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Place Albert & Tourism Office

A good place to start is Place Albert which has a fountain and some lively outdoor cafés as well as the Tourism office which has helpful information including a good map with a self guided walking tour in English, French and German of the main points of interest. The office itself is in the former chapel of the Capucin Friars, built in 1635 and the burial place for the Dukes of Uzès until 1789.

So grab some information and sit down for a coffee at one of the cafés and decide where to head first!

Walking down the pedestrianised street opposite the Place – Rue Jacques d’Uzès – past the Quincaillerie or small hardware store, Rue Duché leads to the Place Duché and of course the palace of the Duke of Uzès known as Le Duché. Apparently built on the site of a Roman fortress it has had a  mixture of architectural elements added over the years and has been used as a school and was occupied by the Germans during World War II.

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View of Uzès from Ducal Tower

Tours of the palace to see the salons, chapel, wine cellar and a climb up to the top of the Bermond Tower (not for the unfit or more generously proportioned as many steps and very narrow in parts!) are rewarding. Views across the town and outskirts from the top of the tower are fantastic on a clear day.

Originally Uzès had 2 castles but only the tower of the 2nd still remains and is part of the Mediaeval Garden (Jardin).

 

Heading back to Rue Jacques continue to where it ends in another Place –  Place Dampmartin this time and several restaurants, cafés and bars are found underneath the elegant architecture from the 17th century.

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Place aux Herbes Market day

Just around the corner is the lovely centre of Uzés – the Place aux Herbes with its plane trees and fountain and arched arcades. Wednesday morning is farmer’s market day but Saturday is the main market day with an amazing array of Provençal food, fabrics, pottery, jewellery, clothes, plants and a multitude of other stalls. Best to go early to avoid the crush in the warmer months!

When the place is not being used for the market there are a number of excellent cafés and restaurants with outdoor dining and people watching opportunities, often with free entertainment from buskers. The Truffle Maison on the corner is popular with those wanting to sample the various products containing locally grown truffles.

 

From the Place aux Herbes walk along the Rue du 4 Septembre past Place Austerlitz and along Rue Port Royal until reach the Mediaeval Garden. Only open between April and November, it has plantings representing the sorts of plants and the type of layout which was perhaps typical in the Middle Ages. It is between the ramparts of what is left of the 2nd castle of which only a tower remains and the present castle or Le Duché.

Continuing up the Rue Port Royal which becomes Rue du Docteur Blanchard and going right to the end of this at no. 18,  there is the baroque style  façade of the La Maison D’Uzès which was formerly the L ‘Hôtel Chambon de la Tour. It is worth going for a special lunch or dinner at this newly restored hotel restaurant as there is a magnificent vaulted passageway, stone staircase and delightful courtyard which are very much hidden away. The food menu is always interesting and the friendly chef, Oscar Garcia, presents beautiful modern French food which is excellent value for money. (See Food and Wine section for more details).

Turning right down Rue Rafin  you eventually come to the Place de l’Évêché  and the imposing columns of the Hôtel du Baron de Castille which was built by the Baron in the 18th century and is now occupied by a real estate agent. Across the busy street of the ring road through the town and behind a high wall is a palace which housed the bishops of Uzès as it was a Bishopric until the French Revolution when Nîmes took over. It is now a combination of a barracks, court of law and museum  displaying ceramics and the works of Charles and André Gide who both lived in Uzès and nearby Lussan amongst other collections.

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Fenestrelle Tower

Next door is the St. Theodore’s cathedral and the Fénestrelle Tower. The original cathedral built in 1090 was destroyed in the war against the Albigensians and after being rebuilt it was later destroyed again in the Religion Wars by the Protestants. This present cathedral dates from 1652 and is quite attractive with its ribbed vaults and grand organ although much was taken and destroyed during the French Revolution.

Part of its appeal is the lovely Fenestrelle or “Window” Tower which is the only part of the Romanesque Cathedral bell tower remaining from the 12th century. It reminds me a bit of Italy and of course the leaning tower of Pisa but is not open to the public.

Follow the line of traffic past the museum along Rue St. Julien and past the corner where there are signs to both  the town centre and to St Quentin La Poterie or Bagnols sur Ceze.

The continuation is Avenue Maxime Pascal which heads towards St Quentin and there is a large stone arch on the right. Through this a public swimming pool and tennis courts and parklands can be glimpsed.

Remains of Roman Aqueduct

Follow the footpath and cross the stream of the River Alzon in the tree lined picnic area. Look for signs along the yellow path to the remains of the 1st century Roman aqueduct which linked water from the source of the Eure to Nîmes 25 kilometres away, via the famous world heritage Pont du Gard aqueduct only 15 minutes away by car.

The spring source is bubbling away as in Roman times and still provides the town  of Uzès with water but is quite a walk from the swimming pool and aqueduct remains and is  more easily accessed by a short car trip on the way to St. Quentin. However, it is a lovely  walk and perfect for taking a picnic that you may have bought at the market if you prefer the exercise!

 

Picnic area by River Alzon

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