Uzès is the South of France without the beach or bling, a hidden town preserved in white stone. Although the Eurostar routes pass by less than an hour’s drive away – at Avignon and Montpellier – that short journey has been enough to keep Uzès off our radar.
Every building in Uzès is made of the same pale and porous limestone. With its rough cuttlefish walls and creamy smooth pavements.And here, as in that white city, the whole of the old town is effectively a car-free zone. You walk everywhere because you have to, but it also happens to be so easy, and so enjoyable. And wherever you go in this pedestrian space, wherever you sit down for a coffee or a glass of rosé, you hear the lilting hom-di-hom of French conversation. Uzès is a town where people live and work, where the market is for locals – not just for summer tourists.
Uzès is a historic town and also, a chic and upmarket spot. Two very different buildings characterise the town. One is the fenestrelle, a bell tower consisting of a series of cylinders pierced with narrow windows, rather like Pisa’s campanile but without its skewy attitude. The other dominant landmark is Le Duché, the duke’s residence. Nevertheless, Le Gard’s most impressive attraction is a 15-minute drive from Uzès. And however, there is a wonderful medieval garden, a modern recreation situated in the walled precincts of a 12th-century ruin.
There is plenty to do in Uzès and there are lots of street food to have. The aromas are incredibly appetising. In addition, make sure that you are in Uzès on a market day. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the Place aux Herbes is a tight maze of stalls selling all manner of bread, sausage, fish, hunting knives, olives, flowers and leather purses. Moreover, there is bewildering variations on single food themes: most of the cheeses were plain, chalky white; others were adorned with lavender petals or spiky herbs or red peppercorns.