There are two ways to enter the 5-star La Bastide de Moustiers. Option 1: drive down scenic winding roads, past the turquoise Verdon Gorge, under a canopy of trees and through the gate, which requires vocal confirmation upon entrance. Option 2: check out the view from above and land on the La Bastide de Moustiers’ helipad.
Our road trip took us on the scenic path, alive with the colors of autumn and past the river canyon considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. Upon arrival at La Bastide de Moustiers, we were welcomed with warm smiles and a guide to our room.
Perhaps room is not the best word, though, because La Chambre Rose Trémière is one half of a cottage with views of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
Four windows in the room lends to the bright and airy feel of the place, and the built in bookshelves make it feel like home. A large armoire and set of drawers invited us to unpack and stay a while, instead of the two days we had booked.
Fresh, country air and a bathroom full of luxe products beckoned us to rest, and we certainly answered that call. The miles driven through the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence melted away with hot showers followed by fluffy bathrobes.
Dinner at the one Michelin starred La Bastide de Moustiers is an intimate affair, with dishes made with local and seasonal flavors. The set menu of an appetizer, main and dessert was €52, which felt like quite a deal. I tried the foie gras, partridge and dessert with lemon curd and what tasted like buttercream icing. When we left, we were full and happy… So full and happy that we couldn’t possibly finish the brownie mignardise! Thankfully, the server saw the look of regret in our eyes and let us take the plate back to our room.
walked rolled ourselves back to the room, we found our bed turned down with cookies and a note about tomorrow’s weather. I appreciate a place that caters to my sheer American-ness and inability to understand Celsius.
Every detail is thought out to cater to guests’ comfort and relaxation…. right down to linen pajamas! The pajamas come in two different patterns, specifically for the comfort of men or women. Since I’m traveling with my mom, I wore the “Mr,” but didn’t feel cheated out of feminine comfort in the least.
I woke up refreshed and ready for the day… but not quite ready to get out of bed! Thankfully, breakfast is the same price whether you choose to dine in the restaurant or in bed, so I picked up the phone and asked to dine in the room. The spread for my mom and I took two people to carry it all, and I slightly regretted snacking on the previous night’s cookies while I waited for breakfast to arrive. The freshly baked bread and local jams, perfectly cooked omelette, fruit salad and yogurt were a great start to the day.
We’d need all the energy we could muster, because the walk up to Moustiers Sainte Marie is a steep one! The village is one of the le plus beaux villages de France (that means really pretty!), with cute pottery ateliers and boutiques dotting the cobblestone streets.
You’re sure to notice the star hung between two rock ledges. Legend has it that the star’s mysterious origins date back to the Crusades. Knight Bozon de Blacas vowed to hang a star over the village if he were able to return to the town after being held prisoner by the Saracens. Was the Crusader able to hang the star upon his return? No one know exactly how it got there, but I’m a fan of a little mystery!
The village is a must-visit, but you’d be forgiven for not wanting to leave the property. Laze in a hammock and gaze at the alps or try your hand at pétanque. Wander through the property’s five thematic gardens: the herb garden, the salad garden, the garden of the simple, the root garden and the wild garden and stop to smell the flowers.
Or visit the donkey or the ‘double pony’ (bigger than a pony, smaller than a horse), for a decidedly non-floral scent. I lucked out and went to visit the animals at just the right time. Two employees were checking on the garden and gave me tomatoes to feed the donkey. Once we ran out, he threw a little braying fit… I feel the same way when I run out of snacks!
Evenings have a bit of an autumn chill, but daytime is still warm enough to put on a swimsuit and enjoy the pool! I spent my afternoon on a lounge chair with a fluffy towel and a big pair of sunglasses. The pool is temperature controlled, but I was not quite brave enough to get in, since the outside air was just a bit too cool for comfort.
After all the rest and relaxation, I felt ready for an adrenaline kick and asked the team at the front desk to arrange a paragliding experience. Lucie was happy to help and set up the appointment and ensured that I knew how to get there.
This doesn’t have quite the fear factor of bungy jumping (unless you count the cliff-edge driving to get to the jump spot), but it was a great way to see the Verdon Gorge from above.
When it was time to leave, I didn’t want to go. This hotel is high end, but maintains a balance of warmth and homeyness that other hotels in this category lack. No matter where you’re from, arriving at La Bastide de Moustiers feels like coming home.
“In 1994, while riding my motorcycle at random on the roads of Provence, I discovered a house standing amidst lavender and olive trees. I made it my anchoring harbour, my home, before deciding to open it to others. It has always had this very special place in my heart, and it still has today… ” -Alain Ducasse, famed French chef and owner of La Bastide de Moustiers