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A Year in Uzès - A Beautiful Town for Every Season
Uzès – a medieval market town in the sunny South of France with something to offer travellers in every season. I was fortunate to own a holiday home here for over 22 years, so I know the town very well.
If you are looking for a convenient place to base yourself for a holiday in the South of France, then Uzès – la belle ville – makes the perfect choice. Read on for insider tips on visiting Uzès and its surrounding area all year round.
Uzès - Good to Know Before You Go
Sandwiched between the wilderness of the Cevennes and the Mediterranean Coast, Uzès is part of the Gard départment in the Langeudoc region of Southern France. Languedoc is much less touristy than its next-door neighbour Provence which means you get the sunshine, gastronomy and glorious vineyards that France is known for all around the world – without the crowds. If the seaside is a “must have” on your holiday wish list, it is also only an hour or so from the coast.
Uzès - A Market Town
First and foremost, Uzès is a proud market town with one of the largest traditional French markets in the region held here every Saturday. If you visit on a Saturday, you will need to park outside the town which will be at its busiest even on low season, such is the popularity of the marvellous market.
There is also a market on Wednesdays, but on a very much smaller scale than the Saturday extravaganza. Sundays and Mondays are quiet days in the town as a result, allowing a period of calm before the new week begins again. Many shops and restaurants are closed on Sundays and Mondays, especially out of high season.
Uzès - Gastronomic Capital of the Gard
As a market town, Uzès has all the usual food shops as well as some really interesting specialist shops specialising in brandade, truffles and cheese. The narrow paved streets have several tempting patisseries (confectioners) and chocolatiers too.
Look out for the delicious chocolate olives (chocolate covered almonds that look just like olives!) in the La Cure Gourmand. In the Summer months, ice cream shops compete to offer the widest array of flavours – and the most elaborate ice cream dessert confectionery. Just a little outside of town in the Mayac Quarter, you can also find Anthony – artisanal Uzétien macarons maker extraordinaire.
Uzès and its environs offer so many attractions and things to do. You can see month by month the variety that on offer in the next section.
Sometimes though, the best thing you can do is just pause for a quiet moment or two? Make your way to La Place aux Herbes in the centre of the town, buy yourself a cup of coffee – or maybe a glass of kir (white wine and blackcurrant (cassis) liqueur) and just watch the world go by. Let the “things to do lists” wait for a few days and just soak in the atmosphere here – you may well find that you are happy to venture no further because Uzès is a great place just to be.
Just a few steps away from the Place aux Herbes, a great place too hang out for a while is always the coffee shop/bar Au Suisse d’Alger – a great favourite with locals.
Uzès - Best Restaurants
As befits a town known as the gastronomic capital of the Gard, Uzès has a wide range of restaurants catering for all tastes from the Michelin starred Maison d’Uzes to the every popular locals’ haunt – La Pizza du Duchy – and everything in between.
Restaurants are always a personal choice, but my stand out favourites over 22 years of holidaying here are Le 80 Jours (reservations on 04 66 22 09 89) and Le Comptoir du 7. Restaurants have come and gone over the years – as they do in all towns – but these two have stood the test of time and never fail to please. These are popular restaurants – reservations are always required.
Uzès - A Historic Town
Uzès is rightly proud of its historical heritage. In the 5th century, Uzès was a powerful bishopric – one of the most important in Languedoc. In 1632, Uzès became the 1st Dukedom of France and today it’s French “Duché” still stands proud in the heart of the town.
Visit the Tourist Information Office to find out more about guided tours available all year round. If you don’t want to join a tour, then the town is easy to visit self guided using the Tourist Office free map. Don’t miss seeing the beautiful organ in the Cathédrale Saint-Théodorit or the Medieval Garden!
Uzès - City of Art
A designated city of Art, Uzès has several art galleries and visiting art exhibitions. There are artisan jewellers in town too. It also has its own little cinema – Le Capitole – with a selection of films on offer – some in the VO (original version – including English) with subtitles.
A Year in Uzès - Tips for Visiting Every Month of the Year
Peak season for Uzès is between the middle of July and the middle of August. It is as though Uzètiens spend Spring time preparing for Summer, Autumn recovering from it and Winter dreaming of its return.
