Sainte-Croix du Verdon & Moustiers Sainte-Marie
At an altitude of 513 m, the village of Sainte Croix overlooks the lake from its rocky vantage point. Set in a stunningly beautiful landscape where nature reigns supreme, the village is composed of pretty, picturesque houses, charming flower-filled lanes and squares, a 16th-century parish church and the remains of a medieval castle.
There is evidence of ancient human habitation in this area, as attested by prehistoric traces of dwellings. The toponym “Sainte Croix” (“Holy Cross”) appears in the Middle Ages, coming from its church, which claimed to retain a relic of the cross of Christ.
Until the 1970s, the main activity of the village was agricultural and took place in the valley, which resembled a huge fertile plain criss-crossed by a powerful river. But with the construction of the dam and the flooding of the plain, the landscape was metamorphosed. Human activity has adapted to this new context, linked to the presence of the lake and tourism. In summer, the pulse of the village and its inhabitants quickens. The whole region vibrates to the rhythm of the lavandin harvest and the Provençal festivals.
The association Culture, Loisir et Patrimoine (“Culture, Leisure and Heritage”) offers an exhibition “Memory of the Valley” with many documents on the valley drowned by the Lake of Sainte Croix, with the possibility of screening period films.
In Sainte-Croix, restaurants offer a wide selection of menus with Mediterranean and Provençal flavours. Try Les Terrasses du Lac, Le Comptoir, L’Actuel, La Garrigue, l’Auberge du Castellas or La Taverne du Lac.
In July, Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon is the scene of numerous activities and festivities: fbread festival, patron saint’s festival, and fireworks launched from the lake while the small streets of the village are abuzz with activity. On Tuesdays in July and August, the Sainte-Croix market is also held on the shores of the lake. This is a fantastic opportunity to discover local crafts and producers.
On the other side of the lake, at the beginning of the Verdon Gorges, is one of the most beautiful listed villages in France: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. With its religious monuments, fortifications and bridges, the village’s architectural heritage blends into the surrounding landscape. Its history really begins in the 5th century with the construction of the monastery by the monks of Lérins, which gave rise to the name Moustiers (from Monasterio in the Middle Ages). The village offers magnificent walks, both in its heart and in the surroundings (waterfall of Rion, Notre Dame de Beauvoir or the Sainte Madeleine cave).
Moustiers is also known internationally for the finesse of its earthenware, with its unique and recognisable patterns. The art of earthenware has been cultivated since the 17th century. The Musée de la Faïence earthenware museum traces the special history of this craft. Still today, the village is home to a dozen active workshops and more than twice as many specialist shops.
Flanked by majestic cliffs, the village is famous for its legendary star, suspended between two rocky escarpments at 227 metres high.
According to the story told by Frédéric Mistral, the star is an ex-voto dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The heart of its economy revolves around tourism and the earthenware tradition.