Located in the Verdon National Park in the South of France, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a charming little town in the heart of Provence that has been listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France and attracts many tourists each year, thanks to its stunning location and very “Provençale” atmosphere.
A bit of history…
The history of Moustiers dates back to the 5th century, when monks decided to settle there and build a monastery, but the town only truly developed in the 12th century, when its little houses and fortifications were built.
It is however in the 16th century that it started getting more and more wealthy, with the development of hydraulic-based industries, powered by the small river that runs through the town. Paper factories, workshops and mills flourished, and the ceramic tradition of the town started and was rekindled in the early 20th century.
Nowadays, the town is still well-known for its ceramics (called “faïences”), but tourism is really at the core of its economy, with many little shops around the main street selling lavender and lavender-based items, beautiful ceramics and locally-made products.
Moustiers is also known for its “mysterious” golden star, that hangs above the town. There are many legends that explain its presence, including one about an imprisoned knight who only wanted to go back to his hometown and one about the tragic death of two lovers whose families were enemies…
Walking around and things to do
To reach Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a car is still the best way, and when you come from the road, you can only be amazed by this little town and its light-coloured houses with blue blinds, sitting on a slope between two impressive limestone cliffs.
You can park in one of the many parking areas around the centre, then slowly make your way through the town, passing through tiny cobblestoned alleys, little shops and local restaurants.
Wandering around, you’ll notice the river that goes through the town, starting and ending in a beautiful little waterfall, and your steps will be accompanied by the sound of cicadas and the smell of lavender, sold in many little shops around.
The best thing to do in these beautiful and peaceful places is always to sit down on the terrace of one of the many cafes and just soak in the atmosphere while drinking a nice cold drink. Obviously, sitting down for a proper meal or an ice cream works too!
Then, you can keep on walking around, stopping to buy local products in some cute shops (though some of them are more touristic than others), and finish off by climbing all the way up to the Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir chapel, that overlooks the town and the surrounding nature, offering breath-taking views on the roofs of Moustiers and, sometimes, the nearby Sainte-Croix Lake and its turquoise water.
After exploring the town and soaking up a bit of that magical atmosphere, you can discover the stunning Gorges du Verdon, swim in one of the lakes, take pictures of gorgeous lavender fields nearby or just walk around other beautiful and typical towns.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful towns in the area and I recommend it to everyone that travels to Provence for its traditional yet almost magical vibe. I can guarantee that you will love it!
Have you ever been in the area?
Other things to see and do in the area:Lavender & sunflower fields
– Around the Gorges du Verdon
– Visiting Manosque