An autumn weekend around Uzes makes living in the south of France even more delightful for this expat.
The tourists have left, or at least the crowds are gone. The weather is cool. The colors of nature and the man-made village walls, homes and regal buildings are all the shades of red and yellow against the autumn sky. Most noticeably, there’s a calm in the air that has been missing.
Being that this is the Barefoot Blogger’s third autumn in Uzes, I now know a few more people and a few more places to roam. My world is expanding. However, I’ve discovered you don’t have to go very far away to enjoy sights and experiences that are familiar. But as you’ll see from the photos here, it’s all somehow very different in France. Come with me to spend a weekend around Uzes.
October is when many artists show off their latest works to the locals. In the nearby village of Cavillargues, an art exhibit — or vernissage — was hosted by town officials in the Mairie (town hall.) Andy Newman — one of my favorites who lives part-time in the US, part-time in Cavillargues — was the center of attraction at this event. The village is less than an hour’s drive from Uzes, so it was a perfect start for weekend activities. (See the earlier post for more on Andy’s exhibit.)
Dinner in Uzes
After the vernissage with all its wine and apéros (snacks), a visit to the cozy Italian restaurant, La Voglia, in Uzes was a perfect choice for a late, casual dinner.
Vallée de l’Eure Festivities
In the valley park near Uzes there is almost always something going on. This weekend the main event was “Envolée Céleste” or “Heavenly Flight.” Twenty hot air balloons lifted off the valley floor to soar above the town and countryside. We watched the pre-flight setup from ground level, then we climbed up a rocky, narrow path — filled with prickly bushes — to reach the highest viewpoint. The sights along the way and at the top were amazing, even though it was an overcast day. If you have 5 minutes and want to feel like you were actually there to see the huge balloons pop up behind the trees and hills around Uzes, watch the video.
Saturday Dinner and Jazz at Au Petit Jardin
To round out the balloon day events, friends gathered at the Au Petit Jardin for dinner and music. To top it all off? Caraxés: A new taste from France — spirits made with rum and aquavit.
Sunday Lunch at Le Zanelli’s
One of the best Italian restaurants in Uzes, in the opinion of many friends, is Le Zanelli’s. I confess this was my first visit, so I reserve my vote for a later time. A small salad was all I cared for after a large meal the night before. I will say, it’s one of the prettiest restaurants in town. Indoor and outdoor seating makes the location ideal for a Sunday, rain or shine.
A car ride into the Cevennes
As a child in the Carolinas, we’d often go for a “ride” on Sunday afternoons. We’d visit friends and relatives, or drive into a town nearby just to see what was going on. The habit is one I will pick up again now in France. So many interesting places are only a few hours away from Uzes.
A drive into the Cevennes sounded like a great idea, especially with the changing colors of foliage in the mountains. So off we went in good ‘ol Lucy — me, Paula and Rich — and we picked up Geoffrey to add humor and guidance. After an hour or so on the winding road, we ran upon a market where the locals were selling apples and onions. It wasn’t long before we discovered there was a festival farther up the road. Too bad we hadn’t looked at an events calendar or we would have made an earlier start. Next time! There’s a famous book to read about the area, too — Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Lewis Stevenson.
What an amazingly beautiful ride! Stops along the way to take pictures of the French countryside proved this was no ordinary “Sunday drive.”
Nosey me, I insisted we stop to peer into the yard and garden of a luxury château.
A Monday afternoon walk in the Garrigue
Depending upon how much time you have to spend in and around Uzes, try to find an opportunity to take off to explore by foot. Recently I’ve joined a “newcomer’s” group — AVF — and one of their popular activities is hiking. This walk, however, was with a leader of the AVF hiking group who was doing a “test” walk on an unfamiliar course before offering it to AVF. By the end of the afternoon, we’d travelled 8-10 kilometers along rocky trails, up and down large and small hills, in the garrigue (scrubland) area outside Uzes. Even where there is little more than short trees and sparse vegetation, the scenery was enchanting. (For a wonderful review of the garrigue, read this article at The Good Life France.)
Back to Uzes
After a very busy weekend, there’s no place like home. For me, this is the way…
More on autumn in the Cevennes: