Moustieres Sainte Marie: Another unexpected treat

A wondrous view of Notre Dame de Beauvoir at night

A wondrous view of Notre Dame de Beauvoir at night from the village

The tiny village of Moustiers Sainte-Marie was a total surprise! I only decided to stay here because of the availability of budget accommodation near Gorge du Verdon. Little did I know that we would be seeing one of the “most beautiful villages in France” (it’s official), set against limestone cliffs.

View of the village: out of a postcard

View of the village: out of a postcard

One of the most notable features of the town is a large hanging star hanging between two rock formations high above the village. The history of the star is quite interesting. Legend has it that a chevalier of Blacus was taken prisoner by the Saracens (Arabs/Muslims) during a crusade in the Holy Land. The knight vowed to suspend a chain with a star above Moustiers if he returned. Apparently no one knows how the star was originally hung in place. The current star is 1.15m (4 feet) across, hung on a 225m long chain suspended between two cliffs, and originally placed in 1957. When the chain snapped ten years ago, the star was rehung by a helicopter.

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The Notre Dame de Beauvoir was one of the great pilgrimage churches of the Middle Ages. It is always really cool to visit sites like this, and imagine all the pilgrims ascending these steps and crossing these thresholds before you.

As you ascend the staircase up, you pass by these small pillars, chemin de croix, where pilgrims would stop to pray at along the way.

A chemin de croix along the staircase up to the church

A chemin de croix along the staircase up to the church

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The entrance to the chapel

Unfortunately, the chapel was closed.

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I was also unaware that Moustiers was so famed for a particular kind of pottery, Faience. Faience comes from the northern Italian region, Faenza, from which these wares were exported. Until today, I was not aware of the distinction between tin-based enamel (Faience) and lead-based enamel, say.

Because of the time of year, many things in the village were not open. As a result, our dining options for the evening were limited. We could not find the canteen the hotel staff pointed out, but it is pretty great to eat at a Michelin star restaurant (Les Santons) without knowing it, instead! We were wondering why the food was so good…

 

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