For the town and district in the Aegean region of Turkey, see Gördes.

Coat of arms

Coordinates: 43°54′43″N 5°12′03″E / 43.9119°N 5.2008°E / 43.9119; 5.2008Coordinates: 43°54′43″N 5°12′03″E / 43.9119°N 5.2008°E / 43.9119; 5.2008
Country France
Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Department Vaucluse
Arrondissement Apt
Canton Gordes
  Mayor (1995–2008) Maurice Chabert
Area1 48.04 km2 (18.55 sq mi)
Population (2010)2 2,113
  Density 44/km2 (110/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 84050 / 84220
Elevation 111–635 m (364–2,083 ft)
(avg. 373 m or 1,224 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Gordes is a commune in the Vaucluse département in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. The residents are known as Gordiens. The nearest big city is Avignon; smaller cities nearby include Cavaillon, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Apt.


The territory of Gordes occupies some of "Les Monts de Vaucluse", a group of mountains and hills, part in the valley of the Calavon (a local river) also called the "Luberon Valley".


The main access to the village of Gordes is the departmental road D2 then the departmental road D15, coming from Cavaillon. It is from the latter road, below the Bel-Air rock, that you can observe the most famous and photographed point of view of the village.

Gordes is located 38 kilometres east from Avignon and its TGV station, 75 kilometres from the Marseille Provence international airport and 87 kilometres from Marseille. The closest "gares SNCF" (normal train station) are located in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Cavaillon.

Neighbouring communes

Neighbouring villages are : Venasque and Murs to the north, Joucas and Roussillon to the east, Goult, Saint-Pantaléon, Beaumettes and Oppède to the south and Cabrières-d'Avignon and Saumane-de-Vaucluse to the west.


Located between two geographic area, Gordes is one of the biggest communes of the area with 4 804 hectares. The north is defined by the southern edge of the monts de Vaucluse. It is in this area that you will find, at 635 meters, the highest point of the commune, next to « la Pouraque » and « les Trois Termes ». The south of the commune is made by valley of the Calavon, also called the Luberon Valley, and few hills of the area. It is in the south that you will find the lowest height of the commune, at 111 meters, in the area called « plan de l'Alba ».

The village itself is located in the center of the commune, on a giant calcareous rock from the monts de Vaucluse, dominating the valley.


With a wide variation of the land, geology of the commune is divided into several distinct zones.

Thus, there is at north, on the monts de Vaucluse, soils dating mainly of Upper Jurassic with urgonian limestone and calcareous clay. There are also, in very low amounts and really localized over the Senanque Abbey, soils dating from the Eocene / Oligocene composed of limestones, sands and clay.

Geology at the south of the village is more complex with the plain in Gordes (southeast) composed of soil dating from the Quaternary (fluvial deposits, colluvium and scree) and soils of Late Jurassic (calcareous clay and blue marl). the hills area of "les garrigues" (at south of the village) is composed of soil dating from the Cretaceous – Paleocene (calcareous sandstone, calcareous lacustrine clay, colorful, white and ocher sands and some ferruginous) and from the Miocene (molasses limestone, sand and marl). Finally, the soil of the territory down to the plain of Calavon with some slightly higher ground dating from the Miocene and one lower from the Quaternary.


Gordes has a Mediterranean climate characterised by relatively dry summers and cool, damp winters. The city is often subject to windy weather; the strongest wind is the mistral.

In summer, high temperature associated with a reduced amount of rain makes a drought almost one or two months a year according to the "Gaussen index" (temperatures in Celsius degrees twice higher than rains in millimeters).[1]


The name "Gordes" derives from the Celtic word "Vordense". Vordense was pronounced Gordenses, then Gordae/Gordone, and finally Gòrda then translated into French "Gordes".[2]

Early history

Occupation by the Roman empire.[3] The area is full of evidence of their occupation especially the Roman road passing through Apt and Carpentras and crossing the valley. Gallo-Roman remains were found in "Bouisses" district (skeletons, amphorae, columns) or Gallo-Roman substructures in the hamlet of "les Gros".

The view from north of the castle shows the ancient and the Renaissance parts.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

In the 8th century, a Benedictine abbey known as Saint-Chaffret was founded by monks of the Abbey of Saint-Chaffre in Monastier-en-Velay on the site of an ancient cella (Roman temple) destroyed during the Arab invasions.[4]

In 1031, a castle was built and the Latin word "castrum" was added to what thus became "Castrum Gordone". The castle was re-enforced in 1123 to become a "nobile castrum", the only one known among the many castles nearby.[5]

In 1148 the Sénanque Abbey was established under the patronage of Alfant, Bishop of Cavaillon, and Ramon Berenguer II, Count of Barcelona, Count of Provence, by Cistercian monks who came from Mazan Abbey in the Ardèche.

After the death of King René of Provence, the territory of Provence was incorporated in 1481 into the kingdom of France as a "province royale française" (French royal province). An insurrection broke out in the former states of Agoult-Simiane and County of Forcalquier. Gordes is distinguished by a strong opposition to French centralism but will pay heavily for its claims of independence. A year later, with the wedding of itss son, Jacques Raybaud de Simiane takes the title of "Baron de Gordes".

Second World War

During World War II, Gordes was an active resistance village and was later awarded a medal, the Croix de guerre 1939–1945.

On 21 August 1944, almost a week after the beginning of the Operation Dragoon on the Provençal coast, a German patrol was attacked by the resistance. The day after, 22 August, the village was subject to violent reprisals. The Germans forced the inhabitants to enter their homes, shooting those who were late or that were not cooperating, and started to shoot from the rock on the other side with a canon and destroyed a dozen houses. On the other side of the village, the rest of the troops set fire to a chariot, pieces of wood and houses, blocking potential followers. More than twenty houses were destroyed. After the Liberation the resistance destroyed another part of the village, including the notarial house with all the archives. All these this destruction brought the municipality the sad privilege to appear amongst three "stricken cities" of the Vaucluse department. By war's end, thirteen persons had been killed or executed in Gordes, twenty inhabitants had been shot by the enemy and five inhabitants were deported.

After World War II

After a period of reconstruction, the village started to attract artists like Marc Chagall or Jean Deyrolle who discovered the village in 1947 and will in turn attract artist friends such as Serge Poliakoff, Vasarely, Dewasne, etc.


The primary ones are reported in 1696 in the Armorial Général de France and coming from the Gordes-Simiane family.

The arms of the Gordes family are blazoned :
"de gueules à une gourde d'or".
The arms of the Simiane family are blazoned :
"d'or semé alterné de tours et de fleurs de lys d'azur".
In 1984, new arms are created : "Mantelé d'or à deux gourdes de gueules, et de gueules à une gourde d'or".

The design is clearly based on the Gordes family armory in terms of colors and form.

Other historical language names

Occitan: Gòrda in classical norm of provencal, Gordo in Mistralian norm


The "Hotel Simiane", historical building with the new town office.

The commune of Gordes has numerous infrastructures of public utility like the "gendarmerie", the fire brigade, the post office, a tax office, a library, etc.

Sister cities


Taxation of households and businesses in Gordes in 2009[7]
Tax Communal part Intercomunal part Part for the department Part for region
Housing tax 6.56 % 0.00 % 7.55 % 0.00 %
Property tax on built properties 9.83 % 0.00 % 10.20 % 2.36 %
Property tax on non-built properties 38.51 % 0.00 % 28.96 % 8.85 %
Business Tax 00.00 % 19.99 % 13.00 % 3.84 %


Land use

Type of ground occupation Percentage Size (in hectares)
Urban zones 9,19% 451,34
Agricultural zones 34,43% 1 690,74
Natural Zones 56,38% 2 768,14
Total 100% 4 910,22



Located in the middle of the village, the castle, which was partially rebuilt in Renaissance style in 1525, is a major tourist attraction.

In the immediate vicinity of Gordes is the Romanesque Sénanque Abbey (a Cistercian abbey) and the "village of bories", which consists entirely of "bories" (also spelled "boris", borris" and "borries"), ovoid ancient houses made only of stone.

General rules

One of the calades inside the village.

All the new buildings in Gordes are made of stone and use terracotta roof tiles. No fences are allowed, only stone walls. All electrical and telephone cables have been put underground, except for some locations on the border of the commune not made already. Some streets inside the village are paved with stones and called "calade".

The hamlets

Around the village there are many ancient hamlets. Their names are mostly coming from the family names occupying the places (Gros, Imbert, Martin, Cortasse, etc.) or from the activity performed their (les bouillons, les bouilladoires).

