One of the "Most Beautiful Villages in France" can be found tucked in between two cliffs in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. At 760m above sealevel, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie spoils its 694 permanent inhabitants and many more visitors with its stunning views and charming sites.
HOW TO GET THERE
By Car: The only way to access the village is by car or bus. Take the A51 highway (Aix en Provence-Sisteron) and exit at Manosque (Valensole, Puimoisson, Moustiers direction) or Vinon sur Verdon - Cadarache (Gréoux, Riez, Moustiers (D952) direction)
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The village is located inside the National Reserve of Verdon. Surrounded by tall lushous trees and towering mountains, it is almost imperceivable at the bottom of the valley, and camouflages itself in between the swaying trees. As you drive up the winding road, the village repeatedly reveals and hides itself from view following the winding curve.
Arrving at the village you'll be greeted with a fantastic view of the town as you drive across the brick bridge that crosses the steep river valley. Look up in between the two hillstops and you'll find the star of David suspended in air. Two wire cables connect the giant star to the mountains tops and keep it steady even during rough weather.
The village was thought to be first inhabited during the Antiquity. Evidence of such inhabitance can be found at the tomb of Grand Segriè, first excavated by André Muller in the 1980s. Today, the village thrives on the tourism and earthenware industry. Many artisanal shops can be found at the village center selling local earthenware goods, which are reputed as the best in the region. Art galleries and exhibitions are also abundant in this tiny village of 700 habitants. Is is truly an artistic village.
Throughout time the village's architecture was baptized by different civilizations in varying styles. You may find traces of Roman, Baroque, and Medieval style architecture throughout the village; each style unique to itself at the same time coexisting harmoniously with one another. Beige and earth toned buildings can be seen towering over small colorful houses neatly packed next to each other.
Cutting through the heart of town is a rapid stream meandering its way through the village. Cafés and restaurants are elegantly layed out on both banks of the river stream, each giving impeccable views to the small waterfall. As the sun sets behind the rocky mountains behind the star of David, the sky lights up in a vivid orange color, which sets an effortlessly romantic atmosphere. Lunch or afternoon tea would be ideal in such an angelic spot.
Besides tourism and earthenware, olive harvestivg is also a thriving industry in the region. The villagers tend to commute to bigger neighboring towns such as Riez for work. Back in town, local businesses bustle with life selling local specialities and regional favorites. The presence of tourists can't mask the local charm of this gem of a village. We spotted this cute fruit stall selling a variety of fresh local produce.
At any given point in the village, you have non-obsructed views of the picturesque provincial valleys and the charming neighboring villages. Under the summer sun, the houses glow a golden yellow among the jaded trees. The radiant colors give your eyes a whole new perception of the color spectrum. Life in Provence is truly a whole new experience; an experience we could all get very used to.
The Gorges de Verdon and Gréoux-les-bains are just a short drive away from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. We'd also recommend a visit to the Lavender Fields if you're visiting from late June to early August.
Check out our articles about these sites in the related section.
Written and photographed by Pierre Ieong