10 Reasons Why You Must See Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France

Are you looking for a time-transporting destination with relaxing holidays, picture-perfect scenery, and historical landmarks? South of France is the place you want to be! 

Of all of South of France’s best attractions, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is one you must consider visiting. It is one of the South of France’s most charming villages, and it has all the beautiful travel destination characteristics I mentioned!

In a nutshell, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a rural village perched on the foothills of spectacular limestone mountains, a destination rich with cultural heritage. But is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie worth visiting? What are the reasons why visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie?

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You do not need to go to other places to know if you should visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie or not. Because in this blog post, I will let you discover all its uniqueness, top experiences, and best attractions—the reasons to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

And if you find Moustiers-Sainte-Marie a nice place to visit, don’t forget to bookmark this post or pin it to Pinterest. Because this post also contains practical information and tips to make your trip to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie smooth!

To summarize the experience you can have in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, let’s answer the question most probably you’re here for:

Is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie Worth Visiting?

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a preserved medieval village with fascinating heritage sites, charming streets, and exquisite faiences. Surrounded by natural attractions like Valensole lavender fields, Lake Sainte-Croix, and Verdon Gorge, visitors find Moustiers-Sainte-Marie a well worth a visit.

Before we discuss the reasons to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, let’s first learn some basics about Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. They should give context to the discussion about the village later on.

Let’s start with the question that everyone asks when planning to have a trip: where is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie?

You may use the table of contents to navigate the article. Click here to immediately proceed to the 10 Reasons to Visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

Where is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie?

If we are going to pinpoint Moustiers-Sainte-Marie on a map, we should start looking at Southeastern France. 

Zoom into the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and then the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. In the southernmost portion of the department, we can find Moustiers-Sainte-Marie sitting at the foot of the Verdon Mountains, northeast of Lake of Sainte-Croix. 

Today, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie lies within the boundaries of a geopark and a regional nature park. They are the UNESCO Geopark of Haute-Provence and Verdon Regional Natural Park. 

The closest train station to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is Manosque, the largest town in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is also relatively close to Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Nice, and Avignon—cities with an approximately 2-hours drive away to/from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

Learn about the 10 reasons to visit Avignon here.

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How To Visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie?

Currently, public transportation servicing Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is minimal. Moustiers has no train station yet, and buses serve the village only a few times a week. 

The best way to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is by renting/driving a car from the nearby cities like Nice, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, or Lyon. Nonetheless, you still need a car to explore the beautiful attractions around Moustiers and in Verdon Regional Natural Park.

Read the 14 reasons why you should also visit Lyon.

We’ll discuss the attractions around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie later. But, if you want to try them all, it would be better to book accommodation in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie or nearby towns.

If you’re like me, who prefers to travel using public transportation (which is cheap and convenient), going to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and using a private car seems a bit dissuading. But don’t let that make your decision!

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a beautiful place with many things to awe-inspire you. You must check the 10 best reasons to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to discover them all! 

Besides, there are tours (see below) you can avail yourself of for a very convenient trip to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

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10 Best Reasons To Visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

As someone who loves discovering breathtaking historical attractions, places like Moustiers-Sainte-Marie will always be on my radar. Such destinations make us marvel, forget our problems, learn new things, introspect and become a better version of ourselves after. 

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Top view of Moustiers
Top view of Moustiers

This is why I told you earlier you must consider going to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. To explain things further, here are the 10 reasons:

  1. To Discover The Village’s Unique Heritage And Legends
  2. To See Its 1500-year old Heritage
  3. To Find Peace On A Pilgrimage Site
  4. To Marvel At The Scenic Viewpoints
  5. To Explore The Quaint Village
  6. To Admire Exquisite Faience
  7. To Watch Spectacular Sunsets
  8. To Take Pictures In Plateau de Valensole
  9. To Relax In Lake Sainte-Croix
  10. To Have An Adventure In Verdon Gorges

Let’s kick off the list with the unique things about Moustiers-Sainte-Marie that spark wanderlust and attract people.

Reason 1 — Discover The Village’s Unique Heritage And Legends

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - The star of Moustiers Sainte Marie
The star of Moustiers Sainte Marie

Did you know that the first residents of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie were not just ordinary people? They were religious men, monks that moved into the cavities of the mountains above the current village during the 5th century.

These monks and their religious origins are the reasons behind the village’s name, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. “Moustiers” means monasteries, and “Saint-Marie” depicts the Holy Virgin. 

