Monday, December 14, 2015

The Duché d'Uzès - interiors




In my previous post, I shared the exteriors of the Duché d'Uzès as well as the views from the rather exhausting but also exhilarating climb to the upper terrace of its donjon.


But let's step inside, shall we?


Now, worth mentioning immediately? We are visiting the chateau of the oldest duchy in France. The de Crussol family were initially Viscounts and Lords, dating back to Elzéart d'Uzès in 1080. It was Charles IX who first elevated the family to the title of Duke in 1565 and they became the first dukes and peers of the realm when the Duke de Montmorency forfeited the title in 1632. If France was still a monarchy, the de Crussols would rank immediately after les Princes du Sang or the Princes of the Blood. 


While the donjon tower was built over the ruins of a Roman encampment, the central core of the Duchy dates to the 11th century and two connected rooms strung with portraits of the various Dukes and Duchesses dating from that time...


...up until the (poorly photographed, I admit) oil painting of Jacques de Crussol d'Uzès, the 58 year old who is the 17th Duke of Uzès. He divides his time between the duchè and the residence that he shares in Paris with his pretty Italian wife Alessandra and their family.


It is worth noting that the chateau has been in the family for one thousand years, save during the French Revolution when it was claimed by the state and transformed into a school. It was bought back from the people of Uzès in 1824. 

There have been some interesting characters to hold the title through the years, including the Duchess Anne, who was initially the heir to the Veuve Cliquot fortune (there are quite a few Balthazars of the bubbly in the wine cellar), an adamant huntress who rode until the age of 86, the year before she died. She was also the first woman in France to get a driver's license and the first to get a speeding ticket too.


It will probably come as no surprise that my favorite room is the formal Louis XV salon replete with stucco gypseries, stunning chandeliers, canapés corbeille and chaises both covered in a gorgeous red silk chinoiserie pattern...


...a grand tapis emblazoned with the family crest and motto of Ferro non auro (which means "iron not gold" as the family comes from a line of warriors rather than from finance) that the current Duke had made...


...enough blue and whites to make a collectionneur woozy...


...and even a peek into the recently refurbished red room which is still used as a private sitting room by the family. Pretty, non


Alas, the rest of their apartments remain...privé


Let's continue on down the main hall lined with Murano chandeliers...


...to stop off at the bedroom of the Turkish ambassador...


...before heading into the dark and moody Renaissance style dining room...


...decorated with Aubusson tapestries and the hunting trophies from many a generation...


...as well as a charming triptych from the period on the nature of love and union.


I suppose then, that subject appropriately leads us to the family chapel, the end of the 45 minute long tour through the Duché d'Uzès.


So, what did I think? 

My initial shock at the 18 Euros per person ticket price was abated with the hope that it would be worth it. I have to say that those hopes were not fulfilled. There are only five rooms plus the chapel on view during the visit and...oh dear...I have to say that the French guide was the worst that I have ever experienced, a number which is not small. Une femme d'un certain age, she most likely has been doing this gig...forever...and yet, as my Mom pointed out, that didn't inspire her to dress more appropriately than worn-out jeans and a baggy t-shirt. Not only was her speech for each room delivered in a monotone rote (think Charlie Brown's teacher) but she would take lengthy pauses to make her point with a dramatic downwards glance that were outright squirm-inducing. That is, for those of us who understood French. The rest were given photocopies describing what to see in each room and I can vouch that the English version covered about half of what the guide actually mentioned. I hurriedly tried to translate the important parts that were left out in a whisper to my Mom and her husband, in vain. And yet, we were, finally, hurried through all but the first two rooms (the least interesting visually) to the point that my Mom did not even get a photo of the chapel as she would have liked as the guide had already given a drawn out sigh at her attempts. This is the only time that I have not tipped a guide because there was in no way that she deserved it. Instead of putting our 18 Euros towards weaving luxurious rugs, perhaps the current Duke would be so kind as to create an informative multi-language audio guide instead? That would certainly have made me feel like I had been taken for less of a rube...or a "commoner" either.


But I did want to present the aspects about the duché that I found interesting as well as its history...so that you can decide on your own if you feel it is worth a visit...or not.

Duché d'Uzès
Place du Duché
30700 - Uzès
Tel.: +33 (0)4 66 22 18 96
Admission is 18 Euros, with varying prices for 16 to 7 year olds, children under 7 are free.
The visit is not accessible to those in a wheelchair.
The last entrance is a half-hour before closing time (6pm or 6:30 in July and August).
Open everyday save for December 25th.


31 comments:

Maywyn Studio said...

I like your tour. Thank you

As I pick a piece of baby spinach off my top, (good salad bar moment), I think I'd go on the tour just to see that gold and green ceiling. I've never been in a location like that. I wonder what it feels like, the why of it all, what it does to the brain.

Patricia said...

Last July when visiting Uzes, the choice was lunch or the pricey tour, and lunch won out. very grateful for your report ... And lunch was great!

robin said...

Well it looks beautiful! As you described your lackluster tour guide, am I the only one who imagined YOU, with your glamorous red hair, red lips, and vivacious spirit giving the tour? The job would be beneath your talents but you would be great at that! Thank you for the tour - I loved seeing it through your eyes!

George Snyder said...

