Alpes-Maritimes (06620) Population: 294 Altitude: 760 m
Gourdon is an ancient perched village, and it is really perched. It sits on the edge of a rocky spur that juts out about 500m directly above the Loup river where the Gorges du Loup comes out at the Pont-du-Loup village. (The population, by the way, includes the people living in Pont-du-Loup, 360 m straight down below Gourdon.) There are some great views of Gourdon, and a few other lovely sites of the French Riviera, in Hitchcock's 1955 "To Catch a Thief" with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.
Gourdon is one of the Most Beautiful Villages (Plus Beaux Villages) of France.
Gourdon is one of the most picturesque of all the perched villages, and one of the most touristic. It's rated as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, and well deserves the title. The village is full of little boutiques with perfume products, a glass blower who creates intricate masterpieces and loves to talk, an early-17th-century fortress, and several large buses dropping off and picking up tourists.
The château originated as a Saracen fortress in the 9th-12th centuries that evolved into a 13th-century château, and was completely rebuilt in 1610. The beautiful lavoir, just down from the château, is from the 19th century.
The view from the edge of the village is worth adding yourself to the tourist count. You can see most of the coast, all the way to the Esterel; and the Gorges du Loup below is beautiful, with the tall stone pillars from the old, destroyed railway bridge. We stood here in Feb 1999 with Japanese visitor (and Friend of Beyond) Shin and watched a pair of golden eagles in front of the village, and saw paragliders soaring by almost within touching distance.
As for Beyond, take the small road North from Gourdon up to the Plateau de Caussols, visit the Observatoire du CERGA, or stop off about 4 km up from Gourdon and jump off the cliffs with wings on your back.
Gourdon has no "real" commerce: you can buy souvenirs, perfume, blown-glass and some good honey spice bread, but there are no food markets, bakeries or other similar shops.
History of Gourdon
First record, 1035 De Gordone
Prehistoric: The prehistoric grottos of Garagaï are located on the route de Grasse
Gallo-Roman: There are numerous oppidum and other Roman sites in the region, including at Bas-Montet, Haut-Montet, Colle Basse, La Combe, L'Embarnier, Le Collet des Escravuires, La Lauve and Segovo. The Gallo-Roman engraved stela that was at the Chapelle St-Vincent has disappeared.
Medieval: A possession of the Counts of Provence until 1235; part of Grasse-Bar until the 13th century; passed to Villeneuve-Flayosc by marriage; the Seigneurie des Borriglione took possession in 1550; passed to the Lombard family who rebuilt the château.
Tel : 0493 42 54 83; Fax: 04 93 09 40 21
• GPS: 43.72026, 6.978719
IGN (1/25,000) #3643 ET "Cannes, Grasse, Côte d'Azur"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #26 "Pay d'Azur"
Gourdon has a great place for lunch: the Taverne Provencal, with excellent food, reasonable prices, and a fine view of the coast from the outdoor terrace.
We were admonished by a Beyond reader for playing favoritism here, but the Taverne Provencal is simply the only one we've tried recently. There are 5 restaurants in Gourdon, including the restaurant creperie La Fringale du Petit Indien. From our many years experience in this part of France, we can state that you will probably get friendly service and great food, at the appropriate prices, for whatever class of restaurant you try.
One bus a day from Grasse for Cipières and Gourdon, leaves Grasse at 15h30, from Mon-Fri.