A week ago I visited the southeastern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in France and stayed in Cavalaire-Sur-Mer in the department of Var. With a hire car and a camera, I explored what the region had to offer and I was not disappointed. This was my second visit to the region and it was just as beautiful the second time around as it was the first.
Bonporteau Beach, Cavalaire-Sur-Mer
I couldn’t visit Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur without making a trip into St-Tropez. Saint-Tropez is a town about 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Nice and is located on the French Riviera. After the war it became an internationally known seaside resort, well known for its influx of artists of the French New Wave and it also became a resort for the European and American jet set with the occasional chance to do a bit of celebrity spotting.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the ports, boats and the busy high streets, you can take a stroll in the side streets where you feel like you have been transported back in time, being surrounded by beautiful old buildings.
Castellane & Gorges du Verdon
Taking a drive to the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, I decided to revisit Castellane. Castellane is a charming place to visit, very scenic and a very peaceful place. Here you can visit La Chapelle Notre Dame du Roc…if you can handle the climb!
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages of France and I have to say that I agree. The views are simply breathtaking.
It lies at the western entrance to the Gorges du Verdon. The village has been a centre of the pottery trade, especially faïence, for centuries. A spring flows out of the cliff and creates a waterfall in town, providing water power. The village was built on platform terraces a hundred or so metres up the side of a limestone cliff.
The Gold Star
“Moustiers evokes a Nativity scene: confined between two rock ledges, a star dominates the village from a great height…”
According to Frédéric Mistral, the star is an ex-voto dedicated to St. Mary. The knight Blacas decided to hang a star there as a homage to the Virgin on his return from the Crusades.
Other versions talk about love stories, the Three Kings or Chivalry… Although many versions exist about the origin of the star none have been verified to date. The mystery remains total on the origin and meaning of the star above Moustiers… The size of the star we see today dates from 1957. It is the eleventh to hang above the mountain road. In 1995 it was covered in gold leaf before returning to its vigil over the village. The size of the star, which originally had five points has changed over time from 1.80 to 30 cm. Today, the chain is 135 m long, weighs 150kg and the star covered in gold leaf measures 1.25 m.
(Office de tourisme Moustiers Sainte-Marie – Gorges du Verdon, 2016)
Lac de Sainte-Croix
Domaine du Rayol
Towards the end of the trip I visited the Domaine du Rayol, also known as the Jardin botanique du Rayol and the Parc botanique à Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer, a botanical garden and arboretum located on the Avenue des Belges, Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and can’t wait until I return again sometime next year.
Au revoir France, à bientôt…
Domaine du Rayol. (2016). Le jardin des méditerranées. [online] Available at: http://www.domainedurayol.org [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].
Office de tourisme Moustiers Sainte-Marie – Gorges du Verdon. (2016). The legend of the star. [online] Available at: http://www.moustiers.eu/?Legende-de-l-etoile&lang=en [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].
Wikipedia. (2016). Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpes-de-Haute-Provence [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].
Wikipedia. (2016). Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provence-Alpes-Côte_d%27Azur [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].
Wikipedia. (2016). Saint-Tropez. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Tropez [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].