordes (a Detailed Guide)

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The South of France is possibly the most beautiful region of the country. It’s a region full of scenic sights, rich history, and dotted with charming villages. One of these villages is Gordes and it is one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Perched on a hill in Provence, Gordes is a medieval village worth visiting for its quaint alleys and beautiful panoramas. Although Gordes is a small village that can be fully seen in a few hours, its surrounding area is dotted with intriguing historical sites and visually stunning tourist attractions, making a trip to Gordes even more rewarding.

If you’re planning a trip to Gordes, there are certain attractions and places that can make your visit more rewarding. These unmissable destinations include the unique and most iconic sites not only in Gordes but in Provence. Additionally, the features that set Gordes apart from other destinations.

Important: This post can serve as your guide to Gordes. You’ll find information for the must-see attractions and features of Gordes here. And it includes tips about visiting the medieval village and information on other destinations surrounding Gordes.

If you want a summary of what Gordes offers, here is my impression of the village and how I would describe it to anyone who asks:

Gordes, though small, is a place full of charm. It’s a village with a rich history dating back to the 11th century. The well-preserved houses, villas, and arches offer a glimpse into the past. Situated on a rocky promontory in the Vaucluse mountains of Provence, Gordes provides a stunning view of the Coulon Valley below and Luberon in the distance.

You can explore all of Gordes in just a day. And while it might not have many thrilling activities, it promises a satisfying journey of discovery and plenty of photo opportunities. If you’re someone who enjoys uncovering hidden details and venturing into less popular destinations, Gordes could be your next stop. Especially if you have a fondness for quaint places.

One of the unique features of Gordes I first noticed is its calades, cobblestone paths that are both decorative and practical. These paths give Gordes a distinctive look that’s sure to please the eye of any traveler. And if you visit during the summer, you’ll get to enjoy performances by street artists, adding to the amazing atmosphere of the village.

Here are some of the most beautiful scenes you can witness when exploring Gordes.

Gordes, France - View of the village
Here’s a view of the medieval village from the viewpoint. This spot in Gordes is unmissable, and we’ll discuss it more later.
Gordes France - Stairs and calades in a view point in Gordes
Here are the caladed stairs, which provide a viewpoint of the Luberon Valley from Gordes.
Gordes, France -  Quaint houses and Calades
The quaint atmosphere in Gordes and its calades.
Gordes, France - Fountain in the village square
The atmosphere is tranquil in the main square of Gordes during the low season.

What should you visit and do to maximize your trip to Gordes? Let’s start the list with the castle of this medieval village.

1. Château de Gordes

Gordes, France - Castle of Gordes
Gordes Castle

Let’s start the list of things you must do in Gordes with Gordes Castle, the most historical structure in the village. First mentioned in the 11th century, Gordes Castle is almost as old as the village itself.

Located in the heart of the village, south of the roundabout, Château de Gordes transports you back in time, especially when you notice its arrow slits and machicolations. If you’ve watched movies set in medieval times, Château de Gordes can help bring those scenes to life in your imagination.

Gordes Castle is one of the best-preserved buildings in the village. While it may not be as grand as castles in other parts of Europe, a visit here is special due to the exhibits inside. The exhibits feature modern artworks by local artists and those who have visited the village, including masterpieces by Jean Deyrolle, Marc Chagall, André Lhote, and Pol Mara.

You can also find pieces of Renaissance architecture inside Gordes Castle. The most notable is the fireplace, which features a combination of pilasters, entablature, frieze, gables, and niche designs. The castle’s spiral stairs and large hall are also worth seeing.

For the most current information on visiting Gordes Castle, please refer to the official website of Luberon-Provence. The visiting season and hours change yearly, sometimes without notice, so it’s advisable to check their website.

Gordes, France - View of Gordes Castle from afar and Gordes Castle's alley
Gordes Castle from afar, Gordes Castle Alley

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2. Saint-Firmin Church

Gordes, France - Saint Firmin Church Belfry
Saint-Firmin Church Belfry

As you travel along Rte de Cavaillon (D15), just before reaching Gordes, the village greets you with its charming appearance, perched on a hilltop. If you notice a fortress-like structure at the very top, that’s not Gordes Castle but Saint Firmin Church.

Saint Firmin Church is Gordes’ 18th-century church, dedicated to their patron saint, Saint Firmin. The remarkable features of the structure are inside, such as beautiful murals and wood panelings. The murals on the walls and arches of Saint Firmin Church use Trompe-l’œil, an art technique that creates an optical illusion, making a flat image appear three-dimensional.

