One of Provence’s quintessential “perched villages,” Gourdon may be small in size, but not in stature; it stands atop a soaring rocky outcropping, which makes it one of the Provence backcountry’s most picturesque and popular sightseeing stops. Visitors shouldn’t miss the Château de Gourdon, which has over 1,000 years of history. Its planned gardens—which offer a pretty green escape—were designed by André Le Nôtre, who created the gardens at Versailles. Other stops include the Église Saint-Vincent (a church with medieval origins), and the much-photographed public fountain at the village’s entrance.
Gourdon can be visited on numerous full-day tours of the Provence backcountry; leave the driving and logistics to someone else, and look forward to visiting multiple scenic villages on one day. Many itineraries include stops at nearby Grasse, the spiritual home of France’s perfume industry; Saint-Paul-de-Vence, once frequented by Picasso and Chagall; and Tourrettes-sur-Loup, another hilltop highlight.
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Things to know before you go
- If visiting Gourdon, come prepared with cash; the village boasts numerous souvenir shops and artisans selling perfumes, handmade goods, and local treats.
- Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen; given its exposed, hilltop position, Gourdon experiences strong, direct sunlight during the summer months.
- Be sure to bring your camera, as Gourdon’s views encompass 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the French Riviera.
- Though parts of the village are hilly and uneven, Gourdon is mostly paved throughout, and wheelchair-accessible.
How to get there
Gourdon is located in inland Provence, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Nice. Sightseeing coaches connect the city with area highlights like Grasse and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. If you’re traveling from Nice, Cannes, Antibes, or another coastal base, head inland via the D3; the drive is typically under 60 minutes.
When to get there
Sun-soaked Gourdon attracts peak visitors during the summer holidays, when the combination of soaring temperatures, direct sunlight, and crowds of sightseers can make for a chaotic scene. To see the village without the crowds, visit during the off-season—or time your trip for the early morning or evening.
The Loup River
Gourdon overlooks the Loup River, and many daytrippers visit both attractions in a single day. The river—known for its dramatic gorges, high cliffs, and waterfalls—is a popular destination for hikers and canyoners. If you have your own car and consider yourself an experienced driver, take a trip down the Route des Gorges du Loup; the narrow balcony road offers unbeatable views of the surrounding scenery, and a thrilling driving experience.
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