Exactly a year ago, we were in the middle of an 11-day road trip around the South of France. It was an absolutely massive undertaking to plan, inspired by cheap flights from Madrid to Toulouse and Lonely Planet's France's Best Trips book. I pieced together many of the different road trip itineraries in the book and added in some additional stops based on blogs and sites I'd read online. The final plan was very ambitious and had us covering quite a bit of southern France, but the end result was...fabulous (if I do say so myself). Now, when I think about going anywhere in Europe on vacation, a few places come to mind, and the South of France is without a doubt at the top of that list.
The "Grand Canyon of France" and place of Instagram and Pinterest fame (you know what I'm talking about...see it here), the Gorges du Verdon was a must-see for me on our French road trip. I was really looking forward to our time in the gorge, and debated different ways of seeing it (rafting, kayaking, hiking, etc) but when it came down to it, we decided to wait and see how much time we had the next morning and what we could fit in. We found one good pull off where some people were getting out and walking a bit, so we did just that, but - broken record alert! - due to time constraints, we couldn't do a kayak or raft trip on the aquamarine waters of France's deepest gorge and just stuck with driving.
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 like...wait...is 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.