moustiers-sainte-marie, france

Before visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, I'd heard quite a bit about its beauty, both natural and manmade, as it is located below two cliffs and at the beginning of the famous Gorges du Verdon, and the buildings are colorful and historic (or at least they appear that way!).  I think Moustiers had been talked up so much as a "must visit" (you know those places!) that when we got there, I was kind of this the same place?  This doesn't look like those two pictures I saw in my guidebook and it's not nearly as charming as it was talked up to be.  I mean, don't get me wrong - it was great!  Yes, I still remember that terrible lavender ice cream, but I also recall the delicious scoop of vanilla we split, some pretty alleys we walked down, and the stream that we walked across...Moustiers-Sainte-Marie definitely deserves its place on the Most Beautiful Villages in France list.  

So now that I've given my brief introduction to what I expected and subsequently found in Moustiers, a little bit about what's actually there: the village has a (tiny) canyon running through the middle of it (which has a rushing stream in the middle of it) and a few old stone bridges crossing over it.  The 12th century Church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption is located in the middle of town, and in the cliffs above the village there's the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir Chapel, which dates from the 8th century and has been popular with pilgrims for ages.  Literally.  It's been hopping since the Middle Ages.  

We didn't do much besides walk all around and up the path to the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir Chapel (which I recommend if for no other reason than for the views), and figure out that lavender ice cream definitely isn't our favorite (but a pure, quality vanilla is!).  While we enjoyed Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, we were eager to continue on and see another French (and Pinterest) highlight, the Gorges du Verdon.  

See more from our trip road trip around southern France: our day in Toulouse here, and all of our stops on our first day: Cahors, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Bouzies, Rocamadour, Padirac CaveLoubressac, and Figeac.  We began our second day in Marcillac-Vallon and Belcastel, made a stop at the Viaduc de Millau before heading into the Gorges du Tarn, and finally checked out the lovely Sainte-Enimie.  That night, we stayed in Le-Pont-de-Montvert.  

We started our third day in Labeaume before driving through the Gorges de l'Ardeche and stopping afterwards in Aiguèze and then spending some time checking out Roman remains in Orange and staying the night in Vaison-la-Romaine.  The next morning we explored out Vaison-la-Romaine and drove on to Sisteron.