If you visit in peak season, you have to expect the town’s population to be swelled by tourists. Restaurants will all need to be reserved in advance. It is also hot at this time of year – up to 34 degrees is not unusual.
Summers are short and vibrant here. In contrast, Spring and Autumn are long and languorous seasons and – in my view – when this lovely town is at its very best. The weather is warm and usually dry. Rain does fall – keeping the countryside green rather than the arid landscapes of countries further South – but showers are usually quickly over and done with.
December, January and February can be cold and, of course, the Winter days are short too. Despite the dip in temperatures, frost is very rare and most locals have never seen any snow here. Uzès in Winter still has much to offer the discerning tourist – a world away from the hustle and bustle of Summer and all the more charming as a result.
January in Uzès is all about truffles. The third week-end of January is devoted to paying homage to the unusual gastronomic delicacy le diamant noir (the black diamond) truffle that is widely cultivated in this region.
Fête de la Truffe - Truffle Festival - Uzès
Throughout the third week-end of January during the annual Fête de la Truffe , the town’s restaurants compete to provide the very best quality gastronomic truffle tasting experience. Sunday sees the town’s truffle officinados congregate in la Place aux Herbes to bless the noble truffle and share recipes to enjoy its unique flavour. You can amuse yourself by watching dogs search for truffles in a huge (imported) sandpit in the centre of town.
Or – join the crowd under the dimly lit arches of the market square to buy your own truffle – carefully weighed in front of you and solicitously wrapped. Tune into the contented murmur of at the large gathering of French gastronomes fully immersed in their search for the best value truffle their euros can buy.
This is an authentic, one of a kind memorable experience – a world away from something fabricated for tourists.
For those who are romantic at heart, Uzès is hard to beat for a special Valentine’s Day dinner. Restaurants make a special effort to show the love – who can resist – despite the elevated prices?
The weather can be wet at this time of year and the temperatures have yet to reach warm Spring levels, so March is perhaps a good time to take a drive and explore some of the fascinating towns surrounding Uzès. Nimes, Avignon, Orange, Arles and Vaison la Romaine are all easily reachable for a day trip and have a plethora of Roman remains and museums to visit. They will be much quieter at this time of year too. If art is your thing, be sure to visit the Vincent Van Gogh Museum at Arles.
Or – take a trip to the nearby Roquefort caves (2 hours 25 minutes drive from Uzès) and discover how this world famous delicious appellation contrôlée blue cheese is made.
If ancient history is your passion, then the archeological site of Glanum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence (1 hour from Uzès) is sure to please.
April’s warmth signals the beginning of the long Uzès Spring. Shop windows are filled with sumptuous hand decorated Easter eggs, the market’s panniers hold the first fresh flowers of the year and fat white asparagus spears – just coming into their short and glorious season – are stacked in neat rows on the market stalls.
Pont du Gard
April is a lovely time to visit the nearby UNESCO world heritage site of the Pont du Gard. The Pont du Gard – the highest ancient bridge in the world – spans the Gardon river. The Romans built the 49 kilometre long aqueduct to carry water from its source in Uzès and carry it all the way to Nimes.
The site is open all year round, but can get busy in peak season. Visiting in April after the Winter rains will give you the best chance of a full, fast flowing river – perfect for hiring a kayak and spending the day exploring the river and canoeing right under the Pont du Gard.
Park at Collias and hire canoes at Canoe Le Tourbillon or Kayak Vert Pack a picnic and spend the day on the river safe in the knowledge that you will be picked up and reunited with your car at the end of your excursion.
Within just an hour and a half’s drive from Uzès, you can be dipping your toes in the Mediterranean Sea. Early May is a nice time to do it – not too hot. not too crowded and fewer of the mosquitos that can be a nuisance here during the heat of Summer.
The Camargue region that borders the coastline is famous for its flamingoes, bulls and white horses. The long sandy beaches of Plage le Petit Travers and Espiguette attract the crowds at week-ends and in the Summer months, but earlier in the year, they are lovely for walking, safe swimming and sunbathing. The seaside towns of la Grande Motte and le Grau de Roi offer plenty of options for refreshments.
Ornithological Park - Pont du Gau - Les Saintes de la Mer
Whilst you are exploring the coastline, it is really worth calling into the Ornithological Park at Pont de Gau. Although the Park is open all year round, March to May is when many of the birds migrate from south to north to nest, so viewing opportunities are at their best.
Located about 1 hour 45 minutes from Uzès, the Cevennes National Park is a little visited wilderness area that invites exploration. Come in late May/early June to see it a its prettiest and best – clothed in wildflowers and cool enough for a long hike with the sun warming your shoulders but not hot enough to give you sunstroke.
Life in the Cevennes is simple – just as it has been for thousands of years. Olive groves, vineyards, goats and cattle all thrive in this harsh garrigue landscape, home to those skilled at making their living from the land. In the 18th century, mulberry trees were planted and the breeding of silkworms commenced bringing an era of prosperity to the area. The Musée de la Soie in Saint Hippolyte du Fort – open March to December (closed on Mondays) tells the history in a very entertaining way.
Still looking for things to do? Take a trip on the Cévennes Steam Railway – regular departures from Anduze – Saint-Jean-du-Gard.
Uzès Dance Festival
For 5 days in early June, Uzès holds its annual Dance Festival. It adds quite a spice to your evening apéros when the brightly coloured dancers twirl on by.
Uzès Photo Festival
Towards the end of June, there is usually a Photography Festival running in Uzès. You can see photographs exhibited all through the town and attend a wide variety of events illuminating the fascinating art of photography.
Although Uzès is a town for all seasons, Summer is when it is at its most vibrant and Summer really gets into swing in mid July.
Bright yellow sunflowers fill the fields, the vines are laden with heavy bunches of ripening grapes and roadside stalls are piled high with cherries. apricots and strawberries.
Les Nuits Musicales Uzès - Musical Evenings
The last two weeks of July are reserved for the annual Music Festival. Concerts and music are a part of everyday life in Uzès, but the annual music festival is something special. Tickets sell out quickly for the most popular acts. If you don’t manage to buy yours in time, don’t worry too much because the echoes of piano, violin or choral song often reach your table if you are dining outside. If you do buy a ticket though, look forward to enjoying the intimate experience of an open air concert in the company of fellow music lovers.
Les Mardis Nocturnes - Tuesday Night Markets
Tuesday nights have a special ambience in Uzès as night markets with many local artisans and producers fill the Place du Duché. Music fills the air and you can even learn to dance the tango as you shop, if you feel so inclined.
Le Haras d'Uzès - Horse Stud
Saint Quentin la Poterie
Located just a short 15 minute drive from Uzès is Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie – known since the Middle Ages for the production of pottery thanks to its clayey soil. Back in the 19th century, 80 pottery workshops could be found in this tiny village. 20 workshops remain today, giving the village the title of “Ville et Metiers d’Art”. The Museum opens Wednesday to Sunday between February and October – check opening times out of peak season. July is a lovely time to visit Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie as they hold an annual Terralha pottery exhibition in the middle of the month. Check the village website for up to date events.
Lavender Museum - Luberon
Around an hour and a half drive from Uzès, you can find the fascinating Musée de la Lavande at Luberon. Although you can visit this museum and learn everything you could possibly ever want to know about the long tradition of cultivating lavender in this region, it is surely best to go when you can drive past fields packed with neat mounds of purple lavender plants and enjoy their heady scent en route?
The Tour de France
The Tour de France, which usually runs during the first 3 weeks of July, often passes right through Uzès and is fun to watch if you can time your visit to coincide with it?
The party continues well into August and it isn’t until towards the last week of the month that the town begins to slowly quieten down.
La Fête Votive - August Festival
For 4 days n the first week of August – usually between the 4th and the 7th (check the Town Website for precise dates) – Uzès goes barmy! Metal railings are erected all down the main streets so bull running can take place. Horses take the place of cars and music fills the air until late into the night. A fun fair is set up at the end of town and everyone lets their hair down and joins the party. It has a Spanish air about it – bulls are very much a part of it and you can even watch bulls taking a dip in the pool at the Arénes Jean Clement! Flamenco dancers are often part of the entertainment too. Restaurants spill out onto the pavements even more than usual and moules et frites (mussels and chips) take the place of higher standards of French gastronomy for these few days.
