Category: Village Scenes in Uzes

Photos and stories about everyday and extraordinary sights and happenings in Uzes, France

Christmas in France

Christmas in Uzes? Here’s a Preview

This year I plan to spend Christmas in France. Friends say there’s nothing in the world quite like it. 

One year I was in Uzes until late December so I got a hint of how special the atmosphere is around here. There are festive decorations on street lamps and above the roadways and walkways in town, store windows are filled with holiday gift items, and piped-in music blankets the airways. It is truly magical.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by!

 

 

 

Time for Fete Votive Uzes. Which Year Was Best? You Decide.

Fete Votive Uzes 2015 was spectacular. How will this year’s event compare?

By far, one of the most exciting events of the year in Uzes, in my opinion, is Fete Votive. Next week it’s live along the main street in Uzes with lights, action and extraordinary booming sounds. The imaginative “électros soirée” on August 5, 2016 will be the third I’ve experienced. Oh what a night that will be! 

Below are photos and a video from 2015 and there’s a link to highlights from Fete Votive 2014 for you to preview.  When I post the Fete Votive 2016 extravaganza, let me know which you think is the best of the best from the three years.

Fete Votive Parade Uzes 2015

Fete Votive Parade Uzes 2015

 

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A true fantasy!

Here’s just a sample of the sight and sounds…

Will they outdo themselves this year? All I can say is, “I can’t wait to see it!”

See Fete Votive Parade 2014 revisited here. 

Here’s the schedule for this year’s event — 

 

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Expat in Uzès

A Day in the Life of an Expat in Uzes

Friends often ask me “how do you spend your day as an expat in Uzes? Since you’ve asked, here’s an example of one day this week.  

I started the day with café crème and a treat, pain au chocolate, at a local cafe with friends. We were all heading for French class at l’Université Populaire. Yes, I’m going to give French another try and this time I’m going to succeed! My friends gingerly persuaded me that I needed to go with them — not just because I need to speak the language, but especially because they needed another person to sign up so they could hold the class. A little hot coffee, a tin of sweet biscuits and a fabulous teacher — Claudine — made the lesson go much faster than I expected. And more fun!

Morning French Class and Brocante

The Université Populaire is only a few steps away from my favorite brocante store, so who could resist? I stopped in and spent a few minutes looking around. Then I dropped a few euros to buy a small piece of furniture for my apartment — a carved chest. How do you like it? (photo below). It’ll be perfect to store things in my bedroom. I’ll add a couple of square pillows for seats.  I’m still trying to decide if I can live without the headboards you see below. For the guest room… hmmm.

While shopping I sighted a tapestry rolled up on a chair near the front door of the store. I immediately thought  of my friends Paula and Rich. They’ve been looking for something “medieval”to decorate their apartment. I called them and suggested they come down to see the tapestry.

 

Lunch at the Place aux Herbes

Expat in UzèsBefore I continue talking about my day in Uzes, let me introduce you to Paula and Rich. They are friends from California that I met a couple of years ago. I’ve mentioned them in several previous posts and on Facebook. Now they’re my apartment neighbours and “partners in crime.” They love to “go and do” as much as I do.  Rich and I are taking French lessons together. Paula’s pretty proficient at her new language. You’ll hear a lot about them in future posts, I’m sure. 

Paula and Rich joined me at the brocante. They loved the tapestry! On the way back to the apartment we stopped at a restaurant in the Place aux Herbes for lunch and to people-watch. A favourite pastime during tourist season.

Neighborhood Repas (Pot Luck)

Nowadays, I often take a nap in the afternoon. The temperature in the south of France is warm — in the high 80’s — and it’s a bit humid. (Compared to Atlanta? NOT!) Things pretty much shut down in Uzes and so do I. This day, after my nap, I had a chore to do. I had picked up some fresh pineapple, melons and cherries from the market in front of Université Populaire and I needed to prepare a fruit bowl to take to a neighborhood party. Everyone in our apartment building was invited for “repas”  — a pot luck dinner — and we were meeting on the rooftop terrace at around 7pm.

