Gordes, Village des Bories & Roussillon Tourist Attractions
Gordes, some 40km/25mi east of Avignon, is world-famous for its extremely picturesque situation on the steep slope down from the Plateau de Vaucluse to the valley of the Coulon. In the 1950s Gordes was often neglected, but today it is one of the most visited places in Provence. This "village perché" is dominated by its 16th century castle. The best view of Gordes is to be had from the the road leading up from Cavaillon.
Castle and Musée Vasarély
The fortified castle in Gordes, flanked by corner-towers, was erected in 1540 and served as a medieval fortress. Features of that time are the doorway and windows, as well as the richly decorated fireplace (one of the finest Renaissance fireplaces in France) in the Great Hall.The castle was made available to Victor Vasarély for his "Didactic Museum" (Musée didactique) in appreciation of his having met the costs of restoration. The Hungarian painter (born 1908) is one of the most important artists of Constructivism and Op-art.As well as abstract paintings which consist primarily of flat geometric forms, there are also kinetic objects on view. The development of Vasarély from the 30s to the present day is well illustrated.
Village des Bories
The Village des Bories lies 2km/1mi south of Gordes. From the main road a narrow carriageway branches off to the west, it is enclosed in places by walls made of boulders and in spite of stretches of one-way operation cannot be used for large motor or towed caravans. Open: daily 9am until sunset.Bories are built of flat stones without mortar, that is in drystone work, and are generally without windows. The slope of the roof consists of a kind of false vaulting whereby each layer of stone overhangs the one immediately below on the inside, until the slopes coincide in the middle of the roof. These constructions which are quite common in Provence used to serve generally as herdsmen's huts but, as in the case here, rural farms and whole settlements could consist of bories. Examples of this curiously archaic construction had their precursors in the New Stone Age and were built in Provence until the beginning of the 20th C.; they could be put up by an experienced craftsman with no other tool than a hammer.The settlement of bories near Gordes was thoroughly restored in the 1960s. It is probably the largest and most complete of its kind still remaining. The village is surrounded by a wall, scarcely as high as a man, enclosing the five groups of huts. Beside houses and stables there is a bakery, etc.; in a few of the bories farming implements of several periods are exhibited. In a two-story 17th C. house there is instructive literature about this method of construction and its corresponding forms in other countries.The view to the south over the hills covered with maquis (evergreen shrubs) is charming.
The little town of Roussillon lies 10km/6mi east of Gordes in the well-known ochre area between the Plateau de Vaucluse and the Montaine du Lubéron. The whole town reveals the intensive color of ochre which was mined here and which brought prosperity to the citizens as a raw material much in demand for the manufacture of paint, until the competition from synthetic pigments became too great.At the entrance to the town on the left is a parking lot which is often full (there are other lots on the road from Apt in the west on the Rue des Bourgades and in the north on the road leading to D2). From the main parking lot there is a signposted tour of Roussillon.The town is entered through a charming clocktower. Further uphill cross the narrow steps of the rue de l'Arcade and the very pretty Place de la Mairie and go past the church to the "Castrum", an observation platform with an orientation panel. To the north can be seen the Plateau de Vaucluse and further on the broad shape of Mont Ventoux. All around among the woods are ochre rocks, the colors of which vary from violet to light yellowish brown.
Impressive ochre formations, the "Chaussée des Géants" (street of the giants) can be seen from the entrance to Roussillon, to the south of the parking lot. It takes some 30 minutes to reach them; the path is marked and provided with explantory material on tablets. Also very impressive is the "Val des Fées" (view from the Rue des Bourgades to the south). Those with a special interest in ochre rocks are recommended to visit the "Colorado of Rustrel".
Moulin des Bouillons
In Moulin des Bouillons (5km/3mi south of Gordes on D148) can be found the Musée du Vitrail in which glass painting and the art of stained glass church windows in Europe is documented.