Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a Provençal village with a rich history and architectural heritage. Built between two rocky slopes, its offers spectacular and captivating views, as much from the heights as at the foot of the village. Situated in the department of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in the heart of the Verdon Regional Nature Park, the town boasts such glowing features as it history and natural surroundings.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie enjoys an exceptional geographic position and culminates at 630 metres altitude. Its territory is vast; it is in the centre of the main sightseeing routes of the Verdon and, downstream from the Gorges of the Verdon, the Sainte-Croix lake lies to the south of the valley of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Dams, torrents, cascades, rivers and lakes make up the major elements of this landscape. It has a warm temperate climate with ample precipitations.
The village of Moustiers Sainte Marie
The climbing up to the Chapel Notre-Dame de Beauvoir
The Parish Church of Moustiers Sainte Marie
The bridge of rue Frédéric Mistral
Faïence shop in Moustiers Sainte Marie
Houses of village in Moustiers Sainte Marie
Inside the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir Chapel
The history of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie goes back to the 5th century: the monks from the Lérins Islands occupied the village and founded a monastery there in the 6th century, hence the town's name of Monasterio in the Middle Ages.
The construction of the buildings, the fortifications, the houses and the mills progressed over the course of the 12th and 13th century. The plague and the wars of succession of the Counts of Provence ravaged the population in the 14th century. The development of hydraulic-based industries in the 16th century, with the implantation of paper factories, tanneries, pottery workshops and mills, saw Moustiers-Sainte-Marie flourish again. But extremely severe weather conditions during the 17th century would get the better of this evolution and the town again went into decline. The golden period of the porcelain factories, the Faïenceries of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, ended in 1873.
It was only in 1925 that somebody decided to relight the town's kilns to give back to the Faïence all its prestige and worldwide renown. Thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of that man, named Marcel Provence, some twenty workshops and a museum dedicated to him carry on and even expand this traditional craft, to the delight of visitors and porcelain lovers.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is known for the legend of the star that shines above the village. Reinterpreted by the poet Frédéric Mistral, the legend recounts that during one of the crusades, a knight of Blacas, a prisoner of the Saracens, made a wish: if the future permitted him to return to his village, he promised to hang a star and its chain high above in honour of Saint Mary. The true history of this star remains a mystery and there are many different versions yet none of ever been authenticated. The star that today hangs over the town is the eleventh in its history; gilded in fine gold, it measures 1.25 meter, its chain is 135 metres long and together its weighs 150kg.
The rest of its heritage is just as admirable and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie offers many points of interest to the visitor:
a parish church listed as a historic monument in 1913
the 12th century Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel with its 262 steps to climb
the original defensive ramparts
the fountains and washhouses
In the area around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
The Gorges of the Verdon: the European version of the Grand Canyon sculpted by the Verdon river.
With its turquoise water, the site is listed as one of the “Grand Sites of France”. There are many water, sports and other outdoor activities to be enjoyed.
Castelanne: a medieval village to explore with such interesting sites as an old tower, the 14th century ramparts, the 12th century Saint-Victor church.