[MOUSTIERS-SAINTE-MARIE, FRANCE] — Moustiers in eastern Provence is the gateway to the great Gorge du Verdon. The Grand Canyon of France. And an Adventureland of fun, with trekking, boating, canyoning, climbing and just plain gawking at all the natural beauty.

Driving up from southern Provence, you first drive over the high and flat Valensole plateau, home to some of the largest and most stunning lavender fields in France.  Miles and miles of sweet purple flowers, as far as the eye can see.

Valensole plateau mountains
When you see pictures of fields of Provencal lavender, it’s usually from this high and dry plateau.  I was there in June and it was just shy of really hitting their peak blooms.
Valensole plateau, Provence
If you’re in Provence and you like lavender, this is Catnip Central. 🐈. . . . . 🐈. .. . . Head on up to the great purple plateau around Valensole. It’s purrfect. Ain’t nothin’ but lavender for miles. You can bathe in the views and lather up with lavande. This was about this time last year, so these were still in their pupae stage, right about ta bust out in this world and wiggle.

After driving across the plateau, you dip down into some of the most luscious, golden wheat fields you’ve ever seen. Picture perfect, dancing in the breeze


Moustiers is freakishly cool. Surreal. Almost looks like painted illustrations in a children’s storybook. With many pages.

Moustiers-Ste-Marie is also recognized as one of The Most Beautiful Villages of France, so when you see that, you know it’s going to be good. Moustiers is also hard to capture in a photo. It’s weird, there’s something about those mottled colored limestone cliffs that throws off cameras and makes for a mottled looking photo. Not just me, although I took about 23, google pictures from it and you can see what I mean. Everyone has the same results. They all look like they’re using the same filter, but this is a straight up click. There must be a million subtle shades of stone that camouflage this shy town.  It’s also known for its fancy pottery and home to one of the best hotels in France.  

Another reason why I came here was specifically to check out the world famous Alain Ducasse’s hotel and restaurant, La Bastide de Moustiers.  A hotel in the country, built around a fine restaurant. One of the prettiest places I’ve ever stayed.

Stay at Chef Alain Ducasse’s Famed Le Bastide de Moustiers

For over a decade I’ve wanted to make trek to La Bastide de Moustiers, famous chef Alain Ducasse’s famous country house that houses his famous restaurant where the famous lavender meets the mountains.

Calling it a hotel would be beneath it, really. This was too nice, too small. Too intimate. It’s more like staying at a friend’s country house… and your tasteful friend happened to be Alain Ducasse.😳 With only a handful of rooms, each decorated with its own Provençal theme, you feel like you have the whole place to yourself. And some exquisite sheets to crash after your Michelin-starred meal on the terrace and jaw dropping views.

Hehehe… this place was really good…

Last visited June 2015

Here are some other resources:

A nice little profile on the very handy Provence & Beyond website.

And TripAdvisor’s page. And Lonely Planet’s guide to cheaper accommodations.

And a great resource for Gorge du Verdon, official site.

And finally La Bastide de Moustier’s website.


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