Article and photos by Josette King
Gordes is a historic hilltop village of the Luberon
On a drive through the mountainous back roads of Provence, France a few years ago, I stopped at the top of a steep hill, mesmerized by the scenery. On the other side of the precipitous valley, clinging to a sun baked peak overlooking the glorious vistas of the Luberon, was one of the most stunning French villages perchés (hilltop villages) I had ever seen. It started at the very top of the precipice with a rambling fortified castle and church. From there, pale limestone homes and terraced gardens planted with silvery olive trees cascaded all the way to the valley floor. “Gordes,” the road sign announced, its arrow pointing in the opposite direction from the one where I was expected. I only had time to snap a few pictures before driving off with the promise that I would return, someday.
The property is perched above a steep valley
I did return recently, with Gordes as my destination this time, and La Bastide de Gordes and Spa my home. From there, I enjoyed exploring such local jewels as the remote Abbaye de Sénanque, a medieval Cistercian monastery built nine hundred years ago and still active today; and the apricot-colored village of Rousillon, surrounded by the brilliant red quarries of one of the largest ocher deposits in the world, both a mere 15 minutes away. So was the intriguing Village de Bories, a settlement of dry-stone habitations including sheep pens, bread ovens and wine vats dating back to the Bronze Age.
Village de Bories
Abbaye de Senanques
But best of all, there was La Bastide de Gordes itself. At the time of my hurried glimpse from the opposite side of the valley, I had mistaken it for a lovely country manor with its cloistered terraces and hanging-garden swimming pool. I loved discovering it now as a luxurious boutique hotel with a warm family-like atmosphere, peerless views of the hills of the Luberon and the Alpilles, a superb restaurant and a wonderful Sisley Spa (one of only three in France). Once again, I left with the promise that I would return, soon I hope. Visit the Simon & Baker Travel Review to read more about my visit to La Bastide de Gordes.