Day 3 in Provence – Gordes, Sault, Rustrel, Les Agnels Lavender Distillery, Roussillon

Day 3 – Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque> Sault> The Colorado Provençal> Les Agnels Lavender Distillery> Orche trail at Roussillon> Dinner at Les Bories Hotel

We spent 2 nights staying in Gordes.  Looking back, we made the right choice staying here rather than the other towns. It is in a perfect central location to explore the Luberon region, as well as being one of more popular spots, with more restaurants, shops and the views of the village from across the valley are spectacular. It is close to some of the major attractions and even better still, some michelin star restaurants nearby.

I wish I could wake up to this view every morning 🙂

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Our hotel is around 15mins drive from Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque. It is one of the must visit sites during the lavender season. Unfortunately, we just missed the lavender season and all we saw was a field of green bushes (supposedly it was lavender) but the smell of fresh lavender was still in the air. Funnily enough, Mr Map didn’t like the smell as it reminded him of the hand soap he used when he was a child, and he reminisced about the countless times he would curse when he was younger and his parents would make him wash his mouth out with the soap – seriously, I couldn’t even make such a ridiculous story up …

With a lot of stops we wanted to make on our second day, we got here even the gift shop was not open. It is recommended to check their opening hours from their official website before your visit.

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We drove back to the Gordes town center and walked past this grocery store. I didn’t realise there were tomatoes in other colors (Mr Map, again lecturing me about his childhood, told me about an old movie he saw when he was young called Fried Green Tomatoes). You can find tomatoes in a lot of different colors and shapes and they all look very yummy – they even taste much sweeter!

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All the local produce looks really fresh and tasty!

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As our room rate didn’t include breakfast, we went to a boulangerie (bakery) at the town center for breakfast.

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Whilst wandering around, we found signs for a view point at the Gordes town center. Follow the signs and you will get to an alley with a view of the region.

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This is the view from the view point. There are a lot of vineyards in the region, a perfect place to enjoy a short stroll.

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After taking a few snaps in Gordes, we drove to Sault in our quest to see if there were any late blooming lavender fields. It is located on the northern part of the Luberon region and our quest led us north, hoping that the colder region would delay the lavender bloom.

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Unfortunately we were too late to see anything apart from some wilted sunflowers, though the views were quite nice.  Not wanting to admit to our failure, we decided to buy some purple lavender from a souvenir shop.

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This is the view of Sault. It is one of the main stops on the lavender tour. Since we have no luck with lavender, we decided to drive back but veered a little to Rustrel to visit The Colorado Provençal.

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This is one of the many lavender fields that we drove past in Sault. I can image how beautiful it would be during the lavender season.

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It was a hot day when we got to The Colorado Provençal and we hadn’t dressed for a hike. We were running out of water as well and the restaurant was empty. In the end, we decided not to hike and went for lunch instead. The ochre cliffs are definitely something different from the lavender fields.

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We then drove to an area called Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt for lunch as we found some good restaurants from yelp & tripadvisor there. We were aiming to go to L’Estrade for lunch but it was closed when we got there. As we got there around 1:30pm ish, the nearby restaurants said we’ve missed their last order.

In the end, we ate at a sidewalk cafe and had our lunch. It was so-so. Lesson learnt, we need to have our lunch before 1pm or most restaurants will stop serving food after 1:30pm. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance if you are going to visit during peak season.

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Next stop after our lunch – Les Agnels Lavender Distillery.

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We had a quick stop at Les Agnels Lavender Distillery to buy some lavender souvenirs. Since we missed the guided tour in the morning and the next tour was in 1 hour, we gave the guided tour a miss this time.

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Les Agnels Lavender Distillery

Opening hours:

From Oct 1 to Mar 31: open from 10:oo to 17:30 Mon to Sat, guided tours by appointment.
From Apr 1 to Sep 30: open from 10:00 to 19:00 every day, guided tour daily at 11:00 & 16:00. Visit also possible by appointment.

Address: Route de Buoux84400, Apt, France

Roussillon – Orche trail

Since we still had a bit of time before dinner, we then drove to Roussillon to see the ochres. The main carpark right in the village center was already full so we had to park our car 10-15mins walk from the village. One of the major attractions of Roussillon is the ochre trail and it is an easy walk for people of all ages. As we missed the hike at The Colorado Provençal, the orchid trail would make up for it.

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There are 2 ochre trails after the ticket office (admission fee €2.5 for adult). One is about 30mins walk while the other is about 60mins walk. We chose the shorter path as we needed to ensure we had enough time to get changed before our dinner which we had pre-booked a long time ago. There were a lot of kids at the trail and they put the ochre all over their face. I definitely wouldn’t wear anything pure white, and definitely not your best shoes there as it will turn orange after the walk.

Soon after, we headed back to our hotel to freshen up, and then headed to a restaurant I had been looking forward to for a long time – Hotel Les Bories for dinner. There is a great view point to take photo of Gordes on the way to the hotel.

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Hotel Les Bories is one of the one star michelin restaurant in Gordes. The other one-star michelin restaurant nearby is Restaurant Peir by Pierre Gagnaire but it is closed on Monday & Tuesday. We made the reservation a few weeks before our arrival and we got a nice table at the outdoor area (actually I had ‘hinted’ to Mr Map about booking the restaurant for a long time, and after a bit more prodding, he got the hint). We were the first table to be seated at the restaurant.

We ordered 2 different set menus.

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You can pick as many cheeses as you want and I ended up having a full plate of cheese! (My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach, as Mr Map had to finish my plate for me)

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They even have live music at the restaurant!

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The food quality was definitely up to my expectations and one of the highlights of our whole trip. I liked the presentation and all the dishes tasted great, my favourites being the cheese and the dessert . The price for a one-star michelin restaurant set menu is quite reasonable (especially when compared to Hong Kong). Though the dress code seemed a little unpredictable. We both dressed in what I would call ‘smart casual’ and yet I felt a bit overdressed even though I thought European restaurants would have a stricter dress code. Mr Map was wearing a nice shirt & long pants and he was surprised to see 2 guys in khaki shorts and loafers being allowed in.

Hotel Les Bories – The Gourmet Restaurant

Opening hours: only open for dinner 19:30 till 21:30 & Sunday for lunch 12:00-13:30; please refer to website for details

Address: Route de l’Abbaye de Senanque 84220 Gordes

Have you been to Luberon region in France? Which area is your favourite? If you enjoy reading my blog, feel free to follow me on twitter @MinionTravel to get the latest update.

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