Aside from the artworks, the church is often tranquil, and you might enjoy spending a few minutes inside for some peace and quiet. If you’re Catholic and it’s your first time visiting the church, don’t forget to make a wish!

You might wonder why Saint Firmin Church is only around 300 years old if Gordes is almost a millennium old. There was a small church standing where Saint Firmin Church now stands. The old church was reconstructed to accommodate more people, resulting in the current Saint Firmin Church. Some 20 houses were demolished to make way for the 18th-century Saint Firmin Church that you can visit today.

Saint Firmin Church was restored to its beautiful state in 2017. You can witness its beauty with just a 2-minute walk from the village center or roundabout.

For more information about Saint-Firmin Church, you can refer to the official website of Gordes. There, you’ll find the most current visiting information for this church.

Gordes, France - inside Saint-Firmin Church
Inside Saint-Firmin Church

Saint-Firmin Church is a must-see in Gordes. However, you should also consider visiting the church where the kings of France were crowned. This church is known as Notre-Dame de Reims in the wine city of Reims.

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3. Saint-Firmin Palace Caves

Just a few steps from Saint Firmin Church, you’ll find the Cellars of the Palais Saint-Firmin. This is a must-visit site in Gordes and could be the unique discovery you’re looking for.

In the Cellars of the Palais Saint-Firmin, also known as Saint Firmin Palace Caves, you’ll discover archaeological remains from the Middle Ages. This means that fascinating discoveries can be found both above and below Gordes.

The tourism office refers to the Saint-Firmin Palace Caves as a semi-troglodytic site, a type of cave or den where ancient people lived. The early residents of Gordes actually lived here, which is why the Saint-Firmin Palace Caves are considered a historical monument.

Visiting the Saint Firmin Palace Caves is like uncovering the hidden history of Gordes. You’ll see oil mills, cisterns, bread ovens, and other objects that reveal how the early residents of Gordes lived underground. The underground labyrinth of rooms in the Saint-Firmin Palace Caves will make you appreciate the ingenuity of Gordes’ early residents.

The Saint Firmin Palace Caves are very close to the vantage point of the vast Luberon regional nature park from Gordes. After exploring the mysterious underground world of the Saint Firmin Palace Caves, you can enjoy the panoramic scenery.

For information about visiting the Saint-Firmin Palace Caves, I recommend checking the official website of Saint-Firmin Caves. There, you can find announcements as well as the most current opening hours and entry fee for the caves.

Have a sample preview of what awaits you inside Saint Firmin Palace Caves:

If you’re searching for a place with many unique and different things to see and do, I highly recommend Strasbourg. It’s the capital of the Grand Est region in northeastern France, and it’s like a miniature version of all of Europe.

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4. Gordes Calades

Gordes, France - view of Luberon from Gordes and the stairs to the view point
Gordes Viewpoints and Calades

One of the unmissable things to do in Gordes is free. There’s no admission fee. You’re not required to purchase anything to see it. It’s the stroll in Gordes’ charming “caladed-alleyways.” For me, they are another reason to visit Gordes.

The alleyways in Gordes offer complete escapism. Houses made of stone bricks, walls covered with vines, streets decorated with calades—all seem like scenes from Greek/Roman myths. The architecture of the houses deserves mention! They are simple, but the brick and stone materials, their curvy black metals, and tile roofs transport you to a different dimension. It’s as if you’re exploring your own fairytale world!

There’s excitement even on Gordes’ streets. They can surprise you as time-transporting scenes or scenic views turn after turn. If you explore Gordes slowly, you’ll find not only picturesque views but also quiet spots that feel serene. They offer perfect moments for introspection. Consider soul searching.

Don’t miss visiting the southern tip of Gordes near Saint Firmin Church. The best views await there. If you ask me, the scenery and the calades are enough to convince you that a visit to Gordes is worth it!

Gordes, France - the time transporting look of the arches in Gordes
Arch and Walkway in Gordes
Gordes, France - the quaint alleys in Gordes
Charming Alley in Gordes

Do you enjoy destinations with a historical, fairytale-like charm? If a trip to France is in your plans, Colmar is my top recommendation. The colorful half-timbered houses in this town are sure to captivate you.

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5. Gordes Viewpoint

Gordes, France - afternoon view in Gordes from the viewpoint
Afternoon in Gordes Viewpoint

In Gordes, two vantage points are a must-visit. The first is located in the village of Gordes, offering a view of the rest of the Luberon Regional Nature Park.