Here’s something I’ve learned about entertaining in France. If you’re invited to someone’s home for “apero” the hosts serve drinks and some type of simple food — a small bowl of nuts, chips or pretzels and perhaps a canapé — like tapenade on a toast crouton. Apero last for only an hour. Afterwards you might go together for dinner.  If you’re invited for “repas” you can expect a light meal along with drinks.  For a neighbourhood gathering the guests bring food to share. 

A dish that some of my French friends bring for repas is  chilled, creamed vegetable or fruit “soup.” For our neighbour’s gathering, there were two kinds of cold soups — avocado and beetroot. Both were presented in small bowls. The avocado soup was lightly flavoured with lemon, garlic and herbs. The beetroot soup had diced beets and walnuts on top of the slightly garlic-y, creamed base and a hint of herbs. They were both divine!

Oh.. by the way … never think about using beets from a can around here. It’s a travesty! 

Along with our delicious spread of food and good neighbours who have different levels of French and English language proficiency, it was a clear, beautiful evening. Up above the rooftops of Uzes we had quite a view

 

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Expat in Uzès

Rooftops of Uzes

I love this place!

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So it begins. Destination: Uzes, France

On returning to life in France after a long visit in the States, I’m melancholy thinking of how my life has evolved. Hopefully you’ll enjoy looking back with me

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Only four more days until I leave for my great adventure to Uzes in the south of France. Solo. Just as planned.

This is my first time blogging an adventure, so I’ll start by telling why I’m heading to Uzes, France; how I’m getting there; also, I’ll describe how I arrived at the itinerary– sketchy as it is.

Why Uzes?

I confess, I’ve been to Uzes. I visited there during a “great adventure” in 2011. My main destination was London to see Prince William kiss his bride on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. However, quite “out of the blue”, I had the opportunity to take off for France and to spend a Saturday market day in Uzes. Right then, that day, I swore to myself I would return to that exact spot.

Why did I choose Uzes as  the centerpiece of my adventure through the south of France? It’s simple. Uzes is somewhat out of the way, so large crowds of tourists won’t gather there; it’s close to Airles, Avignon, Nimes and other places I want to see; and, if that’s not reason enough, the walled, historic city is beyond charming.

Uzes

 

The master plan

I started with a budget. My first trip to Europe was in 1966. I traveled with two friends from UNC-Chapel Hill and we spent two-and-a-half months in England and around most of western Europe. Our “bible” was the book titled, “Europe on $5-a-Day.”

Dare say, there’s not a chance I’d survive on our 1966 budget, but there are ways to keep costs down so that you can afford a fabulous trip abroad for less than you think. My goal is to spend six weeks living, exploring and learning about the south of France and Barcelona on a $5000 budget (excluding airfare).

Choosing to make this a six-week trip was somewhat arbitrary. I wanted to stay as long a possible on my allotted budget, so I started checking on the cost of lodging in Uzes. I turned to AIRBNB, the travel website recommended to me by friends and that I had used recently on a trip to Fredrik, Maryland. The room I booked at a B&B through AIRBNB was delightful.

With a little searching around on the website, I found the perfect location in Uzes, at a reasonable price. The four-story apartment with one room on each floor is located within

Uzes

Rue St. Roman

the walled city. I could have the whole place to myself from June 6-29.

Once I had some dates to work with, the itinerary for the trip began to take shape. I started to communicate directly with the apartment owner in Uzes (who lives in Copenhagen). He advised me to fly in and out of Barcelona so that I could enjoy the train ride through the countryside to Uzes.  He also recommended that I stay in Barcelona my first night after the transatlantic flight so that I could fully enjoy the train ride the next day.