The way Moustiers-Sainte-Marie was built is unique, I believe. I haven’t discovered other settlements that evolved into a village from humble mountain monasteries other than Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

But, if there is one thing that distinguishes Moustiers-Sainte-Marie from the hundreds of villages in France, it is the village’s star—the village’s icon. It is the star for which Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is famous for.

You can find the star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie above the Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, hanging in the middle of the Ravin de Notre Dame. If you’re in the village on a bright sunny day, just look in the direction of the mountain, and you should see the star twinkling.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - The star of Moustiers Sainte Marie over Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir
The star of Moustiers Sainte Marie over Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir

The star may probably sound just like a promotion campaign, but nope. It’s a legendary artifact hanging above Moustiers-Sainte-Marie for several centuries already. The star has been there, even before the tourism industry boom. 

Legends account the star above Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to the Knight Blacas, who joined a crusade in the 12th century. He vowed to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary by hanging a star if he made it through the crusade alive.

A plaque along the stairs to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir attests to his legend.

However, the star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie has fallen several times in the past due to degrading chains that suspend it. It was replaced several times, too, to keep the heritage alive. 

The current star, more than 1 meter in size, dates back to 1957 only and now hangs 250 meters above the village. And the chains that hold the village’s star? It’s 150 meters long. You can still see one of the previous stars, the 1882 version, in the front of the Faience Museum.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - The star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie seen from the village
The star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie seen from the village

Isn’t it wondrous how Knight Blacas hung the star above the village? With the weight of the chain and star, Knight Blacas is indeed a legend!

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Reason 2 — To See Its 1500-year-old Heritage

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - The tower of Église Notre-Dame de l'Assomption
The tower of Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption

Although Moustiers-Sainte-Marie isn’t as ancient as its neighboring towns, this village won’t leave you empty-handed when discovering heritage sites. We can even consider the whole place a heritage!

The most notable historical monument in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption. It is a 12th-century church located in the heart of the village. If you’re facing the mountains, you can find the church on the left bank of the river.

What makes Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption unique is its 22-meter high tower, designed in Lombard Romanesque style. It is also one of Europe’s moving bell towers! When its bells ring out, the church’s tower oscillates.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Close up shot of Église Notre-Dame de l'Assomption's tower
Close up shot of Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption’s tower

The church’s interiors were built in the Romanesque style but were renovated in the Gothic style in the 14th century. The renovation was not completed, though, as the friar who managed the renovation died.

This is why you will see a mixed architectural style inside Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption. The nave is Romanesque, and the choir is Gothic.

You should also notice the altar in the middle of the choir. Believe it or not, the altar is actually older than the church! It is a historical item, a sarcophagus, dating back to the 5th century

The altar of Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption is also an artwork. Come close to the altar when you visit, and you’ll notice its bas relief sculpture. It depicts Moses crossing the red sea.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption is only one of the heritage sites in the village. There are more (we’ll discuss the others later), and they are a reason to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

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Reason 3 — To Find Peace On A Pilgrimage Site

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir
Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir

A historical monument in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie serves not only as a treasure of culture but also as a pilgrimage site. Suppose you want a spiritual retreat or at least some peaceful moments to relax your mind. In that case, you have another reason to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. 

You may also want to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie if you love going to breathtaking places. 

This historical monument is called Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir. You can find it at the village’s highest point, tucked in a ravine in the mountains. 

Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir, a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is the most important building in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. The chapel is a 12th-century edifice and became a famous pilgrimage site in Europe in the 17th century

Its religious reputation originated from the special kind of miracles that took place on the site. The miracle is known as “suscitations” which happened as the stillborn babies were baptized in the chapel. 

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Inside Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir
Inside Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir

After the stillborn babies were baptized, they “briefly” came back to life. Some called it “welcoming the babies to heaven.” The babies’ skin turned pink, and sometimes the babies’ feet moved before being buried in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

It attracted many wealthy families, who then funded the renovation and improvement of the church. Now, Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir has parts that are works of art to admire when you visit

The most notable parts of Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir are its door and stained glass. We can classify its wooden doors as a masterpiece of renaissance art. The bas relief of the saints and different ornamentation is just beautiful.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

Especially during the off-peak or shoulder seasons, you can find the area around Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir peaceful. Come inside the chapel, and you’ll find tranquility.

Inside Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir is also the best place to admire the chapel’s stained glass window. There it glows with kaleidoscopic colors, with images depicting the miracles on the site.

