Each day in Provence brought excitement and new beauty. I could hardly sleep at night because I was so excited to wake up and see what the following day had in store. There were places that we wanted to visit again, like the turquoise waters of Gorges du Verdon and the endless lavender fields in Valensole, and new places like the charming village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. This was our last full day in the countryside of Provence (we headed to the coast the next day), so we wanted to fit in as much as we could.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie was another town that Thomas had found on the ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages’ list and one of the towns we were most excited to visit. Originally our plan was to stop for lunch in town but we got a little side tracked when we stopped by the insane spray roses we drove by in a town called Céreste. We also couldn’t help but pull over when we spotted the lavender fields in Valensole (which we decided to visit again later in the afternoon for golden hour). So instead of arriving at 1, we arrived at 230. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie was one of our favorite spots on the whole trip, the town is built into the mountains with a stream and multiple waterfalls running right through the center. We also discovered an incredible pottery shop while there. According to the shop owner, this town and area were rich with history in fine china. She told us that for years and years, Europeans had been obsessed with china from China and Europeans weren’t able to replicate it back home, not until the craft was perfected near Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Today, this shop called, Bondil, employs local potters to make this traditional china. We must have spent 45 minutes in the shop, having already committed ourselves to the rest of our luggage, we ordered a beautiful blue and white set to be shipped back home to us.
Not too far from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is Lac St. Croix, which is a reservoir that damns the Verdon river, which flows from the Gorges du Verdon. It’s a large lake with 4-5 towns along its shores. On this day the lake was filled with activity. We watched paddleboat after paddleboat cruise around the area where the river meets the lake. Kids climbed the rocks along the cliff and jumped in one after another. The color of the water has a vibrant green hue, which during the middle of a summer day made the water look even more appealing. Had we brought swimsuits, we would have jumped right in. Two years ago, on our way to Valensole, we passed this same lake and remembered hearing music and seeing this quaint town on the water. So we decided if we ever returned to the lake, we’d stop for a meal in that town. With our stomachs empty from skipping lunch, we decided to have an early dinner of crepes at that same town (Bauduen) from our memories.
T and I both love lavender, but what’s not to love- purple hues, bees buzzing, beautifully manicured rows of plants and maybe the greatest smell in the world. I read somewhere that the scent of lavender is scientifically proven to make people happier. I don’t know who said it, but you won’t find me arguing against them. The Valensole Plateau is the world’s premier location for growing lavender. Despite our early arrival, were were probably 3 weeks early from peak bloom and vibrancy. Some of the fields we found, like the ones above and below, were already impressive spectacles. Two years ago, we visited Valensole and we happened to arrive right as the final fields were being harvested. We knew we wouldn’t time the lavender perfectly, but we both decided that a little too early is better than a little to late.