Gordes: Introduction

The village of Gordes is not located in the Luberon in the strict sense, but further north, on the other side of the valley between the Luberon mountains of the Vaucluse plateau. But all the villages on the southern foothills of the plateau are in the Luberon region The Luberon is a separate mountain range of maritime Provence through the Durance valley. Among thyme and lavender, it is home to villages that look like cribs. A land of contrasts and colors, this is the country of small villages, deep valleys, and the lavender oil mills fields. Sung by poets, inhabited by artists, we offer the discovery of the most famous of its locations: the village of Gordes, considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. Perched on a rocky peak, the top of the 300 meters, Gordes dominates Caladon Valley. The village seems inexorably drawn to the nearby valley and tumbles the steep slope of the hill. His story begins there are 10 000 years, to the Neolithic period so. On this earth, men raise sheep, grow wheat and barley. Then, from Italy, arrive Ligurians who settled on the high points that dominate and monitor paths. Besides names of villages as Manosque or Venasque are Ligure origin. Between the 7th and 5th century BC, it was the turn of investing places Celtic. They come from the great plains of central Europe and spread throughout Western Europe. Some tribes will settle there and over the centuries mingle with Ligurian local populations. This merger will be born a new culture called Celtic-Ligurian civilization. Gordes is the Celtic tribe of Vordenses that installs. They also occupy the high points. But, unlike Ligurian, they better protect their cities and surround them by a wall of dry stones, defended by a fort or castle castrum. The village of Gordes is an example of the Celtic fortified places. In short, now, that's for over 2,500 years men have lived here tirelessly rebuilding of new walls on older, new houses on the foundations of those of their ancestors, a castle on the ruins of the former. Because in the history, the people of this region have always had to take shelter of the people of incursions breaking the Alps or from the sea. Or in more recent times, they had to protect struggles conducted by the local lords before having to protect against disorders caused by religious wars. The only period that does not obey this rule is the Roman period: for 3 centuries about, Provence benefits from the Pax Romana, the Roman peace. The valleys finally become usable places where landowners will install. They are building farm-houses, often luxurious, amid open fields. But from the 4th and 5th century, the Roman empire falters then fall. Troubles begin to be followed by the great invasions. The villages of Luberon back to attack the peaks they had abandoned and surrounded by walls. And therefore, this tight housing in high impregnable places, grouped around the castle became by force of circumstances an essential feature of the Provencal landscape. Abandoned as a lot of difficult access sites to the 19th, the village came out of oblivion since between two wars with the arrival in Provence of painters and artists who find in its walls the inspiration needed to create . We propose to pay a visit to of course foot. This tour through the steep streets of the village will take you about an hour without going into museums and monuments. And now, you can turn off the comment and resume when you arrive at Gordes.

The history of the Château de Gordes.

Before starting with the history of the castle of Gordes it is useful to give you these few indications. If you come by the D15 departmental -The No. 15, past the castle, continue on the same road D15 and park above the village. If you arrive by the D102 through the village, past the castle and take the D15 up the village. But in short, regardless of the side by which you arrive, and regardless of where you park, go to the castle walls, the market place. Arriving at the car park, walk back down to the castle. We will start on the market square, at the foot of the enormous walls. So this: until the 11th century, the place was more of a fortified complex that castle strictly speaking. But in 1070, Raimbaud Agoult had multiple possessions throughout Provence, Simiane Sancie wife he adopted the name and arms. He then built a strong castle or at least a high fortified tower to monitor the plain lying at his feet. And then, in the first half of the 16th century, the castle of Gordes rebuilt as you now see for Bertrand SIMIANE. This rich nobleman had fought alongside Bayard, the knight "without fear and without reproach" of King Francis 1, and, returning to Italy did make major changes. He wanted to introduce his entourage a more enjoyable way of life or at least a way of life more in keeping with the spirit of rebirth: the large windows that open onto the valley let the light and the midday sun can finally warm la