Located at an elevated site above the village, you can expect the way to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir pretty scenic. However, there are no elevators yet. To go there, you have to hike/climb the 262-step stairs.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Stairs to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir
Stairs to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir
Moustiers Sainte Marie France - View of Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir from the stairs
View of Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir from the stairs
Moustiers Sainte Marie France - View of the village from Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir
View of the village from Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir

Legends say these stairs were 365 steps before, corresponding to each day of the year. Although it isn’t as long as it used to be, the oratories of the Stations of the Way of the Cross remain. These oratories are decorated with faience and are like gems you can see along the way. 

Hey, I just want to share something. If you’re looking for destinations in France with a beautiful and historical church, you must see Reims. It has an awe-inspiring cathedral, where the kings of France were crowned.

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Reason 4 — To Marvel At The Scenic Viewpoints

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - View of the village and lake Sainte-Croix from Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir viewpoint
View of the village and lake Sainte-Croix from Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir viewpoint

By visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a village that sits at the foothills of a mountain, you’ll be closer than ever to a few of the most stunning vantage points in Verdon. If it’s admiring nature or photography you like, you have another reason to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

At 800 meters above sea level, the viewpoints above Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (a few steps away from Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir) can already give you a view of one of the most spectacular landscapes in the South of France. 

You can see an overlooking view of the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie up there. And if the weather is fantastic, the view stretches as far as Sainte-Croix lake.

The panorama up there also includes the verdant forests of Verdon. It can be the totally refreshing sight you’re looking for!

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

If you love hiking, you can go further than the viewpoint near Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir. You can try the La Chaine Trail to get a better view of the star of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

La Chaine Trail starts at the lowest part of Notre Dame ravine, just below the church. You should be a fork along the way (the stairs). Follow the path not going to the church, and you must see a trail mark indicating La Chaine Trail. 

You can refer to the map from the official website of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to be guided. Before you go, be sure to drop by the tourism office to check the availability of the trail. Most importantly, it’s a trail not suitable for kids.

The village is just one of the places where adventures start in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Later on, you’ll find out that there are other numerous activities around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie where you can enjoy nature.

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Reason 5 — To Explore The Quaint Village

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Charming streets of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Charming streets of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Don’t leave the village immediately after visiting the two main historical monuments in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. As I mentioned earlier, the village itself is a beautiful heritage, and you should not miss exploring it!

The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is absolutely picturesque. It is full of quaint structures with a dramatic view of the mountain in the backdrop. Tens or hundreds of new photos will be on your phone or camera after you wander around.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Rue de la Bourgade
Rue de la Bourgade

Vine-covered houses, quaint pastel buildings, fairytale “caladed” alleys—they will just transport you back centuries in the past. It’s even better when it is spring/summer. During that time, flowering plants are hung on the village’s railings and light posts—pleasing to the eyes.

You may even stumble upon a cute medieval fountain! Then if you get hungry, some shops will satisfy not only your tummy but also your sight. Here’s a sample view:

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Place du Couvert
Place du Couvert

Of all the beautiful spots in the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, it’s Place du Presbytere, which you must see. It’s only a few steps away from the largest bridge in the village located in the main square, Place du Couvert. 

From Place du Couvert, you should see an entrance to a small covered passageway beside the pink building painted with “Le Relais” (hotel) words. Prepare your phone as you enter the path—it will take you to the most Instagrammable part of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Fountains and street lamp in the village
A fountain and a street lamp in the village

Place du Presbytere is the square in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie that gives an exceptional view of the tower of Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption. You will love the scene that’s straight out of a movie set in the middle ages.

When you arrive at Place du Presbytere, you can also find a cozy restaurant that was once the Chapel of the Gray Penitents, built in the 15th century.

The First Faience Museum was also there! It was in the 14th-century vaulted cellar underneath the square. (There’s an entrance beside the stairs)

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Place du Presbytere
Place du Presbytere

However, suppose you want to visit the Faience Museum (another unmissable destination in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie). In that case, you must proceed in the direction of the village’s town hall instead.

Did you know that France has many beautiful quaint villages like Moustiers-Sainte-Marie? They’re not only found in the South of France but also in the north. You must see Colmar. It’s the fairytale town to give you the best escapism trip ever!

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Reason 6 — To Admire Exquisite Faience

Before Moustiers-Sainte-Marie became famous for its star, the village was known for earthenware, specifically faience. Impressively, this little village was once France’s primary source of faience earthenware!

It all started when an Italian monk, Lozarro Porri, came to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and introduced the art of making faience in the 17th century. The growth of faience-making in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie started slowly until King Louis XIV decreed the Sumptuary law in the 18th century.

