| 2 min read
"Oh little town of Uzès! If you were in Umbria, Parisians would be visiting you in herds!” - André Gide, Unless the Seed Dies.
Perched on the crest of a small mountain in the Gard département is an old little village that goes by the name Uzès. It is one of the best preserved and most meticulously renovated towns in the South of France. It lies at the source of the Fontaine d’Eure and is the starting point of the Roman aqueduct that supplied water to Nîmes.
This village, settled over one thousand years ago, has a vibrant, ancient history. During Roman Times it was an important commercial and cultural center. It was also home to the first duchy of France and it remained thereby the oldest ducal peerage in France. Nowadays the family still lives in the ducal castle.
Particularly nice about Uzès is that it's a small, unpretentious town not yet denuded of its authenticity by the summer visitors. It isn't overrun with tour buses full of tourists, yet there's life year-round. Get lost in the narrow, cobbled streets lined with medieval houses and you'll understand. The people in the streets are mainly locals having a stroll, doing their shopping, chatting with a neighbour... with of course the inevitable occasional tourist here and there too.
Eventually you'll end up on the central square Place-aux-Herbes, the heart of the city. It is a cobbled square surrounded on three sides by stone arches that offer shade to the patios of shops and restaurants. In the middle stands a large, stone fountain. It is the place to gather, meet friends and have a drink on one of the many outdoor terraces.
Try to visit on a Wednesday or a Saturday for the marché provencal by the arches. The Saturday market is the largest, stalls will spread beyond the plaza into the small streets around. Start out early in the morning (before 10 am) to be there before the crowds arrive. You'll find French produce like cheese, garlic, wine, flowers, lavender, olive oil, honey, soaps... but also clothing, shoes, jewelry and more. Musicians will be present too.
Be sure not to miss Uzès' most famous landmark, the iconic Tour de Fenestrelle. It would be difficult, though, to look over the local equivalent of Pisa's Leaning Tower that is also referred to as the 'Window tower' because of its unique paired windows. The building next to it is the Saint-Théodorit Cathedral.
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