Room 14 and a chapel on the hill

IMG_0146Route de Moustiers (Route D952) goes through Roumoules and winds 7.5 miles toward

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Moustiers is a small village that sits in the rugged mountains of Alpes de Haute Provence in France, existing since at least the mid 1700’s it is listed as one of the most beautiful cities in France, which is well deserved.

We stayed in Room 14 at the Hotel le Relais, an inn at the center of town. Remodeled in recent years they have managed to keep the old world charm with such modern fixtures as electronic keys. If the front doors are locked, as they may be, there is a passageway to the left that takes you to a small courtyard, next to a church. There is a door there for guests into the hotel.

Room 14 is worth the extra, the best place we stayed in on our entire 3-week journey. It is the largest room in the hotel, but it is the two floor to ceiling French doors that open to a breathtaking view of the valley and the mountains in the distance that makes you just want to grab a bottle of Cote de Rhone red wine, a baguette from the bakery next door, some cheese from a shop down the way, and sit. So that is exactly what we did.

We watched the sun set behind the mountains across the valley while we reminisced about the almost 3 weeks we had already spent in Europe. That afternoon was certainly one of the highlights of the entire trip. From our deck we watched cars drive the D952 toward Moustiers or destinations beyond. Below us travelers and locals walked by on the stone walks, cars delicately navigated the narrow streets.

IMG_0161 As darkness fell, lights came on around the city. Standing on the small deck I looked to the left, away from the valley and toward the hill that the city sits on. A bright light shined on a small chapel, Chapelle of Saint Anne, the yellow light making the rose colored stucco stand out against the blue-black sky, the roof and cross just visible above the tops of the city and houses; poised as if watching over the city below.

At 7.00am the next morning I climbed the winding narrow streets in the dark, occasionally illuminated by a random light, my passing recognized only by a startled dog behind a fence and a hedge. The light was still on at the chapel, illuminating the gate and stairs leading through an ancient gate to the cemetery, weather worn stones testifying to the age and lives spent on these hills.

I sat on the low stone wall at the entrance to the chapel and read the Morning Office. Colors gradually appeared on the distant hills as darkness gave way to the dawn. By the time I finished the Gospel reading it was light enough to call it day. To the right of the chapel, an olive orchard reveled itself in the dawn, I had a sense that I had been praying in Getthsemine

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