The First Duchy in France
Languedoc-Roussillon region hosts one of the most ancient cities in France: Uzès. The first traces of occupation are found on the banks of the River Alzon, close to the source of the Eure river and date back to the Roman time. In 50 A.D. the Romans decided to tap the source of the Eure river to provide water to the city of Nîmes. This aqueduct is known today as the Pont du Gard. Later Uzès became one of the most powerful Bishopric of France, this lasted until the French Revolution.
In the mid-16th century, many citizens of Uzès were Calvinist and the town was the 5th largest Protestant town in the kingdom. Religious wars resulted in the destruction of all the churches and of the temple that Uzès had at the time. In 1685, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes caused many to leave for Protestant countries in Europe, or their colonies. The “newly-converted’, isolated from employment in government service, grew rich through trade. In 1661-62, the writer Jean Racine stayed in Uzès and his “Lettres d’Uzès”, sent to his Parisian friends, are a precious record of town life at this time.
Through their title the Dukes of Uzès were first in line for the throne after the princes of the blood. Over several centuries, they held various rights in court ceremonies: as the Queen Mother’s knights, they carried the crown and sceptre during the coronation and were responsible for pronouncing the words “The King is dead, long live the King” at funerals. It was their duty to put their sword and their life to the King’s service and this resulted in 21 Dukes of Uzès being killed or wounded in battle.
Uzès is a charming city in the South of France – Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is a typical Proveçal town, with its local market where you will find all the southern products as olive oil, cheese, nougat and calissons. It is the perfect place to enjoy the Provençal lifestyle while discovering the local cuisine and sipping a glass of rosé wine!
The star of the city: Truffles
Truffles have been known in France since the Roman time, but during the Middle Age, they become less used. During the Renaissance, truffles regained popularity in Europe and were honoured at the court of King Francis I of France. However, it was not until the 17th century that Western, and in particular French, cuisine abandoned “heavy” oriental spices, and rediscovered the natural flavour of foodstuffs. Truffles were very popular in Parisian markets in the 1780s. They were imported seasonally from truffle grounds, where peasants had long enjoyed their secret. A great delicacy was a truffled turkey!
The Fête de la Truffe in Uzès takes place during the month of January (usually around the third weekend of the month) and is the occasion to celebrate this delicious and delicate product and the pigs who find them!