Head off the well-trodden Provence tourist trail to medieval town Uzès in neighbouring region Gard. This a sun-drenched patch of fertile Languedoc land features the distinctive stark Mediterranean landscapes and is known for its wine, produce, textiles and ceramics. Each May the Féria (French bull-fighting) festival takes place not far from nearby Arles.
Uzès is around 25km from Nîmes, an ancient Gallo-Roman village still home to the line of local dukes, whose Chateau is one of the most famous sights of the town, along with the Tour Fenestrelle (Window Tower) which dates from the 11th century. During the time of the monarchy, the dukes of Uzès had the important role of announcing the king’s death and defending the Queen Mother. The stunning Pont du Gard, a UNESCO listed Roman aquaduct that crosses the Gardon river, is also worth a visit. For little (or big) kids the Musée du Bonbon is a colourful treat by France’s beloved sweet brand Haribo.
The celebrated local open air market, held on Saturday mornings at the Place aux Herbes, is the place to pick up not only the best local Southern produce – from locally produced chevre, olives and olive oil, truffles and the freshest fruits and vegetables – but also the wonderful linen that the region is known for. Blankets, tablecloths and napkins are the perfect accessories for a table laden with seasonal treats. Uzès is also known for its pottery and ceramics, in particular stone urns. Christophe Pichon has a range of chic creations at his studio, established in 1802.
Vineyards and wineries are also scattered throughout the region, including many young producers making biodynamic and natural wines. Taste some at local restaurants or caves and do some research to find out who might have cellar doors open during your visit.
The abundant orchards and farms in Gard make dining out one of the best parts of any trip.
For a taste of local life head to the Bar du Marche, 6km from the town centre in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie – an authentic, cheap and cheerful spot with tasty meals and a relaxed atmosphere.
For a more gastronomic sensibility, Terroirs-Uzès, located right on the central square where the market is situated, is run by Belgian/Swedish Tom Graisse, and also carries a range of artisanal products in the adjacent épicerie. The large terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy some caviar d’aubergine and a glass of local white wine. Other good options are the restaurant at hotel La Maison d’Uzès, La Galinette in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume or Le Comptoir du 7.
if you’re travelling with a group, Mas de Marechal is a beautifully restored 5 bedroom farmhouse and barn (with 5 bathrooms!), with swimming pool that will cater for all your needs. Situated just out of Uzès in the charming village of Vers-Pont-du-Gard, it’s close to the bridge and surrounded by lovely countryside, a short drive or ramble to the local attractions. Vivienne and her staff are very knowledgable about the local area and can arrange private chefs, babysitters, cleaning and even someone to stock your fridge with local delicacies before arrival!
5 Place aux Herbes, Uzès
Ph: 04 66 03 41 90
Bar du Marché
Rue du Docteur Blanchard, St-Quentin-La-Poterie
Ph: 04 66 22 12 32
Chemin des Ferigoullieres, Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume
Le Comptoir du 7
7 Boulevard Charles Gide, Uzès
+33 4 66 22 11 54
La Maison d’Uzès
Rue Dr. Blanchard, Uzès
Ph. 04 66 20 07 00
Mas du Marechal
Ph. +27 12 347 8766