La Foire aux Vins - Wine Festival
Usually held in the second week of August, the 3 day Wine Festival – La Foire aux Vins – is an annual tradition in Uzès. Not even Covid managed to stop it happening! Over 50 proud local vigneron occupy the rows of white tents erected along the full length of the Esplanade so you can enjoy sampling their wares in the shade. Checkout Ville d’Uzes for more information.
Uzès is at the heart of the Côte du Rhône wine growing area known for the Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes that make the famous ‘big reds’ you can enjoy in nearby Chateauneuf du Pape, Lirac, Gigondas and Vacqueyras. It’s not all about the red wine though – the rosé wine is equally delicious – maybe even more so in the heat of Summer when locals often quaff it with a cooling glaçon (ice cube) or two. Visit Tavel for the best rosé you can buy in this region. Looking for even more temptation? Also visit Beaumes de Venise and sample the heady sweetness of their famous Muscat dessert wine. Don’t forget to pack your corkscrew!
They take their wine very seriously in this region. You don’t have to wait until August to enjoy a wine tasting. A visit to the area isn’t complete without enjoying a wine tasting at one of the many local vignerons.
You can just turn up – no appointment needed – and they will be only too happy to take you on a tasting journey through their full carte de vins. Whether you swallow or spit is up to you. As you enjoy your guided dêgustation, you will probably see canny locals re-filling their large flacons from the huge vats at the back of the cave – a bit like filling a car with petrol – but so much more fun when you get it back home?!
Les Baux-de-Provence - Light & Sound Exhibitions
Les Baux de Provence – an hour’s drive from Uzès – is well worth a visit for the stunning son et lumière exhibitions regularly housed in the underground cave system. I include it in August because it is a lovely cool place to visit then when the heat of Summer can get a little oppressive at times. You can visit all year round though and may find it much quieter out of season. It’s best to book in advance – visit Carrières de Lumières. The exhibitions change every year – and during the year but are unfailingly absorbing – such a wonderful use of these former limestone quarries.
Once the Summer party is over and the children are all safely back behind their school desks, Uzès moves into the peaceful warm days of its long Autumn season.
Hot Air Balloon Flights over Uzès
Do you have taking a hot air balloon ride on your bucket list? If so, Uzès is a great place to tick it off. September is a lovely time of year to take flight with the all important weather conditions likely to be perfect to avoid disappointment. An early start will reward you with a unique perspective on Uzès and its environs. Book that long wished for flight at Les Montgolfières du Sud.
Mushrooms are a joy to shop for in October in Uzès. Forget the usual champignons de Paris that you can buy in any supermarket in the world. and search out instead chanterelles, girolles and ceps that entice you to get a little more experimental with your culinary endeavours.
Walking is also lovely in October without the heat of the Summer to slow you down and wear you out. There are many walking trails around Uzès and the Eure Valley – the Tourist Office is a reliable source for more information.
Looking for something to do in Uzès in the Winter? How about visiting the “Happy World of Haribo – Kids and Grown Ups Love it so”? The Haribo Sweet Factory is based at the Pont-des-Charettes in Uzès and has been making its candies since 1862. You can discover all the history at this entertaining little museum and stock up on sweet treats at the adjacent shop after your visit. If you visit in November, you can make an early start on your Christmas shopping?
Christmas is a magical season and – as you would expect – Uzès fully embraces it – but in a delightfully understated way so typical of this la belle ville. Shop windows look even prettier than usual, Christmas lights twinkle everywhere and the Christmas market fills la Place aux Herbes.
Food is still the central focus of the Christmas markets, but you can also meet Father Christmas and buy Provençale santons – small hand-painted figurines cast in terracotta clay and used to build nativity scenes. Look out for the typical 12 desserts of Christmas in the Boulanger/patisserie windows.
Looking for Options to Extend your Trip?
Having spent many years holidaying with Uzès as a base, I have taken several trips a little further afield which may be useful if you want to extend your trip a little. You can find out more on these posts:
Uzès - Where to Stay
If you are looking for a place to stay in Uzès, there are a variety of options: