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Your guide to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, one of the most beautiful villages in France

May 17, 2024 by Jamie Gallerani

Looking for a France tour that offers Provençal charm, picturesque mountain scenery, and some of the prettiest French pottery? Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is calling! “What you imagine when hearing ‘quaint medieval French village’ is what you get with Moustiers-Sainte-Marie,” said staffer Lydia. Read on to discover how to make the most of your time in one of the most beautiful villages in France.

What makes Moustiers-Sainte-Marie one of the most beautiful villages in France?

Every corner of France is a treat, but each region has a handful of spots that are designated as “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France,” or the most beautiful villages in France—and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is one of them! This list was first introduced in the early 1980s, and only the villages that meet certain criteria make the cut. (Think: no more than 2,000 inhabitants and at least two protected sites.) “Anyone who has been to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie will agree that it’s so magical that it almost doesn’t feel real,” said staffer Lauren. It’s so stunning, in fact, that it’s even made our list of 28 places in France that are straight out of a storybook.

Where is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie?

Also known simply as “Moustiers,” this dreamy destination is nestled between two limestone cliffs in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southeastern France. It’s one of the prettiest places to visit in Provence, and we’ve saved you a seat on our France tours.

When is the best time to visit Moustiers?

  • Spring offers blue skies and leisurely lunch weather. The off-season months of March, April, and May make for lighter crowds and pleasant days. “I went the first week of May,” said staffer Lydia after her time on our French Riviera & Provence: Nice, Avignon & Aix-en-Provence tour. “The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and there was a nice breeze.”
  • Late June to early August means Provençal lavender. If the mere mention of Provence makes you dream about those famed purple flowers, then you’re in luck: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a jumping-off point to some of the loveliest lavender fields in France. The village is about a half-hour drive from the Plateau de Valensole, where rows of blooms wait for their photo op. (If lavender is what you seek, remember: Summer temps can soar, and flowers are often harvested in mid-July, so plan your trip accordingly.)
  • Fall makes for fewer crowds. “Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is one of the most special places I have ever been to!” said staffer Lauren. “I visited in the fall of 2022 and fell in love. We had perfect weather that day and it wasn’t very crowded, so the town was quiet and serene. There’s a small creek and waterfall in the center of the village, and I sat by it, listening to the water running and taking in the sights.”
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What are the best things to do in Moustiers?

  • Spot the gold star soaring 200 feet above the village. It’s barely a speck in the sky, suspended between two limestone peaks, but l’étoile de Moustiers is one of the village’s most famous attractions. Nobody can say for sure how it came to be there, but there are certainly theories. (According to the French poet Frédéric Mistral, a knight put the star there as an offering to the Virgin Mary after he survived the Crusades.) “The star that hangs in between the mountains, and its storied past, adds an even greater level of charm,” said staffer Lauren. “I’m a fan of Frédéric Mistral, and I loved hearing his legend about it.”
  • Find your favorite piece of faïence pottery. If handcrafted goods are your idea of a perfect souvenir, make room in your suitcase for faïence. Moustiers is famed for this type of tin-glazed earthenware, which has been produced in the village since the 1600s. Use your free time to shop for handmade ceramics and then pop into the Museum of Faïence to dig into the handicraft’s history.
  • Taste lavender ice cream from l’Étoile Givrée. This regional treat is a literal taste of Provence—some of the prettiest lavender fields in the region aren’t far away, after all. Be sure to taste the version from l’Étoile Givrée, an artisanal ice cream shop that uses local ingredients to create amazing flavors. Grabbing a cone is the perfect way to round out your time in the village! Looking for even more Provençal bites to try? Here are 20 foods a French local said you can’t miss.
  • Climb to the 12th-century Chapelle Notre-Dame de Beauvoir. This landmark chapel sits above the main part of the town, and getting to it requires an uphill trek on paths and stone stairways. But it’s worth it—and you’ll be rewarded with unbelievable views of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and the surrounding countryside. “Climbing the hill up to Notre-Dame de Beauvoir is worth it for the beautiful views and the chance to visit the chapel,” said staffer Lauren. “I’m not usually someone who enjoys visiting churches while traveling, but the age and location of this chapel at the top of the hill was fascinating.”
  • Stroll by earth-toned buildings along cobblestone streets. French villages don’t get much more charming than Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, and strolling around (with your camera in hand) is the ideal way to enjoy free time. Lace up some good walking shoes and simply set off—cars can’t reach many of the smaller streets, so you can admire the medieval lanes and pop into local shops to your heart’s content.
  • Take a day trip to the Gorges du Verdon. Known as the Verdon Gorge in English, this geographical wonder is often called the Grand Canyon of Europe. It’s filled with turquoise water and surrounded by 2,000-foot cliffs... in other words, it’s stunning. While it isn’t actually in Moustiers, it’s just a stone’s throw awaythe village is situated within the Verdon Natural Regional Park. “I visited Moustiers-Sainte-Marie while traveling back to Aix-en-Provence from the Verdon Gorge, which is as breathtaking as they say it is,” said staffer Lauren. “Taking out one of the paddle boats and jumping in the crisp water was surely a highlight.”
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Which tours include a stop in Moustiers?

Want to step into the magic of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie on a trip to Provence? Find your France tour and get ready to be charmed.

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About the author | Jamie Gallerani
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.

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