rge reception rooms inside. Over the ages, the castle will pass from hand to hand. In the 18th, we find it in the family of the princes of Soubise then in that of the princes of Conde. But this region suffered much religious wars and little investment in infrastructure were made there between 16C and 18C centuries. And like many of these Provençal sites outside of major transportation routes, the castle was abandoned and used as a quarry stones to the inhabitants of the region who were there already worked material and free. And the castle no longer exists as a ruin if Vasarely, the abstract painter of the 60s, was partially funded its restoration. And that's actually the whole village who found a reason to live in the 20th century when the cubist painters, influenced by Cézanne and Braque came explore a region whose natural beauty in direct response to their aspirations of shapes and colors. It is the painter André Lhote who first, came to settle in the village in 1938 followed by Chagall and Vasarely more recently. With them or after them, many Parisian artists came to take their summer quarters in the area, transforming this forgotten corner of the Luberon in "Summer Latin Quarter".

At the entrance of the castle of Gordes

We are in the castle walls. On this side one, there are no openings, but a defense system based on large towers: when looking at the wall, see how the middle and the right are still topped by battlements. The battlements are the top of the round holes charged between the supports of the walkway. This allowed the enemy to send all kinds of projectiles. See the two towers on your left now are the only remains of the medieval castle and they date from the 12th century. The small rectangular windows in the towers are the loopholes from which defenders could shoot arrows without too much risk. The leftmost tower that marks one of the corners of the castle has definitely lost his coronation. The rightmost tower was rebuilt in the 14th or 15th century. Go round it with the right to enter the village ... and then just left on the plot overlooking the street; and extends in front of the Renaissance facade of the castle Admire this little square dominated by the high facade of the stately home. Watch this facade and see how severe architecture of the ramparts, we admired the place just now, has given way to a still important rebirth. The high ground floor is separated from the top floor by a thin cornice like the other floors. The building considered 5. You may have noticed that as one rises, the height of floors decreases. You did see ? And look at the last band under the roof. It passes under the triangular pediments surmounting the windows of the previous level and also pass on the turrets, these kinds of small towers in height that you see on each side of the building. They were used to monitor where their name "watches." We must see a very strong influence of the construction methods of the architects of the Tuscan Renaissance of the 15th century. Each floor is separated from the preceding by a cornice that emphasizes horizontality of the building. Why emphasize the horizontality, we ask. Well, simply to balance its great height. It's true that this kind of building could have something oppressive and channeling all the time the eye upward. The horizontal bands provide visual comfort. The ground floor has very few openings on the square. The windows, 3 per level, put up with differences of heights levels in overlapping to form vertical spans. On each side of the front, at the top floor, small towers at the corners and watchtower are the only to make us remember that this is an ancient medieval castle.

The castle gate

The renaissance castle has been no change since the 16th century. Today it houses the Town Hall of Gordes. Let us now enter the castle through the door that is behind the fountain in the square. amount is reached by a flight of steps leading to a small courtyard where right tourist office and left the entrance to the town hall and museum. We are in the small courtyard. In front of you, notice the beautiful door topped by a triangular pediment. The pediment well mark the footprint of rebirth Provencal inspired directly from the Roman ruins found all over the region. It was the entrance of the castle. Now the entrance is through the left door. It is possible to enter. There are particular pol mara museum, a contemporary Flemish painter and also a magnificent fireplace on the first floor. She has this in particular it occupies an entire side with decorations. Admission is charged.

The street Clastres

We will now go out to take a look at the village. We leave the castle square by the staircase to the left of the fountain. Then we take the church street from below in front of the square, across from the main street. In fact, it is almost in the axis of the front door of the castle. It leads to St Firmin church. From the top of Church Street, we already see below right its high excessively sober and severe facade which dates from the 18th century. The streets of this village are all sloping. On arrival, you notice how the village is built: A stack of houses that climb the south slope of the hill. The road we take to go to church begins with a curious house built overhanging the street, on 4 arches forming a perforated cube on its 4 sides. It looks like a house built on giant stilts. Now move forward a few meters to reach the corner of Church Street and the street Clastres we take on the right. Here we are at the corner of Church Street and the Clastres street on your right. Raising strong head, you see the bell tower of the building that dates from a period before the reconstruction of the church in the 18th and for a long time did belfry office; look what belfry. something weird is noted. Indeed, looking at the middle of the bell: we see a staircase that comes out of nowhere to lead nowhere. It follows the angle of the square tower. It dates from the period of the old church which was destroyed during the reconstruction of it. But since that time, we did not bother to remove the Take the street on your right to Clastres Espace des Arts. Advance to the small alley that descends slightly to the left: it bypasses the front of the church. Take the. This tiny and lovely alley is called here a calade, that is to say, a stone path or paved steep. It leads us to the old hospital for pilgrims of St Jacques now a part of exhibition hall. Notice that the middle of the street is made like a staircase with very low steps. It's easier to use and it's less dangerous than street smooth slope. It was also easier to ride donkeys and mules that were likely to serve as a means of locomotion and transport. The former Hospice of the pilgrims of St Jacques is building along the lane to the right. One part is now the area of ​​the arts. It was built in the 13th century Piedmontese pilgrims who crossed the Alps and arrived by Forcalquier and Apt. We are on the back of the building. Now, this hotel is in the upper part of showroom in the summer.

