Population2 8,213 (2008)
On the Verge | Uzes, the Hidden Gem of the South of France
Gerard Sioen/Gamma-Rapho, via Getty Images
Uzès is one of best preserved and most meticulously renovated towns in the South of France. It’s in the Gard département, 25 miles west of Avignon near the majestic Pont du Gard — an aqueduct bridge built in A.D. 60 by the Romans to supply water to Nimes — and has some superb Renaissance architecture. As Pierre Beghin-Say, the co-owner of two of the beautiful little town’s most charming hotels, L’Artemise and Le Clos du Léthé, put it, “The summer visitors haven’t yet denuded the town of its authenticity. Uzès isn’t commercially folkloric like some of the best-known towns in the Luberon or the Alpilles” — two other southern French spots favored by the Parisian gentry (and, increasingly, Japanese tour buses). “Instead it’s a small but cultivated and unpretentious town that’s attracting a growing number of interesting creative people, and unlike many southern French towns, there’s life here year-round and a strong sense of community.”
Beghin-Say ran a cooking school in London until 2004, when he and his partner Benoît Hérault, both avid gourmets and collectors of contemporary art, found a gorgeous old farmhouse just outside of Uzès that they renovated into Le Clos du Léthé, a delightful five-room inn with an outdoor pool. “Uzès was a Huguenot (Protestant) stronghold during the 16th century, and a certain liberal live-and-let-live tradition runs very deep here,” Beghin-Say said. “We love the relaxed friendly atmosphere of this town.” In 2012, the couple opened their second hotel, L’Artemise, in another exquisitely restored farmhouse on the edge of Uzès where they were already running a restaurant by the same name. “Le Clos du Léthé was always booked solid, so we saw that there was a strong demand for more rooms offering a distinctive décor and a high level of comfort,” Hérault said.
View Where to Eat and Drink • Uzès in a larger map
Here, places to eat, drink and shop in Uzès, according to Pierre Beghin-Say and Benoît Hérault:
Le Ballon Rouge
A wine shop that specializes in varieties from all over the South of France. 1 rue de la Ferté Milon, Uzès; 011-33-04-66-63-17-40; le-ballon-rouge.fr.
A wine bar with simple food and outdoor seating. 22 Boulevard Gambetta, Uzès; 011-33-04-66-01-00-07.
La Table 2 Julien
With an ever-changing menu, dinner is always a surprise. 12 Route d’Uzès, Montaren-et-Saint-Médiers; 011-33-04-66-03-75-38.
Wines by the glass and casual, light fare taste great on the outdoor terrace. 5 Place aux Herbes, Uzès; 011-33-04-66-03-41-90; enviedeterroirs.com.
A new Italian restaurant specializing in Neopolitan cooking. 30 Rue de la Ferté Milon, Uzès; 011-33-04-66-22-25-65.
This shop carries an impressive assortment of charctuerie, foie gras and fresh produce, which is supplied to the restaurant at L’Artemise. 2 rue Saint-Julien, Uzès; 011-33-04-66-22-13-34.
Contemporary pieces and accessories mingle with antiques and taxidermy in this French antiques shop. 7 Boulevard Charles Gide; 011-33-04-66-62-38-99; espacegide.com.