Around France

Visit Uzés, France: Inside the Château de Duché

Any who visit Uzés, France are in awe of the Château de Duché. It’s the centerpiece of the town and home to the Duke of Uzés — the oldest ducal peerage in France.

If France was still a kingdom, the Duke of Uzés would rank just below “princes of the blood.” It is he who would announce Le Roi est mort. Vive le Roi! at each state funeral, and defend the honour of the queen mother.”

The Château de Duché was built in the 12th century by Lord Bermonde of the House of Crussol. Along with the château, three distinctive towers were erected within the wall of the medieval town. The most prominent tower of all carries his name — Bermonde Tower. All of the structures are standing today. The wall has disappeared and the wall’s watchtower is in ruins.

Visit Uzes, France

visit uzes franceThe gothic chapel, a striking feature of the château’s courtyard with its glittering red tiled roof, was added in the 15th century. During the 16th century, the cháteau underwent extensive renovations. Duke Antoine — the first peer of France, ordained by Charles IX — ordered refurbishments that morphed the medieval castle into an elegant Renaissance cháteau. The courtyard became the main attraction.

The château served as a defense unit during the War of Religion and the Revolution.  It was never attacked or destroyed. As the town went through various phases of wealth and decline, the château was used as a school dormitory, workshops and classrooms. During WWII the buildings were occupied by the Germans.Jacques de Crussol, the current resident of the Château de Duché and 17th Duke of Uzès has this to say about the state of Uzes during the era of his grandfather (1943-1999).

“Uzès was then steadily declining. The population of eight thousand at the time of Louis XIV had dropped to three and a half thousand. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes had already prompted some of the inhabitants to leave. Since the Revolution, the town had lost the bishopric and its tenure, the silk industry was practically non-existent, the Piémont régiment had gone, and so had the sub-prefecture. The arcades surrounding the Place aux Herbes rested on makeshift supports and many houses were in a state of neglect.”

It was the Duke’s grandmother, Anne de Rochechouart de Mortemart, who lobbied the Minister of Culture under Charles de Gaulle to list Uzés as a protected site, enabling the chatéau and the town to find funding for the much needed restorations. Due to the efforts of the Duchess of Uzes, a law is now in place in France that similarly benefits other cultural and historic sites throughout the country. The gutsy grandmother was the first woman in France to be granted a driver’s license. She was instrumental in campaigning for women’s rights, including the right to vote.

Tour of the Château de Duché

I’ve spent day after day staring at the Duché from my apartment windows and I’ve taken hundreds of photos every angle. Finally I found the perfect opportunity to visit inside — along with hundreds of other sightseers — during the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine or European Heritage Days. 

Come along and let’s take a tour.

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17 replies »

  1. WOW! I loved seeing these. We’ve stayed with Rich and Paula several times, walked all around Uzes (amazing!) and have looked out on the Chateau from their apartment, as well as peered into the courtyard from outside the gate, but “seeing” it all through this post was really wonderful. Thank you! Also, we hope you have fully recuperated.

    • You must come back during September for the weekend they do free tours. It’s really a much more impressive place than the photos show. So neat to have a Duché in town! Would love to see you again.

  2. I didn’t see the palace on the list of places open on that weekend? BTW I heard that the family owned the toll gate on the road across the Pont du Gard in the 16th century and collected tolls. Have you heard that? Lovely photos!

    • Yes, I went to the palace last year during that time. How interesting about the toll gate. I’ll see what I can find out. Thanks for the note and input!

  3. We are coming back to Uzes in September for our third visit. I have enjoyed reading your posts! May we bring you anything from North Carolina?

    • So glad that hear you’re headed no my way. I’m away a lot in September but let me know when you’re there so we can meet. Thanks for the offer for NC supplies. I’ll take you up on it next time! Safe travels.

  4. Deborah great little history of Uzes and one that I have sent to friends who ask what it is like to be in Uzes!!!

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