The places in All The Stars We Follow - Part 2
Today, I will talk about the central place in my book, Uzès, and its surrounding villages.
As you can see from the map, Uzès is rather small although like many places nowadays, it has its suburbs but my story takes place in the historical centre so within the boulevard that follows the old walls of the city.
As you can see from the map, Uzès is rather small although like many places nowadays, it has its suburbs but my story is mainly based in the historical centre so within the boulevard that goes around and follows the old walls of the city.
A little history
I won’t go tell the entire history of Uzès, except for a few of facts:
Like its bigger sister, Nîmes, Uzès was founded by the Romans around the 1st century BC. They settled here because the town lies at the source of the Alzon rivers, at Fontaine d’Eure, from where a Roman Aqueduct (Pont du Gard today) supply water to Nîmes 31 miles away.
Uzès is today the only Duchy in France. The title Duke of Uzès is the premier title in the peerage of France, coming after the princes of the blood. If France were still a kingdom, it would be the job of the duke of Uzès to cry out, “Le Roi est mort. Vive le roi!” There is still a Duke of Uzès today and he lives in the castle in the photo.
Besides the Duchy that you can visit, there are also the two towers, the Bishop Tower and the Royal Tower, I mention in the book (today the Medieval Garden where Léa takes Max on their first exploration of the city) which were the home of bishops (Uzès is only 25 miles west of Avignon where Popes in the 14th century settled before returning to Rome.
There is also the 11th century Romanesque Tour Fenestrelle (“Window Tower”), with its paired windows. It is probably the most famous icon of the city and, like the Tower of Pisa, is at a slight angle.
But what Uzès is maybe most famous for is its town centre, which was restored from the 1960s onwards. Today most of the historical centre is “secteur sauvegardé” which means it is protected from developers and measures have been taken to embellish it such as paved streets, not electric poles or lines (the reason why lighting at night is maybe not as bright as in other places…), restoration of the medieval houses, no cars, etc… This gives Uzès its charm, a mixture of beautiful local architecture, small lanes, green and blue shutters, the golden colour of the stones, the valley surrounding the city.
Uzès is famous for its Saturday market (one of the best in France) on the Place aux Herbes, the central square of the city which not only offer incredible local produce (prettily arranged on the stalls), but also textiles, art and potteries. What makes it special, too, is that the place is surrounded by tall buildings with arcades where many cafes have set up shop. You could say it’s typical of French markets in small towns, but the one in Uzès has something else.
Outside of Uzès, there are many lovely villages, their centre often only accessible on foot because of the narrowness of the streets. Vézénobres, Lussan, Sommières and la Roque-sur-Cèze are the most famous. All are built on top of hills and have incredible views. Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie is a more traditional town, but if you like pottery, it is the place to visit.
Arpaillargues-et-Aureillac were I have placed the house Mark rents for the summer is another lovely village, with its own castle (a chic hotel today) surrounded by fields and vines.
The château where Monsieur de Daujac used to live, and that Mark is thinking of buying is an invention of mine but there are a few in the area that are a mix of Gothic architecture like you find in the Loire Valley for example and more southern architecture where you don’t have round turrets and buildings are squarer with red or brownish tiles like you found in the cities in the south.
Until next time,