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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 4 - Moustiers Sainte-Marie

After a long driving in the morning session, and the 2-hour boat ride at Gorges du Verdon in the afternoon session, we felt tired. 

Fortunately, the next destination was just 20-min driving distance from the canyon.Hearing this, the boys had no complaint about it. 

At around 4 pm, we were on the road again....

Not long later, we have reached this village. Husband said parking is a common problem here. So we kept our finger crossed that we could get a lot fast enough.

Just when we turned to the right junction, a car was leaving at that time. Lucky we, for didn't even need to wait for it.

While husband was pulling the luggage from the boot, I looked up those steep cliff, and started to feel curious about the village that was built right at the cliff's feet.

Then, we walked a short path where both of the sides was covered with thick trees. At the end of the path, we saw the village immersed behind those thick trees...

The moment we entered the village, I felt love-at-the-first-sight, again.

Moustiers Sainte-Marie (or simply Moustiers) is located at the entrance of the Gorges du Verdon. The good geographic location has attracted many tourists to the village.

The village clings a hundred or so metres up the side of a limestone cliff. Quite magnificent to see it with real eyes.

The village sits astride a rushing mountain stream that divides the two halves with a narrow rocky canyon.

Above the village, the center piece is a 12th-century Notre-Dame church,behind the ruins of the ancient defensive walls.

The church has been beautifully restored in 1928, topped by a four-level Lombard Romanesque (Italianate) bell tower.

Moustiers has been the centre of pottery trade, especially "faience" ceramics, for centuries.

The whole village is packed full of "faience" shops, very few normal shops.

Moustiers has a rich history in ceramic craftsmanship and faience is renowned for its fine decoration.

Told husband that I would definitely go to check every "faience" store later on.

On the way to find our hotel, we saw some stalls selling home made biscuit...

all looks very yummy...

I have bought 4 biscuit for each of us, and that that cause more than Euro 12 already. Quite expensive, especially when we get to know it tastes too sweet for our liking.

The sound of the river, and the running waterfalls all over the village, give Moustiers the feeling of an Alpine village.

The center of the village, quite tourist oriented and looks prosperous to me.

Interesting, that's the place I wanted to visit...

Absolutely beautiful.

I wonder if the rocks ever fell down from the cliff all these years?

About 15 minutes later, we reached the main road, which looks modernized.

Our hotel, Le Relais is located just on the main road. We found it without many hassles.

While waiting for husband to check in the hotel, I took a quick look around the place.

The hotel is located just next to the running river and waterfall.

After husband got the key card, we walked to the back door to go to our room. Surprisingly, there is an elevator in there for the guests. So, going upstairs with luggage is not a problem. Excellent !!

The best thing is, our hotel room is facing this side. Whenever we looked out from our room, this postcard scene we would get to see.

And that's the scene on our left hand side.

Our room, old yet charming...

There is a balcony in our room, with absolutely fantastic view.

Sitting on the balcony, I could see that everyone who looked up to us in our room, their eyes were full of envious, haha...

When I was sitting on the balcony, I noticed there is a golden star hangs on a long chain suspended between 2 cliffs.

According to the legend, during the Crusades, the knight Bozon de Blacas held prisoner by the Saracens vowed to hang a star over the village on his return. No one knows how it was originally hung there.

The original star and chain have been replaced several times. The current star is about 50 years old.Cool.

I like to think that the presence of the star is to bless the people who live in the village though.

After taking a short rest in the room, we went out for a walk. Husband said we should walked up to the chapel on the cliff's top. And that would be the end point of our walk for the day. 

There we go...having many stops here and there before reaching to the top.

The village has many narrow medieval streets and vaulted passages.

 It becomes more "natural" when we get up above the ceramic shops.

Most of the shops make their own faience pottery in ateliers that are outside of the village. And most advertise " unique" items.

I am pretty sure what they claim as "unique" items is a true statement, cause I haven't seen these kind of pottery in other places we have gone before.

The shops are well organized and professionally run, and the price of the faience is well established.

I think there are hundreds or thousands of faience pottery (big and small) sold in every shops around.

Besides the old chapel on hill top, there is also this church in the center of the village.

A humble church, nothing is too fancy inside there.

A small shop that sell ice cream. In addition, they can make the ice cream in a rose shape upon one's request.

I really like the setting of this small village. How nice if the place we are living is like this...

For pottery lover, Moustiers is definitely the right place to go.

The more I get to see it, the more I like them. But in reality, it's too hard to carry them home, sigh.

So, those lovely pottery will remain in my memory forever. Sometimes, good things remain good because we can't have it.

Another faience shop...

The owner didn't even bother to follow me when I went upstairs to take a look of more of her display.

So I could take my own sweet time to admire them, also, to take some photos of the display.

