Restoration of the Village des Bories


Understanding the restoration of the Village des Bories

His passion for old stones and the history of Gordes, his attachment to this unique and remarkable site, and respect for the hard work and know-how of our elders were the driving force behind Pierre Viala's rescue that enabled us to reclaim our heritage.

Today, it is one of the most visited sites in Vaucluse.

The following text allows visitors to the Village des Bories to understand the different stages of the Village’s restoration through the story of Pierre Viala, the Village’s original owner and passionate restorer.

« While today, the Village des Bories can be seen in its well balanced architectural setting, at the time of its restoration, it was impossible to get an idea of its layout, as the bories and walls disappeared under the clutter of invading ground cover. The dead mulberry and almond trees, interspersed with the oaks and sprawling junipers that had suffocated them, together with the olive trees frozen in 1956, formed such an entanglement that it was impossible to reach the huts whose rooftops could only be seen in disarray.

It was necessary to clear the brush step by step in order to move freely and discover the overall layout; remove the dead trees and those which had taken root in the walls and under the bories, lifting them up and causing breaches. There were also breaches due to the fact that certain hunters of the rich pre-myxomatosis hunting period did not hesitate to demolish a wall to hunt down a rabbit hiding between the stones. In 1886 and 1909 two earthquakes shook the site. They should probably be blamed for the broken lintels, cracks and collapsed structures.


The structures’ collapse and the results can still be attributed to time, plant growth and the nature of the soil, and to all these factors combined if we observe that many of the bories were built without a foundation on the first layer of soft rock that appears as foliated limestone plates.

Between the surface layers there are roots that, as they grow, lift up the stones or create voids when they dry and decompose, causing landslides.

Les tassements et leurs conséquences

Finally, to complete the rebirth of the village and return it to its natural setting, the olive groves were re-cultivated.

Restauration bories

The Village des Bories, organized as a museum of rural life, displays archival documents evoking the Gordes of yesteryear. It houses a collection of traditional everyday objects from the region and agricultural tools of the past made by hand and for the hand of man. Finally, an exhibition assembling photographs of different types of dry-stone constructions spread throughout France and throughout the world contributes to a better knowledge of this form of architecture, so well represented in Haute-Provence. »

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