Attractions In Uzès, A Captivating Village in Southern France

“Oh little town of Uzes! If you were in Umbria, Parisians would be visiting you in herds!” — Andre Gide

Just west of Provence lies a storybook sunshine-y village, wrapped in golden hued limestone and perfect for flaneurs — Uzes.

I stopped in Uzès on my journey from Arles to Toulouse. We were delighted by the laid back little honeypot.

We felt like we landed in the “real” France, “France Profonde,” not just a tourist town denuded of its authenticity.

Officially, Uzès is not in Provence, but in Occitanie region, in the department of Gard.

But it looks and feels like Provence — with its pastel shutters, limestone facades, and cobbled lanes. It’s just a less crowded off radar gem, at least when it’s not market day.

Casually chic Uzès makes a perfect stop on your southern France road trip. Or it’s an easy day trip from from Arles, Montpellier, Nimes, or Avignon. Uzès was easily one of my favorite hidden gems towns in France.

You can visit Uzes on a guided day tour from Avignon.

a picture perfect cobblestone street, complete with pastel shutters and ivy
a picture perfect cobblestone street, complete with pastel shutters and ivy

History of Uzes

Uzès was originally an “oppidum,” a fortified town. It was the site of an ancient settlement dating back to the 2nd century BC.

Just to the north of Uzès , the Romans founded Ucetia, a “lost city” that was recently discovered in 2017. From the 13th century, Uzes was an important trading center — silk, linen, and licorice.

In 1565, the first Duke of Uzès was installed as a Duke and French peer. There’s still a duke of Uzès, Jacques de Crussol d’Uzes. When he’s in residence, the flag is raised, just as when Queen Elizabeth is at Windsor Castle.

In the 16th century, King Charles IX elevated his rank to that of 1st Duke of France. This meant that the Count of Crussol, the first Duke of Uzès, became the 2nd most important person in France.

In 1965, André Malraux, Minister of Culture under General de Gaulle classified Uzès as a City of Art and History.

a quiet cobbled lane in lovely Uzes
a quiet cobbled lane in lovely Uzes

Attractions In Uzès

Here’s what to see and do in Uzès.

1. Take A Stroll

The main activity in Uzès is just to stroll the charming tangled lanes in the old town pedestrian zone, at a leisurely pace.

Uzès is an architectural jewel made for walking. And so I walked aimlessly, admiring the old village steeped in history and so different than the United States.

the quaint courtyard of the restaurant Le Bec à Vin
the quaint courtyard of the restaurant Le Bec à Vin

2. Place aux Herbes: Uzès Vibrant Center

The Place aux Herbes is the main square of Uzès, a lovely central meeting place. It’s a broad square filled with plane trees, café tables, and flanked by a squat limestone colonnade.

Its vaulted arcades are filled with tony boutiques, artisan gelato shops, and trendy cafes.

We had a delicious lunch under the ribbed vaults of Ten, a fabulous restaurant that I highly recommend. Pop into Les Terroirs.

Inside it’s part restaurant (mostly sandwiches) and part posh market. The shelves are crammed with artisanal olive oils, terrines, and wines.

the Place aux Herbes in Uzes
the Place aux Herbes in Uzes
arcades surrounding the Place aux Herbes in Uzes
arcades surrounding the Place aux Herbes in Uzes

3. The Duke’s Castle

Uzès most dominant landmark is the medieval Duke’s Castle, called the Duchy.

It’s a walled structure smack in the middle of the town, complete with turrets, that serves as the Duke’s residence.

The dukes of Uzès have lived in the castle for over a thousand years. The present duke is #17. The castle serves as his summer home.

The castle’s a bit of an architectural mishmash with a 12th century tower, Gothic chapel, and Renaissance facade.

After the French Revolution, the castle was partly in ruins. Beginning in 1951, the Marchioness of Crussol set about restoring the Duchy. The present Duke and Duchess of Uzes continue to renovate.

the Duke's Castle, one of the top attractions in Uzes
the Duke’s Castle in Uzes
views from the tower of the Duke's Castle
views from the tower of the Duke’s Castle

Tucked behind the Duchy is a modern recreation of Uzès’ medieval gardens. From there, you can climb the King’s Tower (100 steps) for a panoramic view.

Your castle entry fee includes access to the viewpoint atop the donjon.

Legend hold that there was there a tunnel from the Duchy to Place Aux Herbes.

The Cathédrale Saint-Théodorit and its Italianate bell tower, La Fenestrelle
the Cathédrale Saint-Théodorit and its Italianate bell tower, La Fenestrelle

4. Uzès Cathedral & the Fenestrelle

Uzès Cathedral, known as the La Cathédrale Saint-Théodorit, was formerly the seat of the Bishops of Uzès, until the diocese was abolished.

The cathedral was rebuilt in the 17th century, after centuries of damage. The neo-Romanesque façade was added in 1873, after the French Revolution.

The cathedral has an ornate Romanesque bell tower, the Tour Fenestrelle, which is more interesting than the church. The Fenestrelle is essentially Uzès’ leaning tower of Pisa. It has a series of cylinders pierced with narrow windows, and is thus sometimes called the Window Tower.

It’s the only remaining original part of the church. And it’s the only round bell tower in France.

another view of the Cathédrale Saint-Théodorit and its Italianate bell tower, La Fenestrelle
another view of the cathedral and bell tower

5. Pont de Gard: A UNESCO Site Right Next Door to Uzès

Just 20 minutes away from Uzès stands the Pont du Gard, a surviving scrap of a Roman aqueduct that’s a UNESCO site.

The aqueduct originally took water from Uzès to Nimes. The aqueduct soars over the Gardon River and its dramatic gorge.

The aqueduct is massive. The bridge is 48.8 meters high, 275 meters long, and boasts 52 arches. Pont du Gard was the highest aqueduct in the Roman Empire.

In late June, the temperature had soared to the mid-90s. So after our visit, we dipped our feet in gate Gardon River to cool off. From here, you have a great perspective view of the aqueduct.

Click here to book a skip the line ticket to the Pont du Gard.

the Pont du Gard, a must visit attraction near Uzes
the Roman Aqueduct and UNESCO site, Pont du Gard

Practical Information For Visiting Uzès:

Getting There: The closest train service to/from Uzès is from Nimes and Avignon.

Tourist Office: Chapelle des Capucins, place Albert 1er BP 13129

Pro tip: Market days are Wednesday and Saturday.

Hotels: The best place to stay is the luxury boutique hotel, Maison d’Uzès

The Duke’s Castle:

  • Address: Place du Duche, 30700, Uzes
  • Hours: Daily 10:00 am – 12:00 pm & 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • Entry fee: 20 € — pretty steep, but the views from the tower are great.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the top attractions in Uzes. You may enjoy these other southern France travel guides:

If you’d like to visit Uzes, pin it for later.

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2 thoughts on “Attractions In Uzès, A Captivating Village in Southern France”

  1. Hi there! This is super helpful, I loved it! I’m curious as to how you found driving to all the smaller towns in the mountainous regions? Was it super scary? Thanks!

    • No, not at all. I didn’t have any trouble and I wouldn’t say it was really “mountainous.” Just park outside the historic center and walk in.


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