The rooster made me think of the traditional china bowl I've seen in my grandma's house. Only this rooster is more fine and detail than my grandma's.

Moustiers has many cats. Those cats walked around the village like it's nobody business. This cat, she won't even lift her eyes a bit to check who was disturbing her.

Seeing this facial expression, I think I knew what's in his mind.

Got you.....

Enough playing the cat, I made them to move on.

Moustiers has many narrow streets...some very busy, some very quiet.

I think the owner of this house is a very friendly person, considering she / he is willing to make a stone bench outside her / his house for stranger to sit on.

And boy, they really sit here for about 5 minutes long...

That's the kind of front door I admire....

When we are free, sons and I can sit here to chat and to watch the people goes by....

The house at next door...

Another cat came, and she had attracted my boys instantly.

I started to wonder if every house owns a cat?

It would be nice if we can have a house like this in the village.

What to say, old-husband-old-wife lo...

Passed by our hotel room, at above. Cool...

At one side....

At the other side....

And a waterfall runs through the 2 sides.

The time was nearly 5.30 pm by then, but we still walked like a turtle towards the old church built on the cliff.

Still stopped at many places from time to time....

I looked up the sky, and felt blessed to see the star was shinning above us. Ok ok, here we come...

Finally, we have walked back to the entrance of the village. There are some terrace cafes right there for people to chill out with family or friends.

At last, we were standing on the pilgrimages to the church located at hill top.

What are you doing kid? Let's move....

A walk up to the chapel has given us a fantastic view...

Those red-tiled roofs of the village and the expanse of the Maire valley, are all beautiful. 

William said this looks something like the Great Wall of China...I agreed with him too. 

Some American tourists had asked for my favor to take a group photo for them. In returning my favor, she helped to take a family photo for us too. That's what tourists should do for one another, right. 

Not even half to the top.

The boys felt curious to the cave they have found on the way. Luckily, they were too chicken to go inside...

The stone path is very slippery. William and I should have worn the sport shoes instead of convenient slippers...sigh.

Salute to the trip manager who have found this slippery path to us to walk up to. 

For husband and Vincent who did wear the sport shoes, they were ok to walk on this slippery path. 

half way to the chapel....

The steep walk up to the chapel follows a wide paved path, passing through defensive doorways similar to the citadel path at Entrevaux. 

The path, lined with 12 stations of the cross, has been used for pilgrimages to the chapel since the year 470.  

we were almost there....

Ok, finally we were there.

The village as seen from the hill top. 

Excellent view of the village. 

This chapel is called Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel, sitting high in the notch above the village.

The history of the chapel dates back to the time of Charlemagne in 8th century, and was restored in the 12th and 16th centuries. 

There is nothing fancy about this chapel, but we were drawn by its tranquility. 

We sat there for some time, to let our heart and mind calm down...

This would be a great place for retreat, and to isolate one from the noisy world out there.

Looking up to the sky, the paragliding have brought us back to the reality world. 

I'm too old for this.

There isn't much to see up there besides the chapel, so we walked down to the village after staying there for a short while.

20 minutes later, we were back to the village.

I love this tree, could feel its energy as well. 

The time was around 7 pm by then. Yet it still a bit early to go for dinner. Most of the people were still enjoying their late afternoon beverages in the open air. 

They boys said they were tired, so we walked them back to the room. 

After settling down the boys in the room, husband and I went out again for a little short walk.

This time, we saw things in more detail.... 

Before returning to the hotel, we took away some crepes and burgers and fries for the kids as dinner, as this was their order.

Then, we just called them to come down to collect their foods, didn't even bother to go up again.How convenient !

The sun almost set at 8 pm. The sunlight had turned this place a gold mine. 

So warm, so beautiful....

I like the sign board at my back, no specific reasons.

The big waterfall next to our hotel....

A romantic restaurant for dining. Judging from its relatively high class setting, we think the price is at high end too. Old-husband-old-wife like us didn't want to spend too lavishly on this. 

Instead, we choose the restaurant which is opposite that romantic restaurant.

My dinner for the night...

Husband's dinner for the night. The foods were tasty, cost was reasonable too, about Euro 45.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel. Husband called the boys to meet us downstairs...

Then, the 4 of us took a little short walk around the village. 

Feeling spooky to walk in the night time...

At one point, we could look down to the restaurant where husband and I had taken our dinner at.

Surprisingly, some shops were still opened even though the time was nearly 10 pm by then. We guess the owner couldn't sleep too early. 

Looks like a scene in the fairy tale. 

An empty street in sleep. 

The street as seen from our room's balcony, at 11 pm. There wasn't many people walking in this area anymore, yet we could hear the songs coming from the village center. We guess people had gone partying by then....

Good night, Moustiers. 


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