June 4 – Charleston, SC to New York

June 5 – Arrive Barcelona, Spain

June 6 – Train to Uzes, France

June 29 – Leave Uzes for Sete, France

seteSete. Here’s where the plan got creative. I wanted to visit a town on the Mediterranean after leaving Uzes that would take me south towards Barcelona and my flight home. Plotting a course on Google Earth, I stumbled upon Sete, France.

Reading a few travel reviews, I quickly realized Sete is a little jewel. Checking with AIRBNB,  I found there was an apartment “to die for” waiting for me. I connected with the hostess and, as luck would have it, I learned about the worldwide music festival in town during that time. That was good news and bad news. It meant I could only have the dream room for 2 nights, but it also led me to a bit of luck. My hostess managed to arrange a place  for me in the home of her friend for the rest of my stay. A guest house directly on the ocean — all for me, and right on budget!  More good news is that my hostess runs a wine tour. So I booked the stay and a tour. Whoopee!

July 7 – “Sketchy”

“Sketchy” is good. Really. I mean, everyone needs to schedule in time for a real adventure. A side trip. A chance to do something amazing — an experience of a lifetime, You have to allow a few days to wing it. That might sound a bit too crazy for some of you but just try it. You can always come up with a plan. For example, if nothing else comes along, I can take off from Sete and head west toward the wine country of Languedoc. Wouldn’t it be fun to stay in a winemaker’s cottage? To stomp grapes… like Lucy Ricardo?  Or, to spend time wandering along the Costa Brava? This part of the adventure may be the best of all!

July 11 – Barcelona

My lodging through AIRBNB is an apartment in El Born, a popular district in Barcelona that’s filled with history, neat shops,  tapas bars and restaurants. Most important for a solo woman, the area is safe– although I understand you have to watch for pickpockets wherever you go in the city.

I visited Barcelona, on my “Europe on $5 a Day” trip in 1966.  I remember a bullfight, some great paella, and a quick trip from Barcelona to Majorca. Honestly, I haven’t thought much about Barcelona since then. But when I saw I had an opportunity to revisit the city, I knew I wanted to spend more than an overnight. I have 3 guide books and a picture book about Gaudi to study before I get there. Plus, I have no problem meeting people along the way who, I’m sure, will give me lots of advice. Again, I’m winging it. This unplanned adventure in Barcelona could be very special.

July 15 – Charleston, SC

Home again! The end of another great adventure and the beginning of the next unknown.

 

Just Another Summer Tuesday Night in Uzes

The Barefoot Blogger is getting a bit blasé, I’m afraid, about all the activity below my apartment windows on Tuesday nights.

I mean, there are only market vendors with jewelry, food and all sorts of handiwork. There’s a bit of music and, of course, tango dancing at the Mairie (town hall). Sounds boring, right?

NOT!!!

Tuesday night around the Plaza de Duche

Tuesday night around the Plaza de Duche

 

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Tango dancing at the Mairie on Tuesdays brings together dance lovers and tango club members from near and far.

 

 

 

Dancers swirl to their favorite tango music in this beautiful setting in the center of Uzes.

 

 

Inside the Hotel de Ville (Mairie)

Inside the Hotel de Ville (Mairie)

 

 

 

 

Wandering around the plaza gave me a chance to stop by for a short visit with one of my favorite artists. (More about Marie and her work coming soon!)

 

 

 

 

There’s always something new to try from the weekly vendors. l’Aligot de l’Aubrac is a mixture of cheese, heavy cream and potato stirred up in a huge pot. It’s served here with grilled sausage and onions.Yum!

 

 

 

 

Not bad for a summer Tuesday night in the neighborhood….

 

Duche in Uzes on Tuesday night

Duche in Uzes on Tuesday night

 

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Fete Votive 2015 Uzes: Explosive!

There are few words better than “explosive” to describe the late night parade in Uzes that accompanied Fete Votive 2015.

After waiting for hours to see what event organizers had in store for this year’s Fete Votive parade, the crowds went wild. Justly so. The contrast of the loud, bright, huge moving floats against the pale, regal, ancient buildings along the streets of Uzes was striking. And exhilarating!

Fete Votive Parade Uzes 2015

Fete Votive Parade Uzes 2015

 

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A true fantasy!

Here’s just a sample of the sight and sounds…

 

Did they outdo themselves this year? All I can say is, “I can’t wait until same time, same place 2016!

See Fete Votive Parade 2014 revisited. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irresistible French Fashion for Summer

Female expat living in Uzes travels through Languedoc and Provence in France for fun and French fashion – Join the Barefoot Blogger on Facebook, too! 

A week or so ago, the Barefoot Blogger could not resist going into one of my favorite shops in Uzes, L’atelier des Ours. There’s a sale going on!

IMG_3240Yes, summer bobo chic fashions are everywhere. Lightweight pantaloons and flouncy ruffled dresses, among other irresistible things.

Who could pass it by?

Certainly not me! 

As is often the case, whenever I stop into the little shop with teddy bears on the door, I enter into a world that’s in a totally different dimension. A little story I wrote about the visit is now published in France Today. Come along with me and see what’s “in” for summer, French Fashion for Summer: Bobo Romantic.

…”There’s a little shop in Uzès, France where “women of a certain style” flock all times of the year. In summer, they pour out of the lace-curtained door of L’atelier des Ours in a steady stream, all carrying pink packages filled with pretty feminine things.”

 

 

 

 

 

Check out L’atelier des Ours on  Facebook and Pinterest

While you’re at it, visit the Barefoot Blogger Facebook page too. There’s always something going on!

 

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The Simple Ways Tourists Make the Best of Hot Weather in Uzes

For days the temperature has hovered around the ninety degree mark in Uzes. Next week, they say, it’ll hit ninety-nine.

For those who live in hot-weather areas around the world, ninety degrees is not so bad for summer. In France, when it’s this hot, it breaks records.

Century-old buildings with thick walls help to insulate homes and businesses from the intense heat, so air conditioning is scarce. There are some tried and true ways the French try to keep their indoor spaces cooler.

They shutter windows.

They turn on all the fans. 

 

They water the plants and close windows in the early morning.

Closed window in apartment

Closed window in apartment

 

Store owners know to take afternoon breaks and enjoy a cool beverage 

Store owners in Uzes

Store owners in Uzes

Yes, the French have ways to cope with the heat. But what about the tourists who are out in droves? How do they deal with it when it’s really hot?

They line up for ice cream. 

 

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They hang out at Place aux Herbes eating ice cream. 

Fountain at Place aux Herbes, Uzes

Fountain at Place aux Herbes, Uzes

They sit around outdoor fans that blow cool mist.

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They enjoy people-watching with friends while sipping on cool beverages.

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They look for water fountains where they can play.


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Tourists seem to love to shop when it’s hot.  It’s often cooler on the inside of a store than it is on the streets.

Tourist shopping in Uzes

Tourist shopping in Uzes

 

There are plenty of irresistible things to buy .. and a sale going on!

 

 

Some tourists patiently wait on others who are shopping.

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On the other hand, some tourists who wait are not so patient.

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What does the Barefoot Blogger do when it’s hot?

I “play” at one of my favorite stores.

 

… and eat raspberry sorbet!

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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

As you know, Saturday is the Barefoot Blogger’s favorite day in Uzes. It’s market day!

When I headed out the door the first thing I heard was music in the plaza…

Just around the corner …

 

… and there’s more!

 

Just in time for Father’s Day …

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“My mother is terrible, my father is a genius, and me … I like them!!

 

A carnival in town

A carnival in town

 

... and sidewalk cafes filled to the brim...

… and sidewalk cafes filled to the brim…

 

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local artists in Uzes

Village Scenes in Uzes: One Crazy Good Artist

Last Saturday afternoon one of the local artists in Uzes threw a soiree for a few friends and fans.

Aside from celebrating the last days of his art exhibit, it was a crazy good party.

local artists in Uzes

Artist dancing in the street

A Crazy Good Art Show

local artists in Uzes

Lemons

local artists in Uzes

“Rencontre Urbaine”

local artists in Uzes

local artists in Uzes

Le Mariage Pourtous

Good Food

local artists in Uzes

Fresh oysters and shrimp from the Saturday Market, pate, aubergine, saucisse (sausage), fromage (cheese) and pain (bread).

Funky Music

local artists in Uzes

New friends

local artists in Uzes

… and one crazy artist dancing in the street

local artists in Uzes

Francois Lewandrowski

This is how they do art shows in Uzes!

Wonder why I love it here???

Oh yes, almost forgot … and a piano tuner in the steet!

local artists in Uzes

Check out the artwork of  Francois Lewandrowski an other artist on Uzes: Village of Artists post.

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Village Scenes in Uzes: Place aux Herbes on a Summer Day

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French lessons are taking over my life. My quest to learn the language well enough to speak French by December is keeping my feet planted in Uzes for awhile.

There could be worse places to spend time, right? Here are some of the sights that are typical — and some not so likely —  this time of year.  The scene: the center of the village — the Place aux Herbes.

Place des Herbes, the meeting place in Uzes

Place des Herbes, the meeting place in Uzes

Musician plays for tips

Musician plays for tips

Musician in Uzes

Cyclists stroll through the streets leading to the Place des Herbes

Cyclists stroll through the streets leading to the Place aux Herbes

More musicians are scattered throughout the public places

More musicians are scattered throughout the public places

Musician in Uzes

Fountain seating at Place des Herbes

Fountain seating at Place aux Herbes

Families and pets stroll happily along.

Families and pets stroll happily along.

Sometimes there’s the unexpected ….

Cyclists in Uzes

Cycles in Uzes

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Village Scenes in Uzes: Public Park at Vallée de l’Eure

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Hotel in UzesNext to the Hotel Du Baron De Castille in Uzes stands the 17 century cathedral with the Romanesque bell tower, La Tour Fenestrelle.  Beyond the tower is a terrace that overlooks the Vallée de l’Eure and the public park.

The Cathedral and 12th Century Tour Fenestrelle

The Cathedral and 12th Century Tour Fenestrelle

 

 

The terrace that views the valley is also a parking area for the Cathedral.

The terrace that views the valley is also a parking area for the Cathedral.

 

Probably one of the best pieces of real estate in the city is this 17th century house behind the cathedral.

Uzes home overlooking the valley.

Uzes home overlooking the valley.

 

This “smarty cat” knows he has the best view.

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 The landscape between Uzès and the valley of the Cévennes is rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves and stretches of dwarf ilex, wild thyme, box and rosemary.

 

Vallee de l'Eure from the cathedral in Uzes

Vallée de l’Eure from the Cathedral in Uzes

 

 There are beautiful walks along the valley and the rivers, including along the streets leading into and out of Uzes.

 

  As you walk around  the cathedral’s parking lot,  you enter the public park.

 

Entrance to the city park in Uzes

Entrance to the city park in Uzes

 

Public tennis courts and swimming pool

Public tennis courts and swimming pool area

 

 

The walkway continues through wooded areas to the river valley.

 

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River runs through the valley

River runs through the valley

 

 

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I understand that at one time, the area around the river valley was active with mills and a small community of people. They have vanished, leaving only these remnants of an earlier time.

 

Abandoned mill at the river

Abandoned mill at the river

 

This is the same valley we visited in earlier posts at the remains of the Roman aqueduct (Source de l’Eure) and at Pont du Gard.  In Roman times the spring that originated here ran through the hills to Nîmes, crossing the river Gardon by means of the Pont du Gard.

 

Hopefully you enjoyed this walk with me around the village. Stay tuned for more…

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Village Scenes in Uzes: Domaine Saint Firmin

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Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I start French lessons this afternoon and put on my walking shoes this morning.

Anyone who knows me is probably laughing right now. There have been many “new starts”. The funny part about is, you never know which new beginning will stick.

Let’s just say my first morning’s walk has already reaped benefits. It led me to a part of Uzes I’ve never explored and to an interesting “Village Scene.”

Domain Saint Firmin in Uzes

Domain Saint Firmin in Uzes

 

Domaine Saint Firmin in UzesWhile walking along one of the back roads in Uzes, I passed the Domaine Firmin like I have several times before. But this time I heard bottles rattling and turned around to go back.

“Are they washing wine bottles?” said me to me. “That would be interesting to see.”

My curiosity was piqued and I headed down the entrance road to find out what was going on.

 

 

They weren’t washing bottles, they were bottling wine.

Domaine Saint Firmin in Uzes, France

Apparently, when the wine is ready to store in bottles, they back a bottling truck up to the door and work from there.  

 

Domaine Saint Firmin in Uzes, France

 

 

 

 

The mobile process is complete, from dispensing wine into bottles …Domaine Saint Firmin in Uzes, France

…to packing the final product into shipping boxes.

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…. to placing the cartons on pallets. 

Domaine Saint Firmin in Uzes, France

... with a backup 

Domaine Saint Firmin in Uzes, France

Plus wrapping the cartons tightly for shipping.  

Domaine Saint Firmin in Uzes, France

Perhaps another day I’ll return for a full tour.

Domaine Saint Firmin in Uzes, France

For more information on Domaine Saint Firmin in Uzes, France

 

 

 

 

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Behind Village Walls in Uzes

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If you think living in a village like Uzes is all art, food and dance, there are a few surprises.

My friend, Geoffrey, has turned part of his garden into a barnyard. It all started slowly, he said, while I was away visiting in the States.

First there were the chickens…

Barn yard in Uzes

 

… then ducks

Barn yard in Uzes

Barn yard in Uzes

 

Two grey rabbits …

 

Barn Yard in Uzes

 

 

Barn Yard in Uzes

 

… and then there were more.

 

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Barn Yard in Uzes

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I have his word that these precious creatures are “pets”. They will not be invited for a meal. 

… or else …

"Hey... you wanna mess with me?"

“Hey… you mess’n’ with me?”

 

 

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Château du Duché

Starlight Tango at Uzes’ Château du Duché

Nothing prepared me for watching Tango dancers at the Château du Duché. Practically at my doorstep.

The parking lot that my apartment shares with the Château du Duché is closed to traffic once a week through August. An ongoing festival, clearly for the benefit of tourists, is staged one evening each week to draw visitors to the village.

The fact that it takes place within a few feet of my apartment is pure good luck.

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Dance with the experts at Château du Duché

You can show up at the Château du Duché with your favorite partner or solo and dance the night away. Or you can show up for lessons with a tango expert. Whether you’re dancing or just watching, the music and the drama of the tango carry you away.

The tango is a popular dance in the south of France, due largely to the proximity of the region to Italy. Wherever you go that there is music, you will see couples dancing the tango. Even if they are not the best performers, tango dancers always seem to put their heart and soul into their moves. For me, I’m sure I’ll never step foot out on the floor. But for others who are not so timid, it looks like great fun.

Makes one want to put on your dancing shoes…

 Château du Duché

Tango in Uzes

Village Scenes in Uzes: Public Services

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One morning I was awakened to a strange sound in the street beneath my window. There were horses braying below.

Like a child looking for Saint Nicholas, I jumped out of the bed, flew open the sash, and grabbed my camera.

Uzes Horses

Uzes

Uzes

Later I learned the horses were pulling a water wagon to feed the town’s plants.

Clever!

It would be a real feat to maneuver a truck around these street barriers. Uzes

Plus, what a delightful way to start a day.

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