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Devoid of traffic, the cobbled streets of Uzès' old town remain largely as they must have been in medieval times, their pale limestone buildings glowing warmly in the sun. Today, they’re lined with small boutiques and a series of excellent restaurants and are a pleasure to wander.

Uzès has had mixed fortunes over the years, suffering greatly during the Wars of Religion, which lasted two centuries and pitched local protestant Huguenots against their Catholic countrymen. Cycles of economic fortune and dismay came in waves as the local people fought to defend their homes, eventually turning to silk production and then the confectionery trade to ensure the town’s success.

Uzès Cathedral, ProvenceUzès' cathedral was particularly badly hit, partially destroyed in the 13th century, rebuilt and then attacked again in the 1500s. All that remains of the original building is the 11th-century cathedral bell tower, the 42 m (138 ft) high Tour Fenestrelle. It’s France's only round bell tower and has a delicately detailed neo-Romanesque exterior of rings of arched windows. The cathedral was built in 1090 on the site of a Roman temple, and the simple interior provides an interesting contrast to the decorative bell tower.

Much of the history of Uzès is entwined with that of the town's dukes, who hailed from the regal House of Cressol. Their fortified ducal castle is one of Uzès' finest buildings, home to the dukes for more than 1,000 years and still used as their summer retreat.

At the heart of the old town is the Place aux Herbes, the main square, which is surrounded by a low arcade of limestone arches and shaded by plane trees. Cafes and restaurants spill out onto the pavement, and on Wednesdays and Sundays a market takes place here selling local breads, cheeses, olives, flowers and leatherwork.

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