Located in the valley at southwest, the "les Imberts" hamlet is the biggest and even owns its own church built between 1785 and 1792. Besides this church, there are some elements and façades of the 18th century. It is in this hamlet that are the two football stadiums of Gordes. One is for the official matches and the other for training. It has a nursery and a school and having once had several small businesses (bakery, grocery, etc..), in 2011 it now has only a garage / petrol station.

"Les Gros" and "les Martins" are both former hamlets close enough to each other, between les Imberts and the commune of les Beaumettes.

In the plain south-east of the village, you find the hamlets of "les Sauvestres", "les Pourquiers", "les Marres" and "les Cortasses", with buildings whose origins date back sometimes to hundreds years.



Vinyard and olive trees with the roofs of Gordes at the back

As in many villages in the Vaucluse department, agriculture is important. Historically, almond trees were the most planted in the area, and though they are still present, olive trees have largely replaced them. Thus olive oil is important to local commerce. You can also find vineyards, with the production of table grapes or wine in AOC Ventoux.[8]


Tourism is a major part of the local economy of Gordes. Accommodating the tourist trade, there are a number hotels,[9] bed and breakfasts, seasonal rentals, and restaurants.[10]

The main sights on the commune are the village itself, the castle, the Saint-Firmain Palace cellars, the Sénanque Abbey and the Village des Bories.[11] In the surrounding towns, you can find many other tourist locations like Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Roussillon or L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the Luberon area, Avignon or the Mont Ventoux.

Gordes also has two centers of relaxation, numerous pools and ponds and miles of hiking trails.

Commercial activity and handcraft

Commercial activity is also important in the Gordes economy with various shops including several shops dedicated to tourists, selling souvenir and regional products (figurines, textiles, olive oil, honey, etc.). Moreover, a Provençal market is held every Tuesday morning around the castle.

Gordes also attracts artisans and traders in the real estate business like agents, architects, builders, landscapers, decorators, masons. By the way, the oldest real estate agency of the north Luberon area still in activity is located in Gordes, between the castle and the church, and the total number of real estate agents on the Gordes area is over ten.

Everyday life


Market day occurs in Gordes once a week. On Tuesday mornings, merchants from the area set up booths and sell their wares. These typically include food, clothing, instruments, Provençale dishes, decorations, and handicrafts. Additionally, the village has two bakeries and a variety of shops.


You can find on the commune Primary School, Nursery School and Day Care.[12]

Although the closest university is in Avignon, locals also attend slightly more distant universities in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.


The village is home to several doctors, a pharmacy, a dentist and even an hospital but exclusively used for older people.[12]


The commune is equipped with various sport equipment like 2 football/soccer fields, walking and cycling trail, pétanque spaces, etc.


Gordes is also known for artists who have lived or worked there: (André Lhote, Marc Chagall, Pierre Chapo, Philippe Ragueneau, Victor Vasarely, Victor Spahn, Walter Salles, Willy Ronis, etc.) and politicians (including François Mitterrand).


Fine arts and festival

The village of Gordes has a few art galleries and festivals. The biggest festival of Gordes is a music festival, but there is also a wine festival.[13]

The castle, stone houses, stone paved streets, views, etc. of Gordes have been an important source of inspiration for paintings or photography. for example, the Provençal Nude by Willy Ronis was made in the "fontaine basse" area of Gordes in 1949.


You find Gordes in books like :

Film and television

Gordes has served as the setting for several movies or series like[14] :

See also



  1. (French) Atlas du parc du Luberon
  2. GORDES notes d'histoire by Jean-Louis Morand page 9.
  3. GORDES notes d'histoire by Jean-Louis Morand page 17 to 24 / "L'époque romaine".
  4. GORDES notes d'histoire by Jean-Louis Morand page 39 to 53, "Histoire de Saint Chaffret"
  5. GORDES notes d'histoire by Jean-Louis Morand page 249 to 253 "Le château de Gordes" then page 205 to 216 / "Généalogie des familles".
  6. (French) Article from the "bulletin municipal" of Gordes, 1986.
  7. (French) local taxes, Gordes
  8. INAO, April 2007
  9. (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/hebergement2.html
  10. (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/gastronomie2.html
  11. (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/patrimoine2.html
  12. 1 2 (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/contact2.html
  13. (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/evenements2.html
  14. (French) moves on the area of Gordes
  15. successful mini-series, starring Lindsay Duncan and John Thaw
  16. mainly on Gordes at the village des bories
  17. mainly on Gordes between the castle and the Rosier building
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