Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A Visit to Uzès is a Great Idea After a Visit to Nearby Pont du Gard

Loyal readers who follow my musings about Provence know that visits to the Pont du Gard are a regular part of our annual visits to the South of France. However, after you have walked out to the Roman acqueduct and walked across the bridge and hiked to the top of the hill on the other side to marvel at its beauty, the question inevitably arises about what are we going to do for the rest of our day. Visits to the Pont du Gard do not require a full day unless you are going to paddle a kayak down the Gardon river which by the way is great fun.

Many times, we head to nearby Uzès, a short 15 minute drive. Uzès is a well-preserved medieval town in the Gard department set on a promontory above the Alzon River. The old town is encircled by boulevards shaded by plane trees that have replaced the medieval defensive walls. Inside, there is a maze of small streets and shaded squares lined with beautiful old houses and mansions from the 17th and 18th century.

Cobblestone street to center of Uzès with Bermonde Tower in background

In the mid-16th century, many citizens of Uzès were Calvinist and the town was the 5th largest Protestant town in the kingdom. Religious wars resulted in the destruction of all the churches and of the temple that Uzès had at the time. In 1685, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes caused many to leave for Protestant countries in Europe, or their colonies.

Clock and belfry on top of the St-Etienne church tower

Starting in the 15th century, Uzès produced woolen, twill and cloth, then stockings and finally silk, until a mulberry tree disease deprived the town of its textile industry, which provided employment for 2000 people. This decline took the town with it, despite the development of the pottery industry and the licorice factory at the end of the 19th century.

Clock and belfry on top of the St-Etienne church tower

In the 20th century, Uzès gained a new lease on life when its town center was classified as a “protected zone” in January 1965. Ever since, Uzès has been upgrading and improving the town: roads have been paved, electricity cables hidden, facades renovated and the “protected zone” has been enlarged from 29 acres in 1965 to 101 acres today.
Pretty Uzès Shop

The Duché is the defensive feudal castle standing in the center of Uzès old town. Uzès is the "First Duchy of France", France's oldest and most-important ducal peerage. Uzès was made a Duché 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.

Bermonde Tower (castle keep)

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. 

The Fenestrelle Tower avoided destruction in 1621 and is the only part of the cathedral which survives from the Medieval structure. The tower is built in the style of the Medieval Italian Lombard towers, and is the unique example in France of a round clock tower.

Saint-Théodorit Cathedral and Fenestrelle Tower

Uzès passageway to Place aux Herbes

Saturday morning, a huge traditional Provençal market fills the Place aux Herbes to overflowing with fruits, vegetables and flowers, but also jams and honey, ceramics and linens, pots and pans, clothes and shoes. There’s another, smaller version on Wednesday mornings too. 

The square itself, large and asymmetrical, is planted with plane trees around its central fountain and surrounded by medieval houses transformed in the 17th and 18th centuries, perched above stone arcades housing shops, restaurants and cafés.

Place aux Herbes

If you are looking for a place to have a tasty meal after the market, we really like Les Terroirs which is located off of Place aux Herbes.
Les Terroirs - 5 Place aux Herbes


  1. Thank you for your excellent piece on my beautiful home. I’ve been here 3 years and continue to marvel at how lucky I am

  2. We truly enjoy Uzès. We actually looked at homes in that area when we were house hunting before we bought in Sablet. We think the Saturday market is one of the most authentic and best markets in the South of France. We look forward to returning in the not too distant future we hope. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post.