King Louis XIV himself ditched using extravagant gold and silverware and replaced them with earthenware crockery. And soon after, all the nobles in France started doing the same to copy the king!

This, in turn, made the faience industry in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie skyrocket in sales. The village led the faience industry for several decades until more giant faience factories were built in France and Europe.

Although Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is no longer the leading producer of faience, the villagers did not unlearn the craft. In fact, faiences are one of the reasons why you must visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie today!

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Faience
Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Faience artworks

You should visit the village to see beautiful works of art that noblemen and kings used when they ate! If you wander around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, you may still find shops making faience. Some of them sell faience as souvenirs. 

However, suppose you want to see the best faience in the village. In that case, you must visit the Faience Museum beside Moustiers-Sainte-Marie’s town hall. 

In the Faience Museum, 300 pieces of faiences await you. You will even find ones dating back to the beginning of the faience industry in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the 17th century.

If you love art, you’ll be happy to see the faiences in the museum. The faiences there are extraordinary. They are filled with details and colors and made in different sizes and shapes!

Some faiences in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie’s Faience Museum aren’t only plates with stunning paint decoration. Others are plates with paintings portraying the daily lives of the locals. You can find teapots, crockery in odd beautiful shapes (i.e., fish), and so on.

Do you like to visit the Faience Museum in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie? The entry fee is 5 EUR/adult. Here are the opening hours (source: musee-moustiers.fr):

  1. January — Closed.
  2. February, March, November — 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (lunch break: 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm), Saturday and Sunday.
  3. April, May, June, September, October — 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (lunch break: 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm), Monday to Sunday (except Tuesday)
  4. July, August — 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (lunch break: 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm), Monday to Sunday (except Tuesday)

Are you interested in museums? The French Capital has a few of the best museums in the world, and you must see them! They are a reason why Paris is so much worth visiting. See the unmissable attractions in Paris here.

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Reason 7 — To Watch Spectacular Sunsets

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Sunset in the 262-step stairs of the village
Sunset in the 262-step stairs of the village

Exploring the beautiful village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, visiting its heritage sites & museum, and seeing breathtaking spots can take a day to finish. Not to mention the cozy cafes in the village, which are so lovely to hang out at.

If you caught yourself still in the village in the late afternoon, you might want to stay for a little bit longer until sundown. Because the golden hour and sunsets in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie are spectacular!

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Sunset view of the village
Sunset view of the village

It’s all because of the location of the village. Suppose you will observe its position on a geographical map. In that case, you’ll find Moustiers-Sainte-Marie sits below the wall-like towering limestone mountains. 

What’s more important to know? The village and the mountains face west—the direction where the sun slips down the horizon. If the skies are clear during the sunset, warm-colored sunlight directly hits the village and the mountains.

Everything in the village will be painted with a golden hue. And the mountains behind the village? It can be glowing pink! It is a beautiful moment you would be so lucky to see, especially if you’re traveling with your special person/people.

There are countless spots in the village where you can stay to watch the sunset in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. However, if you really want to see the best golden hour scene in the village, I recommend you to go to either Rue de la Bourgade, Place de Eglise, Saint Anne Chapel, or Rte. de Riez Viewpoint.

Among the four spots I mentioned, Rue de la Bourgade and Place de Eglise are the ones you can quickly visit. That is especially if you’re still within the village.

Rue de la Bourgade and Place de Eglise are located at the banks of the river, flowing in the middle of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. They have quaint buildings, benches to relax at, and relatively open spaces giving mountain views. It’s magical to be here during the golden hour.

Saint Anne Chapel is the chapel on elevated ground near the car parking lots, south of the village. Here, you’ll see a panoramic overlooking view of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie’s village center with the scene of the mountain beside it.

Sainte-Croix lake can also be seen from Saint Anne Chapel. You’ll love watching the sunset in this spot too!

If you want to see the Moustiers-Sainte-Marie with the mountains in the backdrop, the view along the Riez Road is the one you must see. It has wide open space letting you observe the village slightly from afar.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Golden hour in Moustiers Sainte Marie
Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Spectacular sunset in Moustiers Sainte Marie
Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Evening in the village

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Reason 8 — To Take Pictures In Plateau de Valensole

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Valensole lavender and golden fields
Valensole lavender and golden fields

Visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie comes with more perks, apart from the breathtaking views and spectacular sunsets.

Even if you haven’t reached the village, you can already have fun, awe-inspired by the views along the road to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Particularly when you pass by the Plateau de Valensole. 

