Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (Mostiers Santa Maria in Provençal) is a commune located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte region (France), near the Sainte-Croix Lake.

Nestled against a rocky escarpment, Moustiers is often compared to a nativity scene with its star suspended in the void. The town has obtained the official Villages and Cities of Character label, it is part of the Verdon regional natural park and is a member of the association of The Most Beautiful Villages of France.

It lies at the western entrance to the Verdon Gorge (Verdon River).

A spring flows from the cliff, creating a waterfall in town and providing water power.

The village was built on platform terraces, a hundred metres up the side of a limestone cliff. At twilight, when the sun on a clear day strikes the south-facing cliff, a diffuse, pink light glows across the village.

Tourism and main attractions

Above the town, a gold-painted star hangs on a 225m-long chain suspended between two cliffs. Its origin, according to a legend popularised by Provençal poet Frédéric Mistral, lies in the 10th century (the original star and chain have been replaced several times since then). The current star is about 50 years old; ten years ago, it fell after the chain snapped (and was rehung using a helicopter).

Founded in 1930, the Moustiers Museum is dedicated to Moustiers earthenware and presents earthenware – made in the village – from different periods, including beautiful decorated pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries and works of the masters Clérissy, Olérys and Ferrat. In 2014, the museum was renovated and its collections enriched, thanks to a donation from collector Pierre Jourdan-Barry.

The parish church of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption is classified as a historic monument. Its construction is well known: it was ordered by Cardinal Pierre de Pratis, between 1336 and 1361. Only the choir was built and formed a pronounced angle with the nave. This is Romanesque and extends over a length of five bays, with pointed barrel vaults and two side aisles. The capitals are decorated with oak leaves. The bell tower, in the Lombard style, is pierced with Romanesque arcades supported by fine columns.

The Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir, or d’Entremont, or de la Roche Chapel, has a Romanesque porch, dominated by a small bell tower from the same period as the parish church. The wooden door dates from the Renaissance. Inside, the first two bays of the nave are Romanesque and date back to the 12th century; the other two are Gothic (as well as the apse).

Natural heritage

The commune has 1,797 ha of woods and forests, or 20% of its surface area.

Since March 3, 1997, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie has been one of the 46 municipalities of the Verdon Regional Natural Park. The remarkable character of its natural, cultural and landscape heritage is, thus, nationally recognized.

Shortest distances by car

From Paris: 9 hr 10 min (834 km) via A6 and A7

From Toulouse: 5 hr 9 min (491 km) via A61 and A9

From Marseille: 1 hr 53 min (132 km) via A51

From Nice: 2 hr 21 min (144 km) via A8

From Monaco: 2 hr 34 min (167 km) via A8

From Andorra: 6 hr 53 min (577 km) via A9

From Madrid: 12 hr 47 min (1,197 km) via A-2

From Moscow: 37 hr (3,221 km) via E30/M1

From Belgrade: 16 hr 7 min (1,470 km) via E70 and A4

From Istanbul: 27 hr (2,419 km) via A4

From Bern: 6 hr 10 min (524 km) via A1

Main information

Area: 87,97 km2

Population: 706

Coordinates: 43°50′54″N 6°13′19″E

Language: French, Provençal

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

See here France travel guide

See here Spain travel guide

See here Pyrenees travel guide

See here Andorra travel guide

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