Around France

Lost in the Luberon: Gordes, Goult and Menerbes

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Anyone who knows me well recognizes that I’m “directionally challenged.” Compared to my recent visitor from the States, I’m  “Amelia Earhart” — and we know how that worked out.

When I learned my hometown friend, whom I hadn’t seen in 40 years, was coming to visit me in Uzes, right away I started planning her trip. One that we’d both enjoy. For sure, I couldn’t go back to Nimes and Pont du Gard. Been there, done that, too many times. An over-night stay in a bastide in the Luberon sounded like a good idea. That, along with a few day trips from Uzes would give her an overview of this region of France and it would give us both a taste of Provence during a time of year when there are not so many tourists.

For our road trip to Provence,  my friend Pat brought along her Rick Steves’ guide book. I had an overview summary of the Luberon’s “golden triangle” that was given to me by a friend. We bought a map of Provence the day we started our journey. Basically the plan was to drive to L’isle Sur la Sorgue for the antique market on Sunday, then back to Uzes.  On Tuesday and Wednesday we’d “explore” Gordes, Goult, Lacoste, Menerbes, and Roussillon. If there was time, we’d drive into Aix en Provence.

The route from Uzes to Gordes is through Avignon, about 65 kilometers. Driving to the villages we’d pinpointed would be like riding in a circle: 30 kilometers around.. Towns are very close together.

 

Map of Luberon Route

Map of Luberon Route

Sounds easy enough, right? Not!

Even Rick Steves says “you’re going to get lost”. 

 

Uzes to Avignon

That was easy. I knew the way. I’ve traveled back and forth to the train station in Avignon several times.

Leaving Avignon was when the problems started.

Pat unfolded the map of Provence for the first time. We’d been too busy talking to think about it before now.

“Oh, look, a map!” said Pat, as if surprised to find it on her lap.  “Guess this is what we brought it for,” she declared.

Probably a good idea to take a look now,” says I.

With that, my small friend unfolded the huge map which quickly consumed her and her side of the car. (Did I mention Pat is 5’2″ compared to my 5’9″? We’re the real “Mutt and Jeff” duo.)

Pat,” I exclaimed. “I can’t see!”

Pulling over to the side of the road we folded the map together into a size that Pat could manage in one hand.

The road to  L’isle Sur la Sorgue was the best route on the map. However, we’d been there two days before. So, we decided to try another way.

Big mistake! Every road we took went back to Avignon.

After an hour and a half circling Avignon, I said: “Wonder if we can find the route on my iPad on Mapquest?”

If you’re thinking “why didn’t they have a GPS?” let me explain. Remember the saga of the lost iPhone?After I found that the iPhone was in the back seat of Lucy — not in the trash bin or stolen — I returned to SFR in Nimes several times to fix various problems. The last visit was Monday, the day before our trip to the Luberon. That’s when the nice SFR guy that speaks English discovered the iPhone is broken. He sent it off to be repaired and gave me a Google phone. It didn’t dawn on me to load Mapquest on the substitute phone. Making a phone call was hard enough. Besides, we were only going 100 kilometers away. 

Mapquest came up on the iPad. Even though there was limited reception, we had a map and a dot to follow. (I won’ tell you how long it took us to figure out which dot was “Lucy” and which dot was our “destination.”)

Gordes

Market day in Gordes, which was the first destination on our trip plan, was almost over by the time we reached the village.  

 

Market day in the village square in Gordes.

Market day in the village square in Gordes.

 

 

 

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Shopping was not so much on our minds as finding a place to eat lunch. Tourists filled up most of the spaces in the restaurants and cafes.

Cafe in Gordes

Cafe in Gordes

 

 

Crowded cafe in Gordes

Crowded cafe in Gordes

We ended up in an out-of-the-way cafe where we weren’t expecting much, but to our delight …

Roasted aubergine and peppers on fresh greens

Roasted aubergine and peppers on fresh greens

 

Caesar salad Provence style

Caesar salad Provence style

 

How can you miss having a great meal in Provence? 

Luberon Villages at a Glance

With the villages of the Luberon so close together, the look and feel of each begin to blend together — especially when you’re lost.  These photos will give you a view of the towns and the countryside as we saw it — wherever it is. 

Road leading to Gordes

Road leading to Gordes

 

 

 Village square in Gordes with WWII memorial

Village square in Gordes with WWII memorial commemorating the strength of the resistance army.

 

 

 

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Narrow streets with stone walls and houses

Narrow streets with stone walls and houses

 

 

 

Villages with churches as the main attraction

Villages with churches as the main attraction

 

 

 

Public gathering places with ancient shade trees and stone arches

Public gathering places with ancient shade trees and stone arches

 

 

 

Views that take your breath away

Views that take your breath away

 

 

 

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Hilltops and valleys

 

 

 

Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance

Chateaus and tall cedars in the distance

 

 

 

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Colorful villages paved with stone walkways and roads

 

 

 

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Architectural details from an ancient past

Architectural details from an ancient past

 

 

 

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Winding roads that go from village to village

Winding roads that go from village to village

 

 

 

Next stop: The Red Hills of Roussillon

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10 replies »

  1. I have a French friend living in Goult and I hope to see some photos of there as I have not yet been able to visit!!

  2. Fun story! I’m amazed how much that area looks like Tuscany in Italy. We had a gps in Italy but it pronounced all the street names in Italian which we couldn’t understand. We stayed lost all the time! Don’t feel bad. Clea wouldn’t stop and let me ask directions because he insisted the we couldn’t understand Italian.
    Point and wave works sometime!

  3. Lots of fabulous photos here Debby. Sounds like you had a lot of fun on this trip. I love the map reading drama. Many women seem to have difficulty with map-reading, certainly among those I have met in the UK. I have no idea why.

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