The second is the viewpoint of Gordes, situated along Route de Cavaillon. If you’re traveling from Avignon, Cavaillon, or any towns south of Gordes, this viewpoint will be on your way to Gordes. You can find it on Google Maps:

From the viewpoint in Gordes, you can see the southwestern face of the village. It can look quite beautiful at certain times of the day. If you enjoy breathtaking views like I do, you have another reason to visit Gordes.

For photography enthusiasts, visiting the viewpoint in Gordes is a must. You’ll understand why when you witness a Golden Hour moment from the village’s vantage point.

Just before sunset, Gordes will be bathed in golden light from the sun. As the sun descends to the horizon, the sunlight will move up, casting more red hues on the facades and roofs of the houses in Gordes. When the sun finally sets, Gordes will begin to twinkle with street lights. It’s a spectacular moment you should see if possible. It’s perfect for a timelapse shot!

If you’re coming from Gordes’ village center, it may take 15 minutes to reach the viewpoint on foot. However, if you have a private car, travel time is approximately 3 minutes.

Remember that parking is limited and can quickly fill up during the daytime. Sometimes, day trip buses come and occupy most of the area immediately. But, don’t worry if you arrive and see the parking full. Often, people stay for a few minutes just to see the view and leave. You won’t have to wait for hours to get your turn.

The best time to visit Gordes’ viewpoint is perhaps 30 minutes before sundown. The tourist buses and most travelers are gone by that time. Only a few photographers should be there.

Gordes, France - sunset view of Gordes from the view point
Sunset view of Gordes Viewpoint
Gordes, France - night view of Gordes from the view point
Night View of Gordes Viewpoint

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6. Glass and Stained-Glass Museum (Musée du Verre et du Vitrail)

Albane46CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the outskirts of Gordes, 4.5 kilometers from the village center, lies the Glass and Stained-Glass Museum (Musée du Verre et du vitrail). This museum houses a unique collection of objects that tell the story of the glass industry, which started 7000 years ago.

Visiting the Glass and Stained-Glass Museum in Gordes is a must, especially for history lovers who want to discover something unusual. This could be a reason to visit Gordes for the art and cultural value the collections in the museum represent.

A visit to the Musée du Verre et du vitrail will be both educational and an opportunity for art appreciation. You can learn about the history of glass-making, the techniques used (molding & blowing), and the culture embodied in them.

Some of the exhibits will show you the design preferences of the affluent people in the Middle East or Europe back in the day. Other collections will tell you how faith influenced the design of stained glass.

Here is the exact location of Musée du Verre et du vitrail in Google Maps:

Musée du Verre et du vitrail is open Monday, Wednesday to Sunday from April to October. It is available from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm with a 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm lunch break. 

The entry fee to Musée du Verre et du vitrail is 5 EUR/adult. A guided tour (reserve by sending an email to interluberon@orange.fr) lasts for an hour. For more information, you can check the official website of Gordes.

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7. Village des Bories

Gordes, France - Village des Bories
Village des Bories

Fascinating discoveries in Gordes extend beyond the Saint-Firmin Palace Caves and the Glass and Stained-Glass Museum. To the hilly southwest of Gordes, you’ll find Village des Bories, an outdoor museum featuring ancient stone huts.

Visiting Village des Bories is a must-see in Gordes as it’s one of the most unusual human settlements in France. If you enjoy discovering unique architecture, the Village des Bories could be a compelling reason to visit Gordes.

In essence, Village des Bories is a temporary settlement from the 17th century, constructed entirely from stones stacked together. This is considered an ancestral art of building, a testament to the ingenuity of the early settlers.

The creation of Village des Bories began when the population of the villagers exploded in the 17th-18th centuries. This increase in population led to a massive rise in demand for food, forcing the villagers to find more ways to sustain themselves.

Their solution was to plant more so they could harvest more. However, there was a problem. The land they owned wasn’t fertile—it was full of rocks and stones that impeded the growth of the crops. So, the villagers decided to extract the stones from the ground.

Being resourceful, the villagers didn’t just leave the removed stones. Instead, they used them to construct their homes. The result is the spectacular stone-stacked houses, walls, and barns that are now considered historical monuments.

The construction of Village des Bories is truly amazing. It must have required a great deal of work and effort from the settlers to learn how to build and balance the stones so the houses wouldn’t collapse.

The craftiness of the villagers is particularly evident in the arches and doorways. Village des Bories is meticulously preserved. Even the sheep pens, bread ovens, and alleys remain intact.

