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682km (424 miles) S of Paris; 39km (24 miles) W of Avignon; 51km (32 miles) NW of Arles

Set on a limestone plateau amid the scented garrigues, the herb-covered scrubland countryside along the foot of the ancient Massif Central, Uzès is one of the loveliest villages in the Languedoc. It's the home of the lords of Uzès, the first duchy of France, whose members can trace their ancestry back to Charlemagne and who still reside in the ducal palace of Le Duché. The poet and dramatist Jean Racine lived here in 1661, sent by his family to stay with an uncle, the vicar general of Uzès. Racine has since been followed by numerous French luminaries who have discovered the pleasures of having a second home in Uzès and the surrounding Uzège region where they can live relatively unobtrusively.

In 2008, Uzès was officially designated a ville d'art et d'histoire (a town of art and history), both of which are apparent as you wander through the medieval streets. Artists and craftspeople have set up their workshops and studios throughout the town, where they work with ceramics, stone, wrought iron, and painted furniture. It adds up to create a pleasant and quietly affluent atmosphere.