On my first trip to Provence, I took a day tour from Avignon to see some of the villages of Provence. Although this was over 10 years ago, the memories of these beautiful towns stuck with me. So on our road trip down to the Côte d’Azur, I knew that I had to make a brief detour to see if these villages, specifically the villages of Gordes and Roussillon, were just as beautiful as I had remembered. Spoiler alert: They totally were.
Gordes: In the Heart of the Mountains
Gordes, like Roussillon, has the distinction of being one of “The Most Beautiful Villages in France”. (For more on what qualifications a village has to meet to earn this distinction, check out my previous blog post here.) Gordes, developed in the 11th century, is located right in Vaucluse mountains, which gives it a stunning view of the valley below.
Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to explore the town itself, but the best view of Gordes, as you can see in the photo above, is outside of the village. As you approach the town, there’s a small, free parking area where you can pull over and take photos. The spaces in the parking area were all taken when we arrived, but due to the 5 minute time limit, we didn’t have to wait very long to find a spot. From the parking area, most people walk up the hill to get a good shot, but we found this little road leading down…
And from this road, we had the viewpoint shown below, which put us face-to-face with this beautiful town…
I highly recommend adding this village to your list of places to see in Provence. Another great thing about Gordes is that it’s only about a 20 minute drive to the next one of “The Most Beautiful Villages in France”, and probably one of my personal favorites, which is…
Roussillon: The Orange Ocher Village
Roussillon, located between the Vaucluse Mountains and the Luberon hills, is a village that truly unforgettable due to its orange color. The orange pigment of the buildings and the surrounding landscape is natural, due to the village sitting in the midst of one of the biggest ocher deposits in the world. If you’re like me, wondering what in the world ocher (or “ochre”) is, it’s a clay earth pigment varying in color from yellow to brown to red. Ocher has been used for thousands of years, however it only became a widespread product in the late 18th century, when a Roussillon native came up with the idea of extracting the pigment from the sandy soil.
The best thing to do in Roussillon is just to get lost in the village, enjoying the different pigmented buildings. We parked at one end of the village and did a bit of a loop, walking down one street and coming up another. There’s also a short (30-minute) and long (60-minute) trail called “Sentier des Ocres” that will take you in the middle of these natural ocher deposits. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do it, but hopefully next time!
In this village, the saying holds true that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” With that in mind, walk through this orange village with us…
Our time in beautiful Provence was short, but sweet. We hope to return one day, hopefully during lavender season! But our ultimate destination was the stunning Côte d’Azur, and that’s coming up next…
Until next time,
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