May 25, 2012
Without wanting to sound like a cliché, the village of Gordes truly is a hidden gem on the Cote d’Azur. Built into a rock and clinging cosily to the face of a cliff, Gordes’ presence cries out a million tales and legends.
Whilst the beauty and overall charm of many of the villages and towns on the Cote d’Azur is augmented by the narrow cobbled streets that climb, wind and descend through a labyrinth of marvels, delights and treasures, the cobbled streets of Gordes, which gently coil past tall stone houses, stunning architecture, picturesque squares, until they finally reach the zenith of the village’s assets – a castle standing proudly atop the hill, keeping a watchful eye over the Gordes’ villagers and equally as beautiful Luberon valley in the distance.
This impressive castle was originally built in the tenth century and was rebuilt in 1525, and brings together a unique amalgamation of architecture from the medieval period and hints of a more contemporary Renaissance period. The inspiring castle is now home to Gordes Town Hall and the Pol Mara Museum, in honour of the late Flemish painter, Pol Mara.
Pol Mara died in 1998 and spent much of his life living in Gordes, where he was inspired by the beauty of the village and its surroundings. Although a visit to the Pol Mara Museum is not for the physically unfit, as to experience the museum in its most splendid form, one is required to climb a spiral Renaissance staircase that leads to the top of the castle, where one can then begin a transfixing chronological tour of the life and work of this extraordinary painter.
Visitors can take their time ambling around three storeys of Pol Mara’s masterpieces. The Pol Mara tour concludes on the first floor of the castle what is now Gordes Town Hall in a magnificent reception room where the Flemish artist’s so-called last dreams and phantasms are displayed next to an ascetic yet equally as domineering fireplace.
Walk outside this magnificent castle and the Pol Mara Museum and take an exhilarating look in across the fields upon fields of lavender that carpet the Luberon valley below in the summertime – The Cote d’Azur doesn’t come much prettier than this!