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Valensole lavender fields and tiny house

Plateau de Valensole is between Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and Manosque (the largest town in the department with a train station). Valensole and Moustiers are only 10 kilometers apart. And, you should not forget to list it on your itinerary if you wish to visit Moustiers now!

The beauty of Valensole depends on the season, though. When you visit in March, you’ll find lovely views of the snowy peaks and blooming almond trees.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Valensole lavender fields windmill

As the season turns to summer from spring and the weather warms up, the sights in Valensole transform. The vast plains of the plateau turn purple and golden! Fields of wheat mature, and thousands of lavender bloom.

In July, in particular, or summer, you can see tens of tourists stopping at the roadside to park and take pictures. You can also do the same! It’s one of the Instagrammable parts of the South of France.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Instagrammable lavender fields in Valensole
Instagrammable lavender fields in Valensole

The beautiful purple fields stretch for kilometers, and passing by feels like you’re in a totally different world. There are also sunflower fields you can encounter, by the way! 

So, don’t forget to clean up your digital storage on your phones/cameras before going to Valensole/Moustiers. Going here means a month-long Instagram feed of photos you can share with your social media friends.

This is also the reason why you should rent a car or get a private service when visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. You can’t just stop by the roadside on a public bus to take pictures. Alternatively, you can join a group tour for a convenient and cheaper alternative.

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Reason 9 — To Relax At Lake Sainte-Croix

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Overlooking view of Lake Sainte-Croix
Overlooking view of Lake Sainte-Croix

Location (again) is why Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is so worthy of visiting, especially for vacation hunters and nature lovers like me. By going to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, you bring yourself minutes away from the best natural attractions in France.

Suppose you are already in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, and you went to the viewpoint close to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir. In that case, you must have spotted Lake Sainte-Croix, which I think is another reason why you should have a trip to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Cozy restaurants in Lake Sainte-Croix
Cozy restaurants in Lake Sainte-Croix

Lake Sainte-Croix is France’s third-largest artificial lake and a hydroelectric dam that provides electricity to nearby villages. It’s huge! Like, if you measure it from end to end, you’ll measure approximately 10 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide.

Lake Sainte-Croix was opposed by the locals before its construction because they were fearful of the effects on the region’s landscape. The building of the dam continued still, however. 

The village of Salles du Verdon was even flooded during Lake Sainte-Croix’s construction! Yet, the village was relocated and rebuilt later on.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Beach of Lake Sainte-Croix
Beach of Lake Sainte-Croix

Though it was a controversial project, it is now benefiting the region by providing the locals with electricity and tourism. Millions of tourists come to Lake Sainte-Croix every year!

Lake Sainte-Croix can be the perfect vacation holiday you might be looking for. If you’re from Europe or the United States, you do not have to travel halfway across the world to see beaches with turquoise water because Lake Sainte-Croix is one. 

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Les Salles-sur-Verdon in Lake Sainte-Croix
Les Salles-sur-Verdon in Lake Sainte-Croix

Do you want to swim, try windsurfing, or canoe? You can do that in Lake Sainte-Croix. Oh, you just want to relax and enjoy the views? There are restaurants along the shore with pleasing views of the still water and stunning mountains.

If you travel with your kids, there are camping grounds around the lake equipped with barbeque grills and more. How about hiking? Yes, you can do that too. Actually, you can hike to Lake Sainte-Croix from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in an hour and 15 minutes.

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Reason 10 — To Have An Adventure In Verdon Gorges

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Gorges du Verdon and Lake Sainte-Croix meet below Pont du Galetas
Gorges du Verdon and Lake Sainte-Croix meet below Pont du Galetas

When you’re in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, you’re not only close to one of the most beautiful lakes in France but also to the largest canyon in Europe—Gorges du Verdon

What’s more fantastic? Lake Sainte-Croix and Gorges du Verdon are connected to each other (the turquoise waters of Lake Sainte-Croix come from Gorges du Verdon). This is why fun will never be absent, whether from relaxation, adventure, or both you like. 

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Gorges du Verdon glacial turquoise water
Gorges du Verdon glacial turquoise water

Suppose you’re like me, who finds happiness in visiting marvelous natural phenomena. Then your soul will be ecstatic when you see Gorges du Verdon. Its sheer spectacle is just beyond what words can describe.

Technically, Gorges du Verdon stretches for 50 kilometers, with the best views starting from the commune of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie to Rougon. In the middle of the canyon, the Verdon River separating the Var department from the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department flows.

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Cavities on the cliffs of Gorges du Verdon
Cavities on the cliffs of Gorges du Verdon

You can rent a boat or kayak and sail in the Verdon river if you want. There you’ll see towering limestone cliffs and mountains rising up to 700-meters. Caves, rock formations, and 250-million-year geologic works of nature you can discover.

Kayaking and sailing the Verdon river are only where the adventure starts in Gorges du Verdon. You can take more adventures from soft to extreme sports, like hiking, rock climbing, Highline, and hydrospeed!

Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Stunning rock formations in Gorges du Verdon
Stunning rock formations in Gorges du Verdon

If you prefer sightseeing only, the viewpoints that you must see are:

  1. The belvedere of the dent d’Aire (accessible by hiking or driving a car) — is the spot with the most beautiful overlooking view. The majestic cliff walls of the canyon. Its giant twists and turns are visible from this spot.
  2. Pont de Galetas (most accessible from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie) — is the bridge over the point where Lake Sainte-Croix and the Verdon river meet. Here you’ll find the iconic postcard view of Gorges du Verdon.
  3. The Point Sublime (located near Rougon, accessible via car +10-minute hike) — is the viewpoint where you can observe one of the narrowest parts of Gorges du Verdon. Unmissable!
Moustiers Sainte Marie France - Point Sublime
View from Point Sublime

If you want to learn more about Gorges du Verdon, you can visit Verdon’s official website

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Other Beautiful Places Like Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is only a small rural yet charming village with little access to public transportation. However, from the 10 reasons we discussed, we discovered that a trip to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie can be a package deal of great discoveries and experiences!

However, you should remember that lavender fields in Valensole, Lake Sainte-Croix, and Gorges du Verdon near Moustiers-Sainte-Marie are seasonal attractions. Visiting the Moustiers-Sainte-Marie will be best during the summer season.

If you’re still planning your trip to France/Southern France and you are looking for places like Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, you might want to check out other quaint villages in the region.

Village/Town Name Features
Gordes A scenic hilltop village with a view of the picturesque Luberon Regional Nature Park.
Eze A romantic hilltop village with an overlooking view of the coast of the French Riviera
Rocamadour A breathtaking pilgrimage site and historical village in Lot Department. I really recommend Rocamadour.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie A village sitting by the foothills and nearest to the spectacular Verdon Gorge (Grand Canyon of France).
Aigues Mortes A walled village with imposing gates located in the wildlife-rich Camargue Regional Nature Park.
Carcassonne The village/town with 2 preserved medieval walls and 2 UNESCO sites. It’s also one of the most popular destinations in France
Chamonix The village/town with the most panoramic views of the Alps in the South of France.
Domme A quaint village in Dordogne Valley known for its honey-colored houses.
Saint-Paul de Vence A village in the French Riviera, home to countless artworks tucked in its preserved medieval narrow lanes.
Saint-Cirq Lapopie A charming village with half-timbered houses overlooking Lot River.
10 Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France

You may click the names of the villages to learn more. Alternatively, you can also read my article about the Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France for a brief summary of each village.

I also want to share with you the town called Annecy—my favorite city in France. It’s a scenic place that also has a charming historic center, where you can discover some history. I think that you’ll love hanging out at its lake (Lake Annecy). Learn more from my post “10 Reasons Why Visit Annecy.”

Lastly, France has beautiful destinations whether you go south or north of the country. South of France is perhaps the “best” region, but the Alsace region is unique! Discover its capital, Strasbourg, and the 22 reasons why you should visit.

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Helpful Links In Visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

A beautiful medieval village, spectacular natural attractions, Instagrammable places—a trip to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie can give you all!

Do you doubt visiting because of the transportation? Let’s say you don’t want to drive or a private car is too expensive. Worry no more because there are tours that can let you see the region without a hassle at a lesser cost! You can click this link for sample tours.

There are different locations (usually from Nice or Aix-en-Provence) where these tours generally start. Depending on your preference, you can select to visit Valensole and Moustiers only or Verdon Gorge and Moustiers only. There are more package combination options, though.

However, you may need more than a day to see all the best attractions within and around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. It’s the time that you’ll need a car. And if you don’t have accommodation yet, here’s the link where you can get one.

The link will show you the list of best deals on accommodation (with free cancellations) around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

Tip! Don’t forget to call the hotel to compare prices. Sometimes, the hotels aren’t completely synced with the search engines’ algorithms. Thus, sometimes their prices can be lower when you call. (Hotel search engines automatically update the price depending on the demand. Prices of hotels online vary more frequently).

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Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France

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