A general view of the village of Gordes
|• Mayor (1995–2008)||Maurice Chabert|
|Area1||48.04 km2 (18.55 sq mi)|
|• Density||44/km2 (110/sq mi)|
|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.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Administration
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Land use
- 6 Architecture
- 7 Economy
- 8 Everyday life
- 9 Personalities
- 10 Culture
- 11 See also
- 12 Bibliography
- 13 References
- 14 External links
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 this last 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 est 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 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 south 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).
Occupation by the Roman empire. The area is full of evidence of their occupation especially the Roman road passing through Apt and Carpentras and crossing the valley. Gallo-Roman rests were found in "Bouisses" district (skeletons, amphorae, columns) or Gallo-Roman substructures in the hamlet of "les Gros".
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.
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.
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 his claims of independence. A year later, with the wedding of his 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 did put fire on chariot, wood pieces and houses, blocking potential followers. More than twenty were destroyed. After the Liberation the resistance destroyed an other part of the village, including the notarial house with all the archives. All these destructions brought the municipality the sad privilege to appear amongst three "stricken cities" of the Vaucluse department. By war's end, thirteen persons were killed or executed in Gordes, twenty inhabitants fell under the enemy bullets and five inhabitants were deported out of the country.
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".
Other historical language names
Occitan: Gòrda in classical norm of provencal, Gordo in Mistralian norm
The commune of Gordes has numerous infrastructures of public utility like the "gendarmerie", the fire brigade, the post office, a taxe office, a library, etc.
|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 %|
|Type of ground occupation||Percentage||Size (in hectares)|
|Agricultural zones||34,43%||1 690,74|
|Natural Zones||56,38%||2 768,14|
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.
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".
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 for official matches and one for training, also the nursery, one of the school and after having several simultaneous small businesses (bakery, grocery, etc..) it remains in 2011 only a garage / gas 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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 :
- La vénus de Gordes, Ernest Daudet (1875)
- Sa Majesté l'argent III, La Comtesse De Gordes, Xavier de Montépin, (1878)
- All the books about the adventure of the Chat Moune, Philippe Ragueneau (from 1981 to 1990)
- Les trois Joyaux de Gordes, Marc de Smedt (1988)
- a year in Provence, Peter Mayle (1993)
Film and television
Gordes has served as the setting for several movies or series like :
- One Deadly Summer, Jean Becker (1983) ;
- Mistral's Daughter, Kevin Connor (1984) ;
- A Year in Provence, David Tucker (1993)
- Gazon maudit, Josiane Balasko (1995) ;
- 18 ans après, Coline Serreau (2003);
- A Good Year, Ridley Scott (2006);
- Mr. Bean's Holiday, Steve Bendelack (2006).
- (French) Jean-Louis Morand, GORDES notes d'histoire, mairie de Gordes
- (French) Gérard Lebouchet, Aspects de la Vie à Gordes de la Révolution à l'Aube du XXe siècle, C'est-à-dire, 2007 (ISBN 2952756414)
- (French) Guy Leduc, Gordes, acropole en Provence, Edelgé (ISBN 2-916188-00-2)
- (English) Sylvain Gagniere, The Origin of the Region of Gordes, 1989
- (French) Corinne et Alexis Lucchesi, Guide du Pays de Gordes, Equinoxe, 2003 (ISBN 2-84135-301-X)
- (French) Jean-Louis Morand, Gordes & l'Abbaye de Sénanque. Le temps retrouvé, Equinoxe (ISBN 2-908209-11-X)
- (French) Jacqueline Brotte, Gordes : Un rêve de pierre, Alain Barthelemy, 2006 (ISBN 2879232260)
- (French) Atlas du parc du Luberon
- GORDES notes d'histoire by Jean-Louis Morand page 9.
- GORDES notes d'histoire by Jean-Louis Morand page 17 to 24 / "L'époque romaine".
- GORDES notes d'histoire by Jean-Louis Morand page 39 to 53, "Histoire de Saint Chaffret"
- GORDES notes d'histoire by Jean-Louis Morand page 249 to 253 "Le château de Gordes" then page 205 to 216 / "Généalogie des familles".
- (French) Article from the "bulletin municipal" of Gordes, 1986.
- (French) local taxes, Gordes
- INAO, April 2007
- (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/hebergement2.html
- (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/gastronomie2.html
- (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/patrimoine2.html
- (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/contact2.html
- (English) http://www.gordes-village.com/html/evenements2.html
- (French) moves on the area of Gordes
- successful mini-series, starring Lindsay Duncan and John Thaw
- mainly on Gordes at the village des bories
- mainly on Gordes between the castle and the Rosier building
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