Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A bientôt.

So this morning, I swapped the soundtrack to my jog from Daft ABBA...because tomorrow we leave Uzes en route for three weeks travelling around Sweden, Denmark and Ireland:

Our suitcases are almost packed. Luckily, we've just discovered that the international airline, which will eventually take us home to Tasmania, has increased it's luggage limits to 30 kilos each...phew. This last week has been a whirlwind of frenetic activity.....amongst other things, the fete de l'ecole and the end of year's the five year old sporting a gardener's costume....whipped up by the teacher out of the magic that is crepe paper:

The farewelling of friends....I even donned this Collette Dinnigan frock:

and drove an hour down the peage to Montpellier to have a swanky lunch with my fab friend Nicole at the Musee Fabre:

....while my husband and children watched the stage finish of Le Tour de France.

And here's the ten year old bidding au revoir to his best friend from school, the friend who single handedly turned his school experience from torture into triumph (thank you, thank you, thank you):

And the ticking off of the last few activities from our bucket list.....including climbing two of the three towers of Uzes:

And canoeing down The Gardon and under the Pont du Gard:

I'm really sad to be saying goodbye, it has been a truly amazing experience in an incredible place.

Look at this achingly beautiful field of sunflowers that I stumbled across on Sunday on the way to a brocante market:

And this view of the the Virgin Mary glimpsed from the Jardin Medieval:

And even more perspectives of Uzes' answer to the leaning tower of Pisa, Le Tour Fennestrelle:

And finally, feast your eyes on this dramatic electrical storm which crossed over in front of our place last night:

So, so beautiful. 

Anyway, I am just going outside and may be some time.......realistically, I may be all the way back in Hobart before I can access my computer again, seeing on the next stage of our journey that we're flying Ryanair with only carry on bags and even then we'll all be crammed into that Volvo. Anyway, if you're tempted you can always check in and see what I'm up to on instagram here.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013


So, if I've whet your appetite for a trip to Uzes here's my insider's guide to hanging out and imbibing in this beautiful, medieval village.

Our life in Uzes has centred around the Place aux Herbes, which is tucked away in the pedestrianised heart of the town, inside the Boulevard:

Every house that we looked at renting was measured on a scale of how far away it was from the square. We ended up in a four storey town house, the one with the dove grey shutters....conveniently it's equidistant from the square and the children's school and so close to the Ducal Palace that we can hear the flag on top of the tower being whipped by the wind:

Most mornings, after I've dragged myself through the surrounding countryside in the Valee de l'Eure, jogging, I rendezvous with my husband in the square and I negate any beneficial effects the strenuous exercise may have caused, by pulling up a chair at a cafe....either 'Les Terroirs' which has WiFi or 'L'Oustal' which does not yet which has better coffee.... and drink a cafe creme....or two. And then we are back again at the end of the day, for an evening apero....a glass of crisp pink rose for me and a pastis for my husband. This tends to be relatively soon after we've placated the children, who are usually in full cry about how hairy their day at school was.....with a Nutella crepe at 'Passion Vanille' (1 Place aux Herbes, Uzes):

This has proven to be such a fail proof way of winning them over to the bright side of being in France that we have inadvertently assumed the mantle of 'Passion Vanille's' best customers. So frequently has our family descended on this shop, that last week, when they were photographing ice cream sundae concoctions for their new menu, they were taking photos of the various ice creams and then feeding them to our children.....for free. 

