Peta Mathias is an Uzès lover. She first came six years ago - and in 2010 she will be here from May to October. A self described gastro-nomad, she is a writer, TV personality and she also organises Culinary escapes in Uzès. This is how she likes to introduce the region:
"As I write, it is 30 degrees and I am gorging myself on Bouzigues oysters and tellines (tiny oval shellfish) sautéed in Pastis and olive oil. The first things I bought when I initially came to elegant Uzès in 2004 were a traditional lavender-picker’s hat - the straw ones with the huge brim and small crown, pink and brown striped espadrilles and an unbelievably crappy car to buzz around in. Armed with these three things, I drove through sleepy villages and ancient stone vineyards, saved myself from sun-stroke and was able to walk easily on the cobblestones. Espadrilles are made of rope and canvas - particularly suitable for the uneven provencale streets.
Being so beautiful, Uzès is one of France’s 500 Villes d’art where Cyrano de Bergerac starring Gérard Depardieu was filmed. It is a sparkling gem of a medieval town with old houses, lofty towers and narrow streets full of interior decorating shops and art galleries. It is famous for the long-standing House of Uzès, home of France’s highest-ranking ducal family, who still live in Le Duché (castle) dominating the town. It is [administratively] in the Languedoc-Roussillon where the maps are so covered in vineyard signs, you can hardly read them - it is the largest wine producing area in France. The Languedoc (originally called Occitania), so named because the people used to speak the language of Oc (now called Provençal and closely related to Catelan) rather than French, and some of them still do, attracts me more than the more glamorous, fertile Provençe to the east. It is dry, old, staunch, influenced by its closeness to Spain and so far not completely inundated by tourism. There are bull fights, abrivados (bull running in the streets), siestas and the people are friendly, reflective and a little sober rather than ribald and charming like their close neighbours.
Here the colours are not the cornflower blues and searing yellows of Provençe but more muted - washed out sage, dove grey, biscuit and pale blue. There is actually a classified ‘Uzès Green’ which is rather beautiful and calm. Languedoc is one of southern France’s great old provinces; you have to let go of time here; people will not be hurried. Before the first world war Provençe and Languedoc were equally popular backwaters, of interest mostly to winemakers, peasants and rabbits. But Provençe was cool and stylish; what did the Languedoc have to offer? Well the landscape is sublime, there is lots of sea, there is no hype, less people, dramatic history and artists and writers who live there consider it ‘the thinking man’s Provençe’."