Additionally, some houses display items such as vases, wooden chairs, and pots that the villagers used in their daily lives.

For more information about Village des Bories, consider checking their official website. There, you can find the current admission rates, opening hours, access and parking options, and more.

Gordes, France - the curved ceiling of the houses in Village des Bories
Curved ceiling houses in Village des Bories
Gordes, France - Village des Bories entrance to a stone house
Village des Bories entrance to a stone house

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8. Sénanque Abbey

Gordes, France - the view of Senanque Abbey Lavender Field
Senanque Abbey Lavender Field

If you’re in Gordes during the Lavender season, which runs from mid-June to mid-August, you must not miss seeing Senanque Abbey. This Abbey is one of the most picturesque places in Provence during the season, a fact attested to by thousands of online influencers!

The lavender field in Senanque Abbey’s yard is the primary feature attracting tourists to the site. However, there’s more to experience than just its visual appeal. Senanque Abbey has been home to the Cistercian monks since the 12th century. It boasts quaint Romanesque Cistercian architecture, a countryside vibe, and religious serenity that together can provide a mind-calming trip.

Indeed, it’s not just a destination for beautiful scenes, but also a place for introspection and contemplation. If you’re looking for a soul-searching destination, Senanque Abbey could be it.

During your visit, you’ll be allowed to see different parts of the abbey, including its church, the monks’ cells, the chapter house, and the calefactory. And let’s not forget its cloisters, which, for me, are the next most picture-worthy spot in the abbey.

If you wish to visit Senanque Abbey, you need to book a tour on their website. You can’t simply walk into the abbey as there are schedules to follow to prevent the abbey from being overwhelmed with tourists.

Previously, only guided tours were available and access inside was limited. Now, the abbey offers more visiting programs, allowing visitors to explore on their own with unguided tours. If you’re not fluent in French, I recommend visiting the abbey on unguided tours because guided tours are conducted in French.

With the unguided tours, you’ll receive a histopad which is available in 10 languages (English, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Polish and Portuguese).

Here’s another important thing to know before your visit: The Abbey of Sénanque is a sanctuary for monastic life. Visitors are asked to maintain silence and dress appropriately to respect the prayerful atmosphere. It’s important to note that the abbey, being a medieval structure, has numerous stairs. This makes it difficult for disabled individuals to access, especially those in wheelchairs.

For more visiting information about Senanque Abbey, you can check its official website where you can find the guided tour schedule, schedules of unguided tours, access and admission fee.

Joining a tour/day trip is another way to visit Senanque Abbey. You can check the available tours to Senanque Abbey here. I highly recommend it to make your trip seamless.

Gordes, France - cloister of Senanque Abbey
Cloister of Senanque Abbey
Gordes, France - the view of Senanque Abbey
Senanque Abbey
Gordes, France - Senanque Abbey Lavender Field Close-up view
Senanque Abbey Lavender Field Close-up

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Best Time to Visit Gordes

Still planning to visit Gordes? Well…

While Gordes is a destination that can be visited all year round, there are specific months when it becomes simply irresistible. From mid-June to mid-July, the weather is perfect for wandering in the medieval village, and the surroundings are visually stunning. This period marks the lavender season when the fields of Provence turn a spectacular purple.

Summer is also the time when most attractions are open to the public, so you can make your visit to Gordes truly worthwhile.

However, be aware that this is also the peak season, and you should expect crowds in every corner of Gordes! Many tourists come on day trips in buses, so if you prefer a quieter trip, you might need to adjust your expectations. On the bright side, it’s during this time that the village is most alive.

If you’re more interested in architecture and beautiful scenery and not particularly drawn to the lavender fields, you might consider visiting during the shoulder season or the low season.

However, keep in mind that Provence experiences the most rainfall during October and November. Since you need to be outside to appreciate Gordes and its nearby attractions, you might want to avoid visiting the village during these months.

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How Long to Visit Gordes

The amount of time you’ll need in Gordes depends on the activities and tourist attractions you plan to do and visit.

Ideally, a day would be enough to see the highlights inside the medieval village such as Gordes Castle, Saint-Firmin Caves, exploring the caladed streets, and visiting the viewpoints. You could also visit one nearby attraction like Senanque Abbey, Glass and Stained-Glass Museum, or Village des Bories.

However, if you want to see all the unmissable attractions within the medieval village and visit the ones nearby, two days would be ideal. Staying in Gordes for two days gives you the advantage of being able to see the village during the golden hour, which is absolutely beautiful. It’ll also give you an opportunity to experience the quaint place during the night.

