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Gordes : the stony Acropolis


GORDES: the stony Acropolis.

Listed among the most beautiful villages in France, the village hangs on a steep headland dominating the Coulon valley.
Houses anchored in the rock, are staged on a 100 feets hight cliff. They seem rising to besiege the church and the castle, which dominate all proudly. The cobbled streets lined with dry stone facades, sometimes confused with the cliff and turned gold at sunset. This spectacular site attracted many artists such as André Lhote, Marc Chagall, Serge Poliakoff, Viktor Vasarely etc, and many film-makers who took the beautiful castle place as a backdrop to their films.

2 exceptional sites and monuments are located on the town : the Senanque Abbey and the village of the bories.

- Senanque Abbey : absolute Cistercian rigor.
Located in a valley where flows the Senancole, surrounded by lavender fields in summer, Senanque is the best preserved of the "Three Sisters of Provence", three Cistercian abbeys founded in the 12th century in Provence. Their architectural resemblance is striking and responds perfectly to the desire of austerity and simplicity displayed by the Cistercian order, in the late 11th century. The monks had to depend on manual work, and to glorify God in a secluded spot, according Saint Benedict’s rule. There wasn’t decoration, nothing superfluous: the walls were bare. The architecture reduced to its simplest expression, subtly lets the light in, as a gjft of God.
A small community of monks still occupies the premises, leaving the oldest part open to the public, in daytime.

- The village of the bories : Bories are dry stone rural huts, which were used as shelters by shepherds. There are more than 400 bories scattered in the countryside, around Gordes.
The Bories village is a hamlet of about twenty bories which, depending on their size, were used as dwellings, as sheepfolds or as farm buildings, till the end of 19th century.