Uzès, a gem in the Gard

Uzès © T.Joly
Still rich in old medieval neighbourhoods and Renaissance and Baroque private mansions, Uzès is one of the most beautiful towns in France. Thanks to the mild climate in the South of France, it’s pleasant to stroll in its narrow streets whatever the season and discover monuments and craftsmen.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
-By road
705 km on autoroutes A6, A7 and A9, exit n°23 Rémoulins, then D 981 till Uzés
- By Train
TGV Paris Gare de Lyon – Avignon and Paris Gare de Lyon – Nimes then bus STD Gard to Uzés.
Bus timetable on
- Hotels
Hostellerie Provencale
Hôtel du Général d’Entraigues
Le Château d’Arpaillargues, in Arpaillangues (4 km)
- Bed and Breakfast
Au Quinze
La Maison de la Bourgade
La Maison des Arts
- Surroundings
Manoir des sources
Domaine de Marsault
Le Bec à vin
Les Jardins de Castille
Les Trois Salons
L’Ancienne Gare
La Parenthèse
Uzès Tourist Office
Tel : 0466226888
Our nights are more beautiful than your days”. So declared the famous French writer Jean Racine when he described his 1661 – 1662 stay in Uzès to his Parisian friends. Hard to find a better way to praise this southern city located near Avignon and Nîmes. Well deserved praise when you see its historical centre which has kept its 17th and 18th century appearance, when silk and brocade spinning brought wealth to the town. It was at this time that private mansions in the Renaissance and Baroque style popped up in the middle of the medieval maze of streets and buildings.

Uzès © T.Joly
 In another era
Perfectly restored, these beautiful houses with their ochre façades are crawling with architectural details to entice the eye. Monumental portals, wrought iron balconies, peristyles, pediments, door-knockers in the shape of animals or humans,… When silence reigns it’s easy to imagine oneself in another era.
However, Uzès is not stuck in the past. The streets are filled with artisanal workshops. Potters, ceramicists, jewellers, furniture makers or others, whose creations incite you to buy or at least to indulge in a spot of window shopping. Moreover, as everywhere in the Midi, the inhabitants like to gather in the open air, beneath the protecting shade of the plane trees or on a café terrace. Mainly on Place aux Herbes, the heart of the city. An esplanade fringed with arcades, shops, bars and restaurants where a colourful market is held all day Saturday and Wednesday morning. The square also hosts truffle days in January as well as garlic and wine fairs in June and August.

Tour Fenestrelle © T.Joly
 Music Festival
But the most popular event in Uzès is the Votive feast, early August, with equestrian and bull shows, balls, fun fair, etc… A renowned ancient music festival takes place in July with concerts in historical buildings like the Cathedral of Saint Théodorit. Mostly from the 17th century it is characterized by a beautiful organ enclosed by painted wooden shutters and an odd circular shaped bell tower with five storeys of gemel windows. Dating back to the Romanesque period and unique in France, it is known as the Tour Fenestrelle and is the city’s symbol. Having said that, there are many other interesting religious buildings to be seen along the streets, including a Protestant temple since Uzès has for a long time been a stronghold of Protestantism in France. To help you find your way around and to learn all about this historical heritage, the tourism office now offers self-guided MP3 audio tours with French, English and German commentaries.

Place aux Herbes © T.Joly
 Huge fortress
This 1 h 30 tour also shows you the city’s second unmissable landmark, the Duché, a huge feudal compound whose name calls to mind the fact that Uzés is the First Duchy of France. An honorary distinction which is not due to the fact that it’s the oldest but to an order of precedence established in 1632 by King Charles IX. Never stormed and owned for centuries by the Crussol family, this fortress preserves a medieval appearance even if more recent architectural elements were added later on. For instance the façade of the living quarters is in the Renaissance style, as is the main staircase, while most of the furniture is Louis XIII and Louis XV. The tallest part of the compound, Belmonde Tower is an 11th century keep whose summit, reached by a 135 step staircase, offers a magnificent view.

Uzès © T.Joly
 Pink tiled roofs
Below spreads a sea of pink tiled roofs spotted with sun burned terraces only interrupted by medieval towers and churches surging towards the sky. With, as a background, the garrigue, dried up in the summer but glowing with the white flowers of almond trees in February. An invitation to follow one of the walking or VTT paths crisscrossing this typical southern landscape and passing by Roman ruins, old shepherds’ huts, windmills and other witnesses of times gone by. Unless one prefers to stroll quietly around Uzés’ streets or to sit on a cafe terrace and enjoy the charm and architectural harmony of the old districts.

June 01, 2011
Thierry Joly 

[ For kids ]

Although they tend to be less passionate about history and architecture than their parents, kids always appreciate a visit to the Musée du Bonbon. Set in the Haribo factory, a bit outside of town, it tells them the story as well as the production secrets of these sweetened delights they love. It also teaches them to recognize the fruit flavours used in their composition. A visit punctuated with a treasure hunt and interactive tools and which ends with a tasting and, for those who want to, a visit to the store.
Admission fees.
Adults : €7, Children 5 to 15 years old : €5, open every day except Monday from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 6pm.
Information : 0466227439