I think you should write to the Duc and offer to record a guide in French and English - I know it would be spectacularly informative and charming and witty and fun and worth every sous for him to engage you. And you have many fans who would vouch for your guide expertise! Love from L.A., G

Judi of Little House said...

Very interesting history, adds so much to a visit. If I ever get to Provence again, I want to go on a tour of anything, with you! Your interior shots are as beautiful as the exterior - and I always think the interior are much harder to do - especially stained glass. Is there a trick? I often can see them beautifully through the lens but they come out white sometimes...I know it's the light, but disappointing when you think you'll get what you're looking at! I love that last picture, potential for all kinds of lighting issues - and it's just perfect!

La Contessa said...

I ENJOYED MY TOUR VERY MUCH!I think my favorite room was the HALLWAY!
I shall TIP MY GUIDE when I see HER!
XO

RebeccaNYC said...

I don't have a lot of memories of touring the interior...and now I know why! As interesting as the public areas are, I can only hope that the private area is more....comfortable? I hate to think of a home with such uncomfortable looking chairs! :-)

Emm said...

I'm sorry it was so poorly done, but your tour was very good. Especially the pictures of the Louis SV salon -- in spite of the size and the stunning formality, it looks like a room where people could sit and chat and be comfortable together.

Agreed that the Duc shouldn't rest on his laurels; surely he must realize the power of social media by now -- and you'd be a wonderful choice to record a dual-language audio tour for him.

Let's Have Lunch said...

Hello Heather,

I think the most beautiful part is the Chapel.
Those stained glass windows are glorious.
It was Euros well spent Heather.
Happy Christmas to you and Thank you for your blog this year.

Cheers

Anita xx

Lorrie said...

Thank you for the tour and the information about the duchy (and family). 1000 years - that's incredible to me. The Louis XV salon is just gorgeous. The decorators are not afraid of color, are they? Such grand spaces can carry the contrasts well. Very elegant.

Bill Facker said...

It sounds as if a theatrically musical "Ta Da!" after each monosyllabic utterance from the tour guides mouth would have been too much fun .... "Ta Da!"

Aloha,
Bill

Loree said...

The architecture is beautiful. The entrance fee is rather expensive though for five rooms and a chapel.

Stephen Andrew said...

Gorgeous! I love the colors in that room. And also want those exact blue and white vases/jars. Will you go back and ask them which Home Goods they came from? :)

simpleimages2 said...

I like the red room and the chapel.
And even the nobility doesn’t have everything.

Heather Robinson said...

Yes the chapel was quite pretty...and something tells me that you would not have let anyone hurry you out of there either...

Heather Robinson said...

So curious as to where you ate, Patricia...?

Heather Robinson said...

I have to say that the guide was a prime example of everything that I try NOT to do when I give my guided walks in Arles...*harumph*

Heather Robinson said...

In French too? *sputter, sputter* Oh no, my accent being what it is I think that I could do more harm than good! But thank you for being such a supportive friend...

Heather Robinson said...

Oh gosh no Judi, thank you but these photos are very far from perfect in my eyes! Most of the rooms were rather dark so shooting without a tripod and my shaky hands meant using a stronger ISO than I would have liked, hence the grain. And yes, there is a trick to stained glass - you set the light based on the window, not the surroundings - not that I had time to do that! - again, all of these were quickly taken shots!

Heather Robinson said...

Of course you liked the Murano! No surprise there... ;)

Heather Robinson said...

If you peek back into the private red room you can see a low slung cushiony couch. More to your taste?

Heather Robinson said...

Oh gosh, not in French! As I said to George my accent, while not awful, is still quite present. A-hem. But I do wish that he would think about an audio guide - and yes, a better website too. As you say, there is much to be appreciated in our world of social media...as several Chatelains know who have become successful on instagram!

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you so much, Neat! Sending you wishes for a very Happy Christmas to you and yours down under...

Heather Robinson said...

Robin's egg blue and red is a color combination that I adore - the salon was a recent renovation and I agree it works beautifully in the space, Lorrie.

Heather Robinson said...

You are one seriously silly goose, Bill. Thank you for the giggle...

Mahalo and Aloha,
H

Heather Robinson said...

That is what I felt too, Loree. Can you imagine the cost for an entire family?

Heather Robinson said...

Not a problem. Although I think in the notes that it said that they were a Limited Edition to the stores in Georgia. ;)

Heather Robinson said...

Hmm...well, at least on the surface? What they do have is not exactly shabby...

Susan Athanasakou said...

Well, after just looking at the exterior of this spectacular place, it's hard to say which is the better, inside or out, both have their unique beauty I suppose.
Forgot to add, in my comment on your previous post, on our trip to France, we did visit Arles, unforgettable, not only for the beauty of the place, but also because we got our car locked in the car park, which turned out not to be the car park at all, more like the village Square, just before walking up that steep hill. We were therefor ages before someone came along and opened up the barrier. We were lucky not to be fined, most likely they saw the Greek number plates and though "Forget it"!
Susan.x

Mary Sue said...

hi heather
Thank you for a beautiful tour. For me it is like being there in person and thanks for your pictures I can revisit again.

Judi of Little House said...

I know my eye is not trained like yours, but, in my eye these are great - in such low light, yet bright chandeliers and stained glass windows! Thanks for the tip/ Next church I'm going to try this. I may have been doing it, by accident, as I do have a few glass pics that are good, but many are 'more white' than colored!