Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Uzès, the First Duchy of France and one of the best markets in the South of France.

If you've been following "Our House in Provence" for a while, you know that cousins Jean Marc and Christine live near Montpellier and although it's 75 miles from Sablet, we are always looking for ways to meetup. So when Shirley's friends came to visit, we decided to combine a visit to Uzès with Sunday lunch with the cousins followed by a visit to the Pont du Gard.

Uzès is a beautiful historic town in the Gard (a part of Languedoc-Roussillon) with a history dating from Roman times. Uzès is surrounded by garrigue (low growing bushy plants including oak, juniper, broom and wild herbs such as rosemary and thyme) covered hills and valleys about 30 miles west of Avignon and less than 10 miles from the Roman Pont du Gard.

The Saint-Théodorit Cathedral seen below, was formerly a Catholic cathedral, but is now a parish church, named in honor of Saint Theodoritus. It was the seat of the Bishops of Uzès until the diocese was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and its territory passed to the Diocese of Avignon.

The cathedral was destroyed during the Albigensian Crusades, rebuilt, and destroyed again in the 16th century Wars of Religion and rebuilt again in the 17th century before it was gutted during the French Revolution. In the 19th century, a new west front was added.

Saint-Théodorit Cathedral and the Fenestrelle Tower

Adjacent to the cathedral is the 12th century Fenestrelle Tower which is the only part of the cathedral which survives from the medieval structure. This kind of round bell tower is unique in France; it rises 138 feet above a square base, its six storeys recede one above the other.

The interior of Saint-Théodorit Cathedral

Uzès is near the Eure springs which was the source of the water for the Roman aqueduct built in the first century BC, to supply water to the town of Nîmes, 25 kms away. The most famous stretch of the aqueduct is the Pont du Gard, which carried fresh water across the river Gardon.

A narrow street that leads to the center of Uzès

Please join me as I wander around the heart of Uzès old town

An Uzès street

An olive tree next to a wall of the Duchy castle

The center of Uzès old town is full of medieval streets for wandering and exploring.

A narrow cobblestone street in Uzès

The Duchy is the defensive feudal castle standing in the center of Uzès old town. The castle was never attacked or damaged and is in very good condition. Uzès is the "First Duchy of France", France's oldest and most-important ducal peerage. Uzès was made a Duchy in 1565. The current owner of the castle, Jacques de Crussol, is the 17th Duke of Uzès.

He grew up in the castle but these days, he actually lives in Paris but makes a point of coming to Uzès once a month, and spends most of the summer at the castle. Just like the Queen of England, his family’s flag flies over the castle when he is in residence.

The Duchy of Uzès

Part of the Duchy castle

Part of the Duchy castle

Tower of the Duchy castle

An Uzès street

Large fountain in Uzès

Uzès shop

A house decorated on the side with a turret near Place aux Herbes

Terrace café on the Place aux Herbes

Terrace café on the Place aux Herbes

The Uzès market is held all year long on Saturday mornings and Wednesday mornings on the Place aux Herbes in the old town. With its fountain, arcades and terrace cafés, it is a great place to shop and visit and pause for a café or leisurely terrace lunch. Parts of Cyrano de Bergerac starring Gerard Depardieu were shot here.

Place aux Herbes

Pretty window in Uzès

One of the arcades which line the Place aux Herbes

Unique door in Uzès

House of the truffle

Clock and belfry on top of the Saint-Etienne Church tower.

Saint-Étienne Church seen below, was built between 1763 and 1775 on the location of an ancient church that was destroyed during the Wars of Religion.

Saint-Étienne Church

Rectangular bell tower of Saint-Étienne Church

An Uzès restaurant

The 12th-century Bishop's tower was the seat of the bishop's temporal powers, used as a tribunal and prison. This tall, square tower is topped by an octagonal clock tower and belfry, added in the 19th century.

The Bishop's Tower

The Bermonde tower is the Duchy's keep, built in the 11th century by Bermond 1st. The corner watch towers were added during a restoration in the 15th century. You can visit the castle and climb to the top of the Bermonde Tower (135 steps) for a wonderful view of Uzès.

