Updated: Aug 21
Hello. My name is Nina. I am Australian.
I come from a small village near Sydney and I am delighted today to be able to share with you my excursion to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie with Virginie.
An immersion course in Provence at Virginie’s house for a week in autumn was a carefully considered choice in order to take advantage of the mild weather that Provence still offers during this period, but also to avoid the tourist flow of July and August.
My story will demonstrate that it was a very nice idea.
On the road to adventure
This is how my excursion started ...
Virginie asks me one morning: “What do you think of an excursion to one of the most beautiful villages in France called Moustiers-Sainte-Marie? "
Before answering her, I prefer to do some research on the village and be sure that I will like it.
The photos of the village that I see make me want to go there.
That’s why I gladly accept her proposal.
I am even looking forward discovering this little wonder.
Discovery of the Verdon Regional Park
On the morning of October 11, we therefore set off towards Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and on the road, we cross part of the Verdon Regional Natural Park.
This park is an incredible natural space for its fauna, its flora or its landscapes.
The Gorges du Verdon and the Lac de Sainte Croix are emblematic sites, as is the Valensole plateau.
Moreover, we stop on the Valensole plateau to admire the lavender fields.
Lavender flourishing from mid-June to mid-July, the fields are indeed filled with lavender plants but they are cut very short.
They are shaped like a gray and green ball on a red earth covered with white and yellow pebbles.
They are in long, narrow rows like an army of soldiers.
It’s a surprising spectacle, but a beautiful one.
In front of us rise sharp gray and ocher cliffs against a clear blue sky.
These are the mountains of the Alpes de Haute Provence. Wow !!! The view is beautiful.
History of the Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel
We arrive at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and I am almost a little disappointed that the path has passed so quickly.
But my disappointment is only short-lived.
When we arrive in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, I am captivated by its chapel overlooking the village between the two cliffs.
This is the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir Chapel.
It was built between the 12th and 16th centuries and was listed as a historic monument in 1921.
Romanesque and Gothic styles coexist in this monument.
A legend exists around the chapel.
In the 17th century, it seems that stillborn children came back to life there so that they could be baptized and thus reach heaven.
Notre-Dame de Beauvoir seen up close
We take rue Marcel de Provence.
Signs show us how to get to the chapel.
262 steps of a stone staircase on the hillside separate us from the chapel.
At the end of the path, hidden by the cypresses, we discover the magnificent 12th century vestige of the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir Chapel.
The interior is noise-free and light-free.
The stained-glass windows are bright and red, green and blue and give us a little light.
When our eyes get used to the darkness, we realize that the choir and the altar are even more remarkable.
We sit there for a while (it's hard to say exactly how long) to admire this magnificent monument.
There is nobody. It’s so calm.
Although in the dark, we felt serene and protected.
The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
After a while (it's hard to know how long), we decide to go back down to the village.
The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie has been classified as Most Beautiful Villages of France since 1981.
All the monuments that make up the village (ramparts, chapel, fountains, etc.) give an impression of homogeneity.
This homogeneity brings softness to the village, a feeling of being in a cocoon that encourages people to want to protect this so authentic place.
To date, there are 700 inhabitants in the village. Its economy revolves around tourism and the earthenware industry.
Numerous shops (especially artists' and craftsmen's stalls) and restaurants open their arms to you all year round.
We choose a restaurant and have prawns with pastis on the terrace: a chef's specialty who also seems to please the village cat.
I won't tell you more and will let you discover the rest for yourselves.
This excursion was a real pleasure. The trip is definitely worth it.
The beauty of the site, the calm of the streets make me want to come back to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie on my next trip to France.
I highly recommend this visit during fall or spring.
With all my love
I am grateful to Nina for agreeing to share this memory with all of us.
If you are coming for an immersion stay in Provence, I really invite you to contact Virginie in Provence. She will be happy to make you discover the different aspects of Provence: landscapes and scents, but also culture, gastronomy... while helping you to improve your French.