I have no idea why I settle on Uzes for that one section of our trip.
I wanted us to focus these days on the Roman presence in Gaul, mainly focusing on Arles and Nimes. I looked into staying in both (not at the same time…you get it)..but both struck me as a little too big for us. It was hard for me to understand the layout of the towns and impossible for me to know what they were really like from a distance. Renting an apartment in an unknown city is always a bit of a risk, not only because of the risk of being scammed, but also because you just don’t *know* what a city or neighborhood is like until you are actually there.
Somehow, though, I stumbled on Uzes, and the take on it – medium sized, a bit touristic, but not too much so, with a distinct medieval core – attracted me.
(And subsequently walking around both Nimes and Arles, I was very glad I hadn’t stayed in either, especially the latter. There was nothing awful about them by any means – I guess I just fell in love with Uzes…)
Then I found this apartment, and for a few days late last month, there we were.
It was lovely: both the apartment and the town.
Uzes was really just the right size. It wasn’t tiny – with 23 residents like Appy in the Pyrenees, where we stayed right before this. It wasn’t huge. As I said the tourists (er..us) were certainly present, but not in overwhelming numbers as they were in Montignac. Plenty of restaurants and boulangeries, a couple of decent grocery stores in the center with larger stores (Carrefour on our side) on the perimeter. Stone everywhere, with rivers, rocky crags and vineyards on the way out of town.
So how odd is this? I’m in Paris now, and while I am enjoying it and find it interesting, I’m pretty sure I won’t return, especially for any length of time. Not because it’s unpleasant or uncomfortable, but because there are so many other places to see in the world that I’ve not even come close to yet, and Paris, with all of its qualities, isn’t pulling me deeper (as does, say Rome.)
I suspect it is partly because I am such a fan of places where the layers of time are much more discoverable than they are in Paris, where the ravages of upheaval, revolution and then Haussmanification have cleared so much of the city’s history away.
But Uzes? I could return. There were several points nearby I really wanted to see but didn’t. This troglodyte monastery, for example. But more than that, this much, much smaller town posed more interesting questions for me. Or perhaps because it is smaller, I felt as if the questions were more answerable there.
I said somewhere else that it really is a shame that so many cross France off their list once they’ve “done” Paris. I found the nooks and crannies of the rest of France endlessly fascinating and rich. It’s more of a challenge to get there, yes, but it can be done.