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Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Regional Natural Park of Verdon, Var

43.848333,6.221944
43°50'54"N 6°13'19"E
Published: January 2010
last updated: March 2011
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The visit

A true jewel of Provence (and another one on the list of Most beautiful villages of France) Moustiers is a must-see if you are planning a trip to the Regional Natural Park of Verdon. Despite its small size Moustiers Moustiers St. Marie offers enough to see for all lovers of medieval architecture. At first you are sure to notice the chapel Notre Dame de Beauvoir perched on the 830-meters rock above the city. This place was already occupied in 470 A.D. by a little temple dedicated to the Virgin; in the XII century local monks have built a chapel, which until XV century was called Notre Dame d’Entreroches. In XVI century the chapel was extended and given its current look. A 262-steps stair in the rock leads up to the chapel. Moustiers is often called “the village under the star”: a golden star is suspended on a 400 kg heavy chain on the mountains above the village. The legend says that duke de Blacas, being taken prisoner during one of the crusades has prayed, promising that he will build the monument to Virgin Mary if he returns safe and sound to France. After his return to Moustiers, he has kept his promise and ordered to suspend above the village a star of sixteen rays – the emblem of his family. The star that you see now is a replica dated 1882 – it has only five rays.

The Church Notre-Dame is a beautiful example of the mixture of roman and gothic styles, declared national historical monument. Besides you can see the vestiges of the wall that protected the village in the Middle Age and its aqueduct. The water in all fountains of the village is potable and has great taste. You’ll find some ancient communal wash houses, which have served for bathing, washing laundry, animals and even washing the meat for the village butcher. Currently wash Moustiers St. Marie houses are used only as water sources.

Moustiers called french capital of faience. In the village you will find no less than twenty shops selling white hand-painted faience of Moustiers. A dozen ateliers of faience offer individual or group visits (some visits are free, if you plan a group visit, call before to reserve the place, you will find the list of faience ateliers of Moustiers here: http://www.moustiers.fr/). The museum of faience has an exposition of the most beautiful local creations from XVII century until nowadays.

Moustiers is surrounded by 20 000 olive-trees and produces excellent olive oil. You can taste the oil and other local products at the local farmers’ market every Friday morning. Otherwise just take a walk through a beautiful olive garden around the village.

History

Traces of first human settlings around Moustiers date back to 30 000 B.C. The village got its name from the monastery of V century dedicated to Virgin Mary. From then on the history of the village is closely linked with the history of its churches and monasteries. In XII century it was an important place of pilgrimage. The economic prosperity of Moustiers is linked with faience industry. In XVII century Pierre Clerissy arrived to the village from the Italian town Faenza and opened there the first atelier. The history says that faience came in fashion after Louis XIV, known for his disproportional military and court spendings, ordered to melt all golden and silver dishes and replace them by faience. Faience “de Moustiers” was in big demand in XVII-XIX centuries; the village had twelve ateliers of faience and seventeen water-mills to feed local industry. The population of Moustiers has reached 5 000, however in the XIX century the popularity of faience and thus the local industry has withered. The last atelier closed its doors in 1873. In the beginning of XX century the local craft was reanimated, returning to Moustiers the status of the capital of French faience artists.

Practical information

A little village lost in the middle of the Regional Natural park Verdon, Moustiers is only accessible by car and tourist buses.
The closest airports are Marseille-Provence and Nice.
If you prefer travelling by train, consider Aix-en-Provence or Marseille as closest destinations.
If you consider spending your summer vacation in the Verdon, we suggest booking your accommodation beforehand!
Around Moustiers: Lake St. Croix, the gorges of Verdon, plateau de Valensole and its lavender fields; towns and villages: Bouduen, Greoux-les-Bains, Trigance, La Verdière, Moissac-Bellevue, Bargème.

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View of the village View of the village Entry of the village View of the village Streets of Moustiers St. Marie The bridge

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Streets of Moustiers St. Marie The Church square Chapelle Notre Dame de Beauvoir - view from the village L'église Notre-Dame Streets of Moustiers St. Marie View of the village

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Streets of Moustiers The washhouse

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