OK, so a common theme running through our time here has been bribing our children to endure school....where we plunged them for one term, initially friendless and unable to communicate, into four achingly long days a week from 8.30am - 4.30pm, doing lessons in unfamiliar French, suffering the hardship that is the canteen when their parents wouldn't rescue them and bring them home for the two hour lunch break and instead they had to stay and be dished up a three course meal.....and surviving teachers that shout. We may have also had to resort to other means, beyond the Nutella crepe, with the next most popular being the occasional trip to the 'Haribo Factory', which is very conveniently located just on the outskirts of town (Pont Charrettes, Uzes):

In our defence, you can count our number of trips to the 'Haribo Factory' on the one hand. The French nurse a national addiction to sugar and it is an overwhelming sight to see laden boxes crammed with confectionery leaving the outlet shop. I've never seen anything like it. Next to the boutique, there is also a 'Musee du Bonbon' which is a pleasant enough way to while away the afternoon although it's not really 'Charlie in the Chocolate Factory' esque as you don't actually see them making the famous gummy bears.....although, if you are so inclined, in a museum environment, you can try your hand at twisting a liquorice strap or coating a Tagada in sugar. Regardless, children love it....especially as there is a generous dose of free lollies.

Anyway, I digress....on Wednesday and Saturday the square is overtaken by the market:

I have just finished wading through a biography of the late English cookery writer, Elizabeth David, who it transpires, was responsible for suggesting that Le Creuset be coloured in that iconic shade of blue....the same blue as a packet of Gauloises cigarettes....and who wrote about the market in Uzes and how it 'sells delectable food and how she was able to buy at least fifty different cheeses, the bakery sold seven varieties of bread and the pate in the charcuterie was delicious'......I'd agree with her yet add that in addition to all of this you have to get your hands on some of the spectacular olives (especially the green ones stuffed with big slices of garlic), steel yourself to fork out at least 10 Euros for the stingiest yet best piece of nougat that you will ever taste (on Saturday they were road testing a new flavour...tiramisu) and DO NOT, I repeat, do not leave without buying some of Cyril's snails either in the shell or in a biscuit.

Our family has scaled to new heights of snail worship, as on the weekend we all drove out to have dinner at Cyril's snail farm 'Les Escargots de l'Uzege' which is transformed into a restaurant on Saturday and Sunday nights over summer:

We sat at our table and gazed out over the 'parc' where 45,000 snails are in residence, we saw them being watered and relentlessly nagged out children to be careful not to upset the snails.....or be electrocuted by the fence:

For entree, I had snails stuffed with melted butter, garlic and  parsley while my husband had his snails with truffle:

Main course was Escargots a la Provencale, snails in their shell cooked in a thick ragout of onion, garlic, wine and tomato:

Followed  by a dessert of snails...OK, not really, however on the assiette gourmande there was a snail shaped biscuit filled with chocolate ganache:

Since we have been in Uzes we have been eating our way around most of the cafes and restaurants in town....I say most as I'm hoping that in the last hurrah of school we can synch the babysitter and manage to try out a couple more. Until now, our favourites have been 'Le Comptoir du 7' (5 Boulevard Charles Gide, Uzes) where we went for lunch soon after we arrived...back in the days before we had a babysitter, during the middle of a tempestuous thunderstorm and where we accidentally drank a litre of red wine.....from what I remember though, the food, service and atmosphere were very a town where most of the food is overpriced, over fiddled with and touristy. 

You won't find 'Au Petit Jardin' (Boulevard Gambetta, Uzes) in any guidebook yet, as it only opened a couple of weeks was the babysitter who put us on to it:

It has a beautiful, little garden in the courtyard out the back, where parasols vie for space and pots and mixed borders spill flowers, herbs and greenery:

The food is interesting, delicious and decorated with flowers....look at this fish carpaccio garnished with lavender sprigs:

And this magret de canard with caramelised raspberry compote, eggplant and mashed potato which was unexpectedly studded with fresh raspberries:

This traditional looking creme brûlée was perfumed with orange flowers and tasted gloriously like summer:

We have also had some perfect picnics up on the garrigue with afar off the the rooftops and towers of Uzes in the distance:

Nothing beats a glass of champagne and some serious patisserie from either 'O Saveurs de Mon Enface' (Centre Commercial Pont de Charrettes, Uzes):

or from 'Deschamps' (17 Boulevard Gambetta, Uzes):

Trust me on this....although, if you have a penchant for drink and cake, like I'm afraid that I do, you can easily recreate a similar experience anywhere and make your heart sing.