Here’s how you can spend two days in Gordes: On the morning of your first day, explore the village until lunch. In the afternoon, go to Senanque Abbey and join the tour. Finally, before the sun sets, be at the viewpoint where you can behold the golden hour view of the village on top of the hill.

On the next day, start your day visiting Gordes’ castle, church, and caves. In the afternoon, visit Village des Bories and the Glass and Stained-Glass Museum.

You can find the best hotel deals in Gordes here.

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How to Get to Gordes

If you’re already in the cities in the South of France, getting to Gordes should take no longer than half a day. In fact, if you have a car, you can reach Gordes in approximately an hour. Here is a table of the cities and the travel time between Gordes and each city:

From To Gordes by Train/bus To Gordes by Car
Arles 2h 42m 1h 3m
Avignon 1h 50m 46m
Aix-En-Provence 2h 14m 58m
Nimes 3h 30m 1h 11m
Marseille 2h 48m 1h 5m
Cities near Gordes, France.

Learn more about Avignon — the City of Popes in France.

The data in the table above were gathered from the Rome2Rio travel platform/application. Please note that these data are approximate and may change depending on factors such as demand, traffic, and weather conditions.

Here is the list of links and references for the table above. You can use these links to double-check the data above or book your transport to Gordes.

If you’re traveling in Provence, particularly to Gordes, it’s important to consider renting a car. This is due to the infrequent public transportation in the village. Missing a bus or train could mean waiting a while for the next one, which could waste valuable time.

Having a car can help you get to Gordes and its nearby attractions more quickly. However, if your plan is just to explore the village for a few hours, you might not need to rent a car.

For more information about the buses and trains going to Gordes, you can check the routes and schedules here: Zou! — buses and SNCF — trains.

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Gordes Recommended Tour

As previously mentioned, one day is typically enough to explore the highlights of Gordes. If you have access to a private car, getting to the attractions around the village should be straightforward.

But if you’d rather not rent a car or drive for various reasons (maybe you want to avoid costly car rentals, you don’t know how to drive, you don’t have a license, or you simply don’t enjoy it), your best option would be to join a tour.

These tours take care of all the details for you, including travel arrangements. With their help, your visit to Gordes should be hassle-free. They’re especially handy if you’re part of a group, saving you the trouble of making individual reservations or purchasing multiple tickets for each attraction.

What’s more, some tours provide insider tips and anecdotes to enhance your Gordes experience. This could be advantageous for you in several respects!

You can find all the available tours on this list.

Just to share, I have a passion for hiking and the great outdoors. They’re fantastic for overall well-being. If you share my interests, you might want to try the walking tour from Gordes to Senanque Abbey. This is one of the special tours I’ve found and I think you should discover it too.

On this tour, a dedicated guide will accompany you, helping you discover the best of Gordes all the way to Senanque Abbey. The hiking trail offers scenic views, and you’ll come across several structures similar to Village des Bories.

Since it’s a private tour, you can enjoy every beautiful moment in Gordes and Senanque Abbey at your own pace.

Learn more about Gordes-Senanque Abbey hiking tour from this link.  

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Similar Places Like Gordes

While Gordes may seem like a dream destination, there are actually more beautiful villages in the South of France that you could consider as alternatives. If you’re still planning your itinerary, you might want to check out my recommendations. Like Gordes, these villages offer a blend of different experiences.

My favorites include Chamonix, because I love mountains and the views of the French Alps from this village are stunning; Rocamadour, because I’m a Catholic and this village is not only beautiful but also holy; and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, which is like a combination of Rocamadour and Chamonix. This village offers stunning mountain views, gorges, a lake, and a miraculous church.

Other villages I can recommend are Saint-Paul-de-Vence and Eze, which are great to visit if you enjoy quaint villages on top of a hill with a view of the sea. These two villages are like open-air museums, hosting several art galleries.

If you’re interested in history, you should not miss Carcassonne and Aigues-Mortes. These places have imposing, well-preserved medieval walls that will conjure images of knights and kings in your imagination.

Lastly, for those who want to visit off-the-beaten-path destinations that offer a medieval flair amidst nature, Domme and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie are must-see locations.

Before you leave, you might be interested in reading more articles about France. Take a look at my article on the must-see landmarks in Paris or discover why Lyon is worth visiting for more than just its gastronomy.

So, that’s all I can share about Gordes for now! If you have thoughts or questions, feel free to post them as a comment down below.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you do, please let your friends know about it. Please share!

Thank you! I hope you enjoy your future travels.

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