Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a marvellous perched village , located in the middle of two majestic rocky cliffs, crossed by a lively mountain stream.
Legend has it that the knight of Blacas, in order to thank the Virgin for his safe return from the Crusades, had a star hung between the two rock walls with a chain. And today the star still watches over the heads of the inhabitants, twinkling in the setting sun.
Between rocky peaks and olive groves, terracotta and waterfalls, Moustiers embodies a form of idyllic perfection, nourished by a thousand legends and evocative visions. Surrounded by unspoilt mountains, it lies a stone’s throw from the Gorges du Verdon, between brightly coloured lakes and lavender fields.
This village, divided in two by the torrent, is truly magical and you can breathe in a delightful atmosphere, strolling through the narrow uphill streets, admiring the 15 faïences shops : these are the enamelled majolica tiles that became fashionable at the time of Louis XIV when the sovereign, in order to restore the court’s finances, decided to replace gold pottery with cheaper ceramics.
Typically Provençal, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie looks like a nativity scene: dominated by a hanging star gilded in fine gold, it is full of charm, with its alleyways and tiny squares, its refreshing fountains, its terracotta shops and shops, and its houses with colourful façades.
To take a panoramic photo of the village, we recommend you follow the path to the Belvédère de Tréguier, from where you can admire a beautiful view of the gorges and Lake St Croix. It starts from the town car park: the hike is 4 km long for about 2 hours round trip.
The 14th-century Chapelle Notre-Dame de Beauvoir, a delightful little church clinging to one side of the mountain, can be reached via a steep path of 262 steps, divided into 14 stations.
The path starts at rue de la Bourgade. We recommend that you tackle the climb early in the morning, especially in summer, when the mountain is still in shade, to avoid the sun and heat. The climb takes about half an hour and there is a second path leading back to the village through the woods, signposted from the churchyard. Your fatigue will be amply rewarded by the marvellous view as far as Lac de Sainte-Croix and the chance to get a close-up view of the knight’s star, which measures 135 metres in length and weighs 150 kg.
At the top of the mountain, on a rise frequented by wild goats, stands this chapel framed by cypresses, its walls blackened by the suffocating smoke of dozens of candles. In fact, the shrine is shrouded in the mysterious legend of awakenings. In ancient times, it was feared that the souls of infants who died without baptism could not reach paradise and remained eternally trapped in the darkness of limbo. But popular belief said that in Moustiers, stillborn babies came back to life for just a few moments, just enough to receive baptismal water and be admitted into the kingdom of heaven. Grieving parents came from all over Provence, carrying their little ones up the arduous climb to seek peace and ease their pain.
Moustiers gained a notable European reputation for its fine terracotta. In the 18th century, the golden age of terracotta, two Provençal factories exported their fine tableware throughout Europe: from Marseilles and Moustiers. The village dinnerware began to be used on the tables of kings, princes and powerful people all over the continent: Louis XIV loved Verdon earthenware.
To learn about and admire the history of this delicate art, we recommend a visit to the Museum of Terracotta at Moustiers: this beautiful historical residence has gathered the greatest collections from every era and is a marvel of refinement and delicacy. Here we find in particular the terracottas decorated with birds, which have become the hallmark of the Moustiers workshops.
The art of terracotta is still perpetuated in Moustiers. Classified as an art village, Moustiers retains many craft workshops of exceptional quality, where terracotta is modelled and painted by hand using ancestral techniques.
The pieces are numbered and signed and this authenticity makes the handicraft production of its inhabitants prestigious. The delicacy of these objects, their beauty and unique character, is irresistible.
L'Atelier Mufraggi3 is located in a place of rare beauty: it is housed in an authentic troglodyte house, a real cave of wonders carved into the rock. Here, terracotta is worked with love and dedication, remaining faithful to the historical spirit of Moustiers and its traditions.
Troglodyte is also the workshop Lallier-Moustiers 4: under the rough stone vaults, which contrast with the extreme fineness of the terracotta, are their most delicate creations, the subject of which are the birds that have made the village’s terracotta famous. Lallier has chosen not only to perpetuate the historical tradition of Moustiers birds, but to enrich them with a series of colourful tropical birds, truly superb.
On the other hand,Atelier Soleil5 specialises in art majolica, often innovative and original, with numerous collaborations with other houses and artists: while retaining the traditional, handmade character of terracotta, these creations have an artistic approach that seduces the most prestigious customers, thanks to their exclusive collections of floral bowls, which look like petals or sunbeams.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Between the two peaks overlooking the village, suspended from a heavy chain, shines a golden star. Legend has it that the Knight of Blacas, taken prisoner in the Holy Land during a crusade, is said to have wished to suspend this star above his beloved village, if he ever managed to return to his homeland.
The star has fallen several times in the course of its history, struck by lightning, eroded by the weather or the victim of unusual accidents, but has always been replaced by the villagers.
The present star dates back to 1957 and was made of fine gold. Even today, the bravest still try to touch the links of the chain anchored to the mountain to seek luck and protection.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a small village: there is not a big choice of hotels, as in the more populous towns of Provence. Moreover, the accommodations are elegant, charming and rather expensive.
The area is very busy in summer and during the events that enliven this part of Provence, so it is advisable to book well in advance.
The small village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie can be reached almost exclusively by car, being perched in the middle of the mountains.
What's the weather at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie for the next few days.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is part of the Most Beautiful Villages of France circuit and is located in the Verdon Natural Park in the Alpes de Haute Provence department.