Lavender in Gordes

Rolling in Lavender fields at Abbey De Senanque and exploring the hilly town of Gordes (14 July 2015)

Gordes, part of the Luberion region, has been helmed in many tourist websites on Provence as one of the most beautiful villages of France, and after coming here, I can understand why. Gordes has also been mentioned in Peter Mayle’s best selling, famous book – A Year in Provence, which am sure has also helped in attracting curious tourists from round the world. Strangely, I have not read this book yet, and it makes me want to read it after having visited Provence.

First views of Gordes.

Ideally, it would be nice to stay a few nights in the Luberon region and explore the likes of Gordes, Menerbes and Bonnieux. However, given we had limited time, we decided to settle with driving at good speed from St Remy all the way to Gordes, given we had read and heard so much about it. Thankfully, it was only about an hour away.

It’s not difficult to spot Gordes, as our car meandered around the mountain roads, we could see the famous image of Gordes village perched on the hilltop. It was a sight to behold. It was a scorching hot day and we could see some crazy cyclists going up the mountain roads, – definitely out of their minds, and even a Chinese couple fully decked out in their wedding outfits taking pictures in front of the iconic hilly village of Gordes.

Glimpse of the Abbey from way up high on the mountains.

The key highlight in Gordes was to visit Abbey De Senanque, known for its iconic image of the lavender fields in front of it, typically in full bloom from late June to early August. We continued driving up the mountain roads till we figured it did not seem right, and then we saw the Abbey from afar in the green valley.

We made our way down, found a parking spot, unfortunately no shaded carpark to protect the car from this inferno heat, and quickly set about to take our key selfies and jumping shots around here.

Soft grey stone exterior of the Abbey.

We didn’t have a chance to book a guided tour of the Senanque and had to just do our own research about the history of the place while walking around the premises. It was first founded in 1148 and took a century to build – WOW! Presently, a small community of Cistercians still live in the premises, and they keep away very well from the tourists.

So, when visiting here, we should also respect them, which includes not making too much noise and also not wearing any sexy, revealing clothes. Given I am a Carebear, I was exempted from such rules, but for my fellow human friends, please don’t attempt to go full monty like me.

We observed the rules and guidelines before entering the church where services are still conducted. Compared to many other churches I have visited in Europe, the architecture here is almost intentionally austere and simplified, as our eyes gazed up at the tall arched ceilings inside the church. After saying a prayer to God, we made our way out to the beautiful lavender fields.

Iconic lavender fields in full bloom.

My selfie shot in front of the lavender fields. 

More of lavender fields.

It was not easy trying to get a beautiful shot of the lavender fields without having any tourists captured in it as well. It was the peak of summer and throngs of tourists were happy snapping the lavender fields. But we managed to do it finally, and before leaving we visited the church shop, which is a great place to stop by, selling lots of picture worthy postcards, lavender gifts, religious books and rosaries.

Church shop at Senanque Abbey.

After taking countless shots with the gals in front of the lavender fields, we decided to drive to the opposite side where the town of Gordes stood.

At this point, a cold shower would have been ideal, as trust me, although I looked so happy posing with the lavender fields, in reality we were all sweating buckets in the crazy heat. We had to settle for some cold drinks and sorbet at the luxurious La Bastide De Gordes hotel, which offers fantastic views of the Luberon Valley. We then made our way to the heart of the old town where the castle and church stood. We quickly walked around and admired the old stone buildings, and I love the tiny streets with the charming old doorway and arches throughout the town, feels rather romantic.

The center of the village with the church and castle.

The town is pretty small, and we eventually found ourselves at one of the key viewing points which offers an amazing panaromic view of the Luberon valley.

Beautiful panaromic view of the valley.

Tips on visiting Gordes

  1. If you wish for a guided tour of the Abbey Senanque, must book it online at least 48 hours in advance. Maximum of 50 people are allowed in the tours (conducted in French, but with brochures in other languages), which not only covers the main church but also shows the monk’s domitory.
  2. Apparently, as I researched online, retreats are also welcome for those who wish to just take time off to meditate and stay in the Abbey (at 30 euros a day). To request a retreat, write to the Frère Hôtelier (hospitality brother) at Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, 84220 Gordes France.
  3. Gordes market takes place every Tuesday morning in the heart of the village, so if you wish to visit the market, you could do this whole area in a Tuesday.
  4. If you are obsessed with seeing more lavender fields in summer, Sault is apparently the best place to view them in addition to Abbey Senanque (approximately 1 hour drive from Gordes).

A final selfie shot in front of Gordes before we leave.

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