The street door of Savoy

Continue and go under the arch spanning the street in front of you. We arrive at the door of Savoy. The passage under the arch, we have to take, was one of the gateways to the city and you understand why the hotel for pilgrims of St Jacques was there, right into the village well in the shelter behind the ramparts. These walls, it remains unfortunately nothing and houses were built on location. This door was fortified: look in the arcade. You can see the grooves cut into the stone, traces of the portcullis blocking the entrance during periods of insecurity. These ramparts and fortified gates were still in use at the time of religious wars and allowed Gordes lords to repel the troops of many Protestants in the region. But back to the Savoy have a name: it recalls the name of Beatrix of Savoy, Countess of Forcalquier, who never accepted the suzerainty of the King of France on his statements. Let us not forget that since 1032, the Provence to the east of the Rhone was Empire province. And then Charles of Anjou, brother of St. Louis, married the daughter of Beatrix and inherit Provence. For 2 centuries, it will remain in the hands of the Anjou bequeath to Louis 11 in 1481. Let therefore the door: it leads to a tiny little square that offers a stunning view of the surrounding countryside and we discover the valley that s extends to the mountains of Luberon. Otherwise, continue down the street to the door of Savoy a few meters. At the end of the street, take the lane that goes left. We take the street on the left is where the Church Street. But first, look at the pretty door across the street from the door of Savoy. It dates from the 17th. Note especially the grotesque in the midst of the arc of the door. We call this kind of decor of the arc environment: a staple. Look above the door now: a bit like the ancient buildings, it is surmounted by a carved frieze of geometric motifs. In this country, we use a lot of decorative motifs directly inspired by ancient art in which artists had many relics under the eyes. We also note the beautiful carved wooden door with bronze hammers reflect the shape of the staple. We continue by turning left and go up the other calade, which is Church Street. But the panel is not visible. At the end of the street, turn right onto the belvedere road and walk towards the viewpoint and St firmin cellars. They belong to the palace of the same name whose entrance is located rue du Four. He does not visit. The entrance of the cellars St Firmin is almost at the mouth of Church Street on Belvedere Street, on your right when you get off. They can be visited in season and admission is charged. What can you see? They have rooms carved into the rock of the cliff, Underground tank receiving rainwater drained to the surface in the course of the palace, underground stairs and even an oil mill. They were in constant use over the centuries. Stop at the viewpoint and, again, take your time to enjoy it.

The Church St Firmin

After watching the plain 180 ° ascend straight street of the gazebo. It turns Church Street from the intersection. It's even a street calade: that is to say, a stone path or paved steep. Then we come to the church portal we see the high facade. It is called St Firmin, the name of the bishop of Uzes in the 6th century. Let's look at the facade: it is high or at least it seems very high, because there is no room for a plaza from which one could step back. So, maybe that why the architect has not seen fit to adorn the facade decoration too: no one could appreciate! it is flat and almost undecorated except in its upper part, a triangular front. Now enter take a look inside the building. So, what is the feeling when you walk? Certainly the surprise. Surprised to find such a large space. This church is higher than it Gordes.C'est Castle overlooking the village of its huge mass. We perfectly realize that when coming or leaving Gordes, and you see the village from afar .It a single nave church, that is to say that there is no these small aisles on the sides. It's like a hall. That said, the church is not kept prior to the 18th century and a little disappointing by the poverty of its furnishings and its poor condition. One of the only elements that can be noted is the pulpit. We see right on entering, at the 2nd and 3rd chapel. It is reached by a staircase built inside a pillar between the two chapels. The components adopt the elegant and graceful despite the poor condition of the paint.

