Summer is finally here and with it its lot of holiday departures and dream destinations. For my part, for a few years now, I have been particularly passionate about our beautiful France and its beautiful landscapes. Today, I take you to the Verdon and more precisely to Moutiers-Sainte-Marie!
Ranked among the most beautiful villages in France since 1981, it is ideally located between the lake of Saint-Croix, the gorges of Verdon and the very photogenic lavender fields of Valensole. This perched village, as beautiful as a real painting, has all the assets to seduce lovers of Provence.
If, the chapel of Our Lady of Beauvoir dates from the 12th century, it is in fact in the 5th century thanks to the monks of Lérins that Moustiers-sainte-Marie really saw the light of day. These monks lived in the tif caves and formed their first monastery a century later.
For the curious and lovers of improbable stories, you will love to get lost in the legends that surround the presence of the star suspended above the chapel Our Lady of Beauvoir… No one really knows why she’s here! It’s annoying not to have an answer I know… Stories of knights, impossible loves, templars, several legends surround his presence without having an answer which makes her even more unique! We had the chance to visit the village with Elsa from the Tourist Office during a superb guided tour that allowed us to learn a lot about the village and its history! Tours take place in July/August on Tuesdays at 10am and Thursdays at 5pm, without reservations. In May, June, September and October on Thursdays at 3pm on reservations and during the Easter and All Saints holidays on Tuesdays at 10am and Thursdays at 3pm without reservations.
What to do in Moutiers-sainte-Marie?
You will tell me, but what can be done to keep you busy during a week’s vacation in a village of 700 people? So many things that a week may not even be enough for you in reality!
For history lovers you can discover the museum of earthenware. Today known for its living environment and architecture, the village also owes its fame to the earthenware factory. For the record, to finance his wars and his way of life, King Louis XIV had melted the gold and silver crockery to turn them into coins. But you had to eat well! So he had all this replaced with earthenware dishes and the rest of the nobility followed the path. The apogee of earthenware lasted only a few centuries in Moustiers-sainte-Marie. It could have disappeared but, we owe its return to a lover of the region, Marcel Provence, who relaunched the workshops in 1927.
The most well-known activity is the Verdon Gorge in paddle, kayak, pedalo etc… Moustiers-sainte-Marie is just ten minutes from the lake of Sainte-Croix! We rented a two-seater kayak at the star nautical base and spent the morning in the gorges. It’s such a beautiful place… Not to mention the color of the water which is extraordinary, we meet a lot of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and sincerely it’s nice to see. In season, I recommend to be there relatively early, at the opening of the nautical bases between 8:30 and 9 am because in the afternoon there are really a lot of people. If you go, I recommend the utmost caution when you sit on the small beaches to bathe because some tourists leave behind their fruit peels because it is “biodegradable” but it attracts wasps and many people get to prick…
For sportsenthusiasts, there are many more or less difficult hikes that will allow you to admire the Verdon and its gorges (“this beautiful territory” because from the village you can not see the Verdon) Here are some routes:
Route 1, the tour of the village by the Claux from the village. An hour-long walk, in the middle of the olive fields with a panoramic view of the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie at the end.
Circuit 2, The Botanical Trail of Treguier. A two-hour round trip with no particular difficulty. You have information panels about the flora and fauna that you can find on the area and at the end, a magnificent view of the lake of St. Croix, the whole valley and the surrounding cliffs.
Route 3, Vincel, a 10-kilometre loop that allows you to access the Vénascle plateau and return by the ancient Roman road with breathtaking views of the lake of Sainte-Croix.
For those who don’t like to walk but still want to admire the view, there is the ridge road! And no, the Ciotat does not have a monopoly on the name and that of the Gorges du Verdon is clearly worth a detour! More than a dozen lookouts will allow you to discover these incredible landscapes.
Among the must-see activities, of course, are the lavender fields. If the plateaus of Valensole are highly publicized, in reality there is lavender of the Drôme until after Moustiers-sainte-Marie and the invasion of tourists makes me prefer these more discreet fields. This massive influx is mainly due to the short flowering period before the harvest, we can only admire these fields from mid-June to mid-July.
We just have to keep in mind a few rules that a lot of tourists don’t respect: don’t trample on lavender, don’t pick up a bouquet, don’t get behind the wires if there are any… Things that are logical but obviously are not for everyone when you see monumental wedding shoots and even shootings with horses without any permissions…
Where to eat? Where to sleep?
We slept at Melen House, a guest house just outside the village. An ideal setting, a welcoming owner as possible and a very good breakfast serve outdoors to enjoy the freshness of the morning under the trees… What more could you ask for? As for the restaurants, I recommend Côté Jardin and its superb panoramic terrace over the valley, and the glacier the frosted star for its delicious lavender ice cream. There are even lavender cupcakes that you can find in the shops of the village, personally I love!
We really had a very nice weekend in Moutiers-sainte-Marie, I thank the tourist office very much for all these tourist indications, and especially Adrien for his warm welcome and all his beautiful attentions!