One day last summer, while I was heading back to Uzes from Sete, I detoured from the home-bound route to visit Pezenas. I had heard the Saturday Market in Pezenas is one not to miss.
As you very well know, market day is my favorite time to see new places in France, Even though it meant leaving Sete early in the morning, I was anxious to get on my way. If you don’t get to a Saturday market by 10am, it’s really hard to find a parking place. Also, by 1pm the vendors are pretty much closing up.
It’s a short window of time to “go and do.”
Saturday Market in Uzes is a hard act to follow. Pezenas was going to have to be pretty special to get in the rankings.
Let’s just say, I wasn’t disappointed.
One of the “most beautiful towns” in Languedoc
Pezenas, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in the Languedoc-Roussilon area of France, was once the political center of the États du Languedoc and the home of Parliament. The Hôtel des Consuls (Consuls’ Palace) stands on one of the main squares (Place Gambettat) which, on market day, is surrounded by shoppers and tourists.
The French Ministry of Culture designated Pezenas a Protected Area (Secteur sauvegardé) because of its over 30 historical monuments, including a monument dedicated to the French playwright, Moliere.
Apparently Moliere spent only a few days in Pezenas where he put on several of his less important theater works. Nevertheless, the town honors his contributions to the arts in France. For me, I need to learn more about Moliere than I picked up from the movie “Mozart.” In the film, Moliere was depicted as far from a “nice guy.”
Marianne, a symbol of the French Republic
One of the more obvious monuments in the center of Pezenas is a fountain with the statue of Marianne — a familiar symbol of the French Republic. Marianne triumphantly holds the flag of France in her left hand and a bolt of lighting in her right hand. The lighting rod symbolizes human rights “Droits de l’Homme”.
She stands atop a column which is surrounded by cherubs riding dolphins. On the column is inscribed with the motto of France: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.” The statue in the Cours Jean-Jaurès. was molded in 1880. The fountain was built in 1887.
Architecture in Pezenas
During my short half-day stay in Pezenas, I was struck by the awesome architecture in the town. I understand most of the large building were hotels or homes. The French and other Europeans of long ago loved to stay or visit in Pezenas because of its beauty, culture and proximity to the Mediterranean. Many of the town’s structures qualify for the “Inventaire des Monuments Historiques” for their “porte à colonne et ponton” or “entrance with columns and carvings.”
Mostly, I was blown away by the vaulted passageways. They are not uncommon in France, but here they seemed more colorful, friendly and inviting.
Food and more
For a solo female traveler, one of the things I often judge about a place is how comfortable I feel having a meal alone. In Pezenas, the scenery around the eateries — especially those in the city squares — is enough to keep you company. Here’s my view at lunchtime that day.
The Plat Du Jour
Later, after spending more time than I should visiting with the designer at a fabulous jewelry shop …
… here’s the view when I stopped for an afternoon refreshment.
Pezenas is a MUST GO BACK TO! place. There’s so much more to see and do. Especially in the summertime. There are festivals galore. Stay tuned for more …