Moustiers-Ste-Marie

At the edge of all this epic wilderness, it's a bit of a shock to find this jaw-droppingly picture-perfect village tucked into a spectacular cleft in vertical cliffs, its bluffs laced with bridges, draped with medieval stone houses, and crowned with church steeples. The Verdon River gushes out of the rock at the village's heart, and between the two massive rocks that tower over the ensemble, a star swings suspended from a chain.

To most, the name Moustiers means faience, the fine, glazed earthenware that has been produced here since the 17th century, when a monk brought in the secret of enamel glazes from Faenza in Umbria. Its brilliant white finish caught the world's fancy, especially when the fashionable grotesques of Jean Berain, decorator to Louis XIV, were imitated and produced in exquisite detail. A colony of ceramists still creates Moustiers faience today, from large commercial producers to independent artisans.

More than 20,000 olive trees grow on the dry stone of Claux hill and so you'll find Moustiers olive oil at the Friday morning market, along with local delicacies including tapenade, lavender honey, and handmade cookies.

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