The street oven

Let's get out of the building. Leaving the church, go up the street to the house with 4 arcades we've already crossed on the way down from the castle. And turn right just before we take the street from the oven. Here we rue du Four. Lined with shops on the 2 sides, a lovely street is quite typical of the villages of the region. It is narrow and is lined with pretty tall houses that were to be the houses of artisans and affluent shopping until the 17th century. When you walk, notice the window frames worked with research. The ground floor of some yet now house shops and retained on the street the stone bench of the stall in front of the window. Many are unfortunately in very poor condition: the stone is dirty and damaged. It must be said that in this country, the stone used in the construction is a very tender and crumbly stone called the flabby. We continue along this road to the right portal topped with a statuette. It is at about 4O m from the beginning of the street On the right side, before it makes a bend, we come to a beautiful stone portal topped with a small statue of a bishop in a niche. This is St Firmin, Bishop of Uzes, patron saint of the village church. The top of the portal is crowned with battlements and then added not earlier than the 17th. But notice especially the arch above the door is topped with a decor that uses a vocabulary of the 17th century. The triangular pediment is broken in the middle and is supported by a stone panel carved grooves. But the original is no doubt the arc of the portal itself: see how the clip, carved with an acanthus leaf, appears to fall. Note also the large stones angles that are in high relief; this portal was built in a style that says Mannerist style that was born on the 16th to get the attention of the passerby or the spectator. Often this style uses anticlassiques methods. That is the case here where it seems that the gate center stone will fall. Behind this beautiful gate lies a mansion and is surmounted by a loggia terrace. We are in front of Hotel St Firmin private property we saw the entrance of the cellars in the street of Belvedere.

The Rue André Lhote

Continue this road to the end and go back to the center of the village taking to the left the rue André Lhote. We are in this Andre Lhote street dating back to the center of the village, and we are heading towards a big house that has been restored to our right approximately 20 meters it is called House Lhote; you will easily recognize: it is quite large and there in the corner of the house an empty niche surmounted by a canopy-shaped crown. And also, some meters before reaching the corner of the house to the niche, do not miss to watch on your left, through an opening between the houses, you can see a big castle towers. This is one of the oldest. It has retained some of its crowning niches: it dates from the 12th century. Here we are in front of this house to the niche. The facade is very regular, separated horizontally by high stone ledges. The windows, too, were beautiful stone frames that stand out and form a sharp contrast with the facade that is coated. This way of building and organization of the facade recall here the Italian palaces. Note that there is no other decor that you see above the front door. It was the house that Andre Lhote had bought at the beginning of his discovery of Gordes. Andre Lhote is a painter who joined the Cubism in 1912 and participate in the great adventure of the front guards early 20th Braque, Picasso, and many others. But soon he refuses abstraction, and prefers the synthetic representation of his subjects rather than their analytical study. He was also very keen on African art which he used geometric in his works. It was originally painted many works, but also lectures and theoretical writings on the art of painting.

The house with blue shutters

We continue on this street and we come up the stairs that are to the left of a tiny little square dominated by a house with blue shutters Climb the stairs and go left. We are in the main street and we return to the castle. In the street between 2 shops, do not miss to go once, sometimes to the left, check out the plain, sometimes to the right, take a look at the walls. We still see the huge buttresses in the walls of houses occupying the ancient walls. The houses cling to the old tower which we have already had a vision while ago when we were in front of the beautiful hotel restored Lhote. You can turn right on the small street of harness that brings us back to the castle square in front of the fountain. And it is here that ends our walk in Gordes. It is thereby possible to continue the discovery of Provence and the Luberon by a site quite particular the village of Roussillon, about 6 km from Gordes. Just follow the arrow directions Roussillon taking D2 then the D102. There is no risk of getting lost, because everything is well signposted. And before Roussillon, we suggest you visit the Bories village, right next to Gordes. C is a very special place, a village without inhabitants that still retains its veil of mystery: it is composed of Bories which are species of stone huts where even the roof is stone .