Centuries old and completely restored, Uzès (pop. 9,000 - up to 20,000 during the summer) has retained an architectural heritage that spreads over a landscape dotted with villages and planted with fruit trees, vines and truffle oaks. It is a jewel of a town with one of the best open-air markets in all of Provence, a bit of a time capsule with lofty towers and narrow streets.
There’s a touch of Saint-Rémy de Provence about Uzès, with Latin grace and perhaps an extra touch of intimacy and authenticity: the samecircular boulevard, the same bubbling fountains, and the same unbridled heritage. A walk round Uzès begins with a circuit of the old center, with its pedestrian streets, trendy shops and architectural treasures, such as the Château des Ducs d’Uzès, a private property open to visitors (owned by De Crussol d’Uzès family who have been living there for more than 1,000 years), the Saint-Théodorit cathedral and the Fenestrelle Tower, with its similarities to the Tower of Pisa, the magnificent private mansions that were homes to the Baron de Castille and Chambon de la Tour, and also the Place aux Herbes, the town’s epicenter, with its lovely arcades and café terraces, where the weekly market that takes place.
The city center is listed as a protected historical sector (the largest in France). The very powerful Ducs d’Uzès were the first dukes of France and the town was the seat of a diocese until the Revolution and marked by the Wars of Religion, but it was little affected (if at all) by the Industrial Revolution. It has since preserved its glorious heritage. The count of Crussol was made duke in 1565, and raised peer of France in 1572. The privileges as « first duke » went to the Family of Uzès in 1632 when the duke of Montmorency was beheaded for taking up arms against the king. The duke of Uzès spoke the ritual words « The King is dead. Long Live the King » on the opened king’s tomb.