I had never heard of Uzès before I applied for an internship at Cook’n With Class; boy was I in for a surprise when I got here! I was expecting Uzès to be a smalltime French town with few people and not too many footprints! That image was shattered the first weekend I got here. I decided to take a Saturday morning stroll around town, and I was off to explore! To my surprise, the streets were filled with people and cars of many different nationalities. The atmosphere was buzzing and the air was steeped in a wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread. And when I walked towards the Place aux Herbes, I was fondly greeted with the hustle and bustle of a huge market that seemed to go on as far as the eye could see! Needless to say, I spent the next few hours exploring the market just taking in all the colours, smells, & sounds.
The market was filled with all things new and old; clothes and textiles; spices and salts; dry fruits and preserves; food and wine; bread and cheese; and so on. There was also a large collection of antiques on display, and as I would later find out after reading the blog on antiquing in the South of France that there are several brocantes and vide greniers in and around Uzès. (To the un-initiated, brocantes are antique markets and vide greniers are like garage sales, where people gather to sell the stuff that they don’t need! What can I say? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!).
Le Paysage – The Countryside
After I got properly ‘initiated’ to how things work in Uzès, I came to understand that it is a tourist town that is also home to many foreign-born locals all drawn to this small city in the south of France. Of course, Uzès is home to many French natives, overall giving this place a surprisingly cosmopolitan vibe. It wasn’t too surprising to learn then that many of the business owners here are from different parts of the world, and they each bring their own unique culture and influence to this international town. I had the first week in Uzès all to myself to explore the town and the several hidden gems that it has. The biggest of those hidden gems that I visited was the Vallée de l’Eure, Uzès’s wonderful green park; I spent a wonderful afternoon roaming around the valley and taking in all that it had to offer. Here is a guide to hiking around the valley.
I started interning at cook’n with class during my second week here in Uzès and I was introduced to the organic winery Deleuze Rochetin across the street from the school the very first day. A couple of weeks later, I got the opportunity to go on a tour of their winery along with the week in uzès class, and I was surprised to find how much work goes into making a bottle of wine! One of the most arduous tasks of the winemaking process is picking and sorting the grapes. I was lucky enough to witness the harvesting process. But it’s not always sunshine and sweet grapes; the winemakers have to go through a lot of struggle. Read here, a post on the woes of the winemakers during harvest season by our Sommelier Frédéric Duverger.
The Pont du Gard – UNESCO World Heritage Site
The same week, I also got to visit the Pont du Gard along with the week in Uzès class. As you might or might not already know, the Pont du Gard is a relic from the Roman times which used to act as an aqueduct to bring water into the households of Nîmes from the town of Vers Pont du Gard. As we were enjoying our wine and aperitif, with a great view of the sunset, Yetunde was telling me about how the Pont du Gard acts as a centre of activity for many events that take place in and around Uzès. She was fondly recollecting the night markets that she visited around here in the summer of 2018. [village party with food vendors from local producers, artisans and sometimes games and music]
The Week in Uzès (French Culinary Holiday)
The next day, we had a date with our local horse whisperer and winemaker par excellence, Emmanuel, fondly known as Manu. He was our guide through the beautiful ‘les capitelles’ of Blauzac and took us there in his horse-drawn carriage. We then had a wonderful picnic and were enlightened with Manu’s knowledge of the local terroir and the flora.
And this was all just part of the wonderful experience that I had along with my first week in Uzès class. Although it takes planning and effort to organise these events and outings, it is well worth it in the end to see happy and satisfied customers.
As you can probably guess by now, I’m extremely happy with my internship here at cook’n with class Uzès. It’s been a month since I started interning here and I have learned a lot about Uzès and the people who call this wonderful place home. But I must admit that I’m still a greenhorn when it comes to exploring Uzès. I have yet to do so many things like go on a guided tour, experience the truffle weekend, visit the Christmas market (which I hope I get the chance to do) and many more I’m sure!
Well, these have been my experiences in Uzès so far! Looking forward to many more in my two remaining months here at Cook’n With Class!
P.S: If you need more reasons to visit Uzès check out our 8 reasons here.
And when in Uzès, don’t forget to take in the local color and flavors with a French cooking class with chef Eric Fraudeau.