On Saturday we went back to the beautiful bastide town of Uzès. An hour and a half from Lourmarin, just west of Avignon, we often visit on a Saturday. We get up early to stop off on route at the Antique Market in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, a weekly event across the river from Avignon, to then hurry on to Uzès where on a Saturday Uzès plays host to arguably one of the finest markets in the region. This delightful duchy holds a special place in my heart. It’s where we lived in 2012 and where the story of Shutters and Sunflowers began. It’s also the stage for my World War II historical novel, The Sunflower Field, the true story of the Polish cryptologists who having cracked The Enigma Code in 1932, lived in hiding in Uzès, for two years during the war.
And within minutes of arriving back I was reminded of the inspiration for the title of my blog. The shutters adorning the windows of Uzès that so captivated me,
and the golden smiling faces of the sunflowers, which long after they’ve danced their annual repertoire in nearby fields, still fill the flower baskets in the market.
A market that was in full swing when we found our way there, shaded below its’ leafy canopy in Uzès central square, Place-aux-Herbes.
Amongst the abundance of fresh produce was local purple garlic,
and colorful whicker baskets, greatly reduced in price as the summer season has begun to dwindle to a close.
And announcing the arrival of autumn, there was a wide variety of mushrooms, including a Provençal speciality, cèpes, only available for a few weeks at this time of year.
The market winds its way along the cobbled streets between the town’s splendid golden arches.
And by lunchtime the restaurant tables are full, weary shoppers tempted by the plat du jours. Laughter and chatter fill the air and no-one seems to notice the market slowly slip away.
Leaving the bustle behind, it’s an ideal time to explore the now deserted streets.
One quickly becomes immersed in the charming ambience of this truly special place. A timeless enchantment which never fades.
The worn steps of Rue rue Saint-Théodorit entice us down.
And finding our way back to Place-aux-Herbes, all swept and cleaned, it’s hard to believe just moments earlier this was the hub of a busy, heaving market.
Crossing the square we wandered into a local favorite, the one shop I always have to return to, Les Pots d’Uzès
I wished I could buy some more, especially the very largest ones for my outdoor patio.
I had to content myself with just looking ……
As we made our way back through the streets we caught a glimpse of one of the treasures of Uzès, the Fenestrelle Tower, peeking its head above the roof tops.
Nearby a sunflower smiled in greeting outside one of the local artisan’s shops.
We passed by more ancient, shuttered buildings,
and lingered for one last time in Place-aux-Herbes, not wanting to leave.
Standing wistfully outside the house where we lived (which I’ve featured in my novel)
we wandered back down the street and as always, I wondered disloyally, if maybe we should have bought in Uzès, it always beguiles me so….
Driving back, we promised ourselves to soon make a trip back to the magnificent walled city of Avignon.
And through the front windscreen, as we caught a glimpse of Le Pont Saint Benezet, we found ourselves humming the nursery tune we’d both learned in Primary school, ‘Sur la Pont d’Avignon…’
That evening, back in Lourmarin, sitting outside our beloved Café Gaby, my doubts about where we should have our house in Provence, fade. I’ll always adore Uzès and love every moment we spend there, but this is where we belong…..
Come and see for yourself!
Rent Maison des Cerises ~our house in Provence, already taking bookings for 2022!