Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Duke's place, Uzès, France

You can go to the website to read all about the Duchy of Uzès, so I won't go into all the history of it. What I will say if you go on the guided tour (€18) – which I'd recommend, because it gets you inside some of the rooms – and you're not a French speaker, is that you'll be given a ringbinder notebook that tells you about what you're looking at. However, as a keen student of the language, I listened very hard to our guide and managed to pick up a few bits that weren't written down. For instance, 'fantôme'. I didn't need to be a French scholar to know what that meant! Apparently, this place is very definitely haunted. However, absolutely nothing happened while I visited to say this was so.

My favourite bits? The portrait of Peggy Bedford, American grandmother of the current 17th Duke of Uzès (we Americans do like to get around! She appeared to be quite glamorous and pretty, too, not a million miles away in looks from Grace Kelly and, similarly, died in a car accident...), and the view from the top. Ooh, la la! Très beau!

Another nice thing is the wabi-sabi building opposite the entrance to the Duke's palace, with the words 'Telephone Uzès' painted on the front between the first and second stories. Aside from the 21st-century cars parked outside, you could be standing here a hundred years ago.

Actually, that's a lot of the charm of Uzès: that the old is allowed to be and hasn't been modernised beyond recognition.

I've been sitting here, writing this and enjoying some of the local wine while I do (it never hurts to house-sit for a wine importer...) and thinking that, if you'd asked my 16-year-old self, "Where do you think you'll be in 40 years?", I would never ever have come up with this scenario...

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