Provence, France Travel Guide

What to see in Provence France

GordesMy guide, Beatrice, collects me at the Marseilles airport and we head an hour north to the village of Gordes, which is said to be between “the sky and the stones.” Technically, the village is in Provence, but Beatrice sees it differently. “I compare Gordes to New York. New York is not the U.S. and the U.S. is not New York. Gordes is not Provence and Provence is not Gordes.”

La Bastide de GordesGordes sits high on a rocky hill, towering over the valley below, just as it towered over aspiring conquerors long ago. Its castle dates to 1031, and like many fortified towns, Gordes grew in concentric circles around it becoming home to countless craftsmen such as tanners, shoemakers and olive oil makers. However, in the first half of the 20th century Gordes suffered a debilitating loss of population as residents migrated to big cities for work and the town became a shell, falling into ruin.

Enter astute Parisians. They saw in Gordes a haven. It was in sunny Provence, a place they loved, with 300 days of sunshine per year and the real estate was being offered at rock-bottom prices. Smart opportunistic Parisians gobbled up the old properties in the town and began building houses in a Provence style but updated to fashionable Parisian tastes.

A Gordes ShopThe “other side” of Provence

Now, decades later, Gordes is a thriving village offering a charming respite from the touristy and over-trafficked areas of Provence. Call it the best of “un-Provence.” And there’s no better place to rest one’s head here in Gordes than La Bastide de Gordes & Spa.

La Bastide de Gordes stands high upon the fortified hill with stunning views overlooking the valleys and vineyards.Rousillons Ochre Park ld ramparts after vacationing in the village.

Monsieur Mozet likes “to create things, ” and in La Bastides de Gordes, he has created an elegant and very special enclave, among the first hotels in France to be awarded a superior five-star rating. Many of the 38 rooms and suites are charmingly decorated in traditional Provencal style with French country upholstery, painted headboards and terracotta floors, while for guests with a more contemporary bent, there are rooms in tones of silver, beige and pearl. Each blends in harmoniously with the surroundings, keeping things simple. Unlike some five-star resorts, there are no dizzying gizmos and gadgets to figure out, no buttons for sliding doors, no automatic shades or draperies. Instead, here at Bastides de Gordes, I fling open the shutters, throw wide the windows and become one with the scenery — something a button could never replicate in feeling.

Stepping out to a terrace, I soak in the sounds and smells of my surroundings, hearing the hum of cicadas, breathing in the smell of lavender and watching wisps of mist curl above the wooded hills. A church bell brings me back to reality, and I remember that a moment ago I had exploring in mind.

Lavender Museum Distillery Bastide de Gordes
Avalon Travel Publishing Rick Steves' Provence & the French Riviera
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I was in the same spot you were. I suggest

by London_and_Paris

London and Paris.
The euro's a little expensive right now, and the British pound is twice as much as the American dollar, but there's nothing like taking your first trip to Europe.
You could easily spend 1 month in France, maybe even see Amsterdam, for about $4000. They speak English everywhere, and even if you speak French you'll have a hard time getting practice in Paris. You could take a drive into the Provence if you want.
I advise checking out flights on Delta Air, American Airlines or Cheaptickets.com. I got roundtrip tickets from SF to London for $650

'Rendez-vous en France' 2014 Hosts 20000 Operator-Supplier Meetings  — Travel Agent
The ninth edition of the Rendez-vous en France travel trade show kicked off on March 31 with a soirée at the Vulcania theme park outside Clermont-Ferrand.

Fodor's Fodor's Provence & the French Riviera (Full-color Travel Guide)
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DK Travel DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Provence & The Cote d'Azur
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Michelin Travel & Lifestyle Michelin Green Guide Provence (Green Guide/Michelin)
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