This spectacular town of 700 residents, is perched dramatically among the cliffs of the Regional Park of the Verdon.

Since 1981, it has been designated as one of the most beautiful villages of France (Les plus beaux villages de France).

Moustiers Sainte-Marie, France/ Kimberly Sullivan

Although human settlement in the area dates back tens of thousands of years, it was in the 5th century when monks from the Abbey of Lerins created a base in the travertine caves of the area, and founded a monastery.

Moustiers Sainte-Marie, France/ Kimberly Sullivan
QUITE a hike up to the chapel that has attracted centuries of pilgrims, but well, well worth it!

The chapel of Notre Dame de Beauvoir was built in this dramatic spot, and became an important pilgrimage site.

The town began to be built up in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Benefiting from hydropower in the 16th century, the town began developing tanning and paper mills.

The ceramics industry began here in the 17th century – and remains important, alongside tourism, today.

We had been in this region some years before and, somehow skipped over this spectacular town.

Moustiers Sainte-Marie, France/ Kimberly Sullivan

I blame this on an overeliance on guide books. Looking back at the guide I used during that trip, I see that the text pretty much wrote off this jaw-droppingly beautiful town.

Yes, there are lots of tourists, but even so, this is such a stunning town, and the grueling hike up to the clifftop church, which offered gorgeous views over the town, the gorges and the park below.

Moustiers Sainte-Marie, France/ Kimberly Sullivan

Thank goodness we stopped off on this visit, and made up for our former mistake.

We loved our visit to beautiful Moustiers Sainte-Marie, and I’m already eager to return to this dramatic perch, ideally in a quieter off-season to enjoy all this beauty tourist-free.

Just getting ready for that hike…

Moustiers Sainte-Marie, France/ Kimberly Sullivan
Moustiers Sainte-Marie, France/ Kimberly Sullivan
Moustiers Sainte-Marie, France/ Kimberly Sullivan