The Bermonde Tower at the Duchy

One of the museums in Uzès

Shirley with friends Liz and Jennifer

Uzès is special town for several reasons; first, the Uzès market on Saturday mornings is one of our favorites in the South of France and second, Uzès is where we sat and debated the pros and cons of various villages and houses with cousins Jean Marc and Christine in one of the cafés on Place aux Herbes. As you know, we chose Sablet and we are so glad we did.

Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.


  1. I still need to visit Uzes...hopefully this summer.

  2. As much as I love Uzes (and I do), I am also so happy you found your perfect place, Michel!

  3. I love it that I can rely on you guys to make sure I have plenty of things to do while I am happily staying in your house in Sablet.

  4. I like that castle. I'm still waiting for the French government to acknowledge that I am the Duchess of The LPV and to give me a castle. Fifty would look dapper in a crown ;)

  5. I'm so jealous, been wanting to go to Uzès for a very long time... your article will help with our trip planning, would love to squeeze in a spring trip for the crowds arrive! Thank you for your helpful tips!

  6. Congratulations for your report in Uzès. We fell in love with this beautiful town 15 years ago. In July 2013, we move to live there!

  7. Meredith - You need to go, especially on a Saturday. The market is wonderful.

    Heather - Thanks so much. We were sitting on our terrace with some of the villagers last night and loving life in Sablet. We are definitely blessed.

    Kathryn - Stay tuned, I have some more discoveries to add from this visit. We have had such a great time.

    Sara - You crack me up. Thanks for making me laugh.

    Tuula - You should try to go to Uzes, especially on Saturday since I know you love markets in Provence. The Pont du Gard is just a few minutes away and Nimes is not much further. You would have a very busy weekend.

    Jamin - Thanks for stopping in to visit my blog and for leaving a comment. How exciting. I am very happy to for you. Who knows, maybe we will run into each other when we are in Uzes. Good luck with your move.

  8. Unlike you, we didn't discover Uzes until after we had bought our apartment in Vaison. I wonder...

  9. Sullivans - We love Vaison but there is no doubt that Uzes has a very different feel to the town. We were sorely tempted.

  10. Bonjour Michel. I am seeing this a little late, but I enjoyed following you on a stroll through Uzes. When my family lived in Montpellier, we would visit often. I did not appreciate it enough back then (as a teenager.) Now, I would trade that corner of the world for my piece of American suburbia in a heartbeat :-) C'est la vie. Thank you for sharing your photos with us. My favorite was probably "L'Atelier des Ours." - So cute. All these stuffed teddy bears hanging above the shop window!

    By the way, I still have not properly accepted the Liebster Award you sent my way a few weeks ago, but I am planning to do so shortly. Merci encore!

    A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  11. The castle was restored by Margaret (Peggy) Bedford Bancroft d' Arenberg, then after dragging the Duke back fro Morocco married him and restored the castle with her Standard Oil oney. She was quite outre and none of the family liked her although they ceartainly liked her money. She died in a car crash some yers ago coming from a party at the Rothchilds. She left 2 childern one each by her first two husbands..Castle inside is sort of cold..

  12. Veronique - Yes, Uzes is not very far from Montpellier. We would be there often for the weekly market if we didn't have a great one in Vaison-la-Romaine.

    Anonymous - Thanks so much for coming to visit my blog and for leaving the additional information about the castle. I appreciate this very much.

  13. Looks like a beautiful village. LOVE les Oliviers :)

  14. Ah, Uzes. Yes, the morning markets are wonderful. We would not ever miss them. Uzes in the evening is magical. Lucky are we that we live in the area. Do not miss the Pont du Gard if you visit. We live in Vers Pont du Gard and follow the ancient aqueduct from our village to the Pont for our morning and evening walks. It is an absolutely amazing site. The area is so gorgeous you all must include it in your visit to France.

  15. labergerebasque - It is definitely a beautiful town and the market is one of the best.

    Cindy - Thanks for stopping in to visit my blog and leaving a comment. I appreciate that a lot. We make a visit to the Pont du Gard every time we have visitors. I would like to visit the quarry where they pulled the rocks to cut for the Pont du Gard but have not made it there yet.

  16. This is a complete review of the city! and very nice pictures! If somebody wants to visit Uzès, please contact us! Dom (my wife) and I manage a few appartments and houses in and around Uzès. See you there!