surrounded by 10 ha of land, looking out over the horizon in Uzès
In Uzès, in the Gard department’s golden triangle, not far from the Pont-du-Gard and less than 30 minutes from the main communication routes, 30 minutes from Nîmes (TGV train station and airport) and 40 minutes from Avignon (TGV train station and airport).
This property spans a vast area on the outskirts of the ducal town, just a stone’s throw from the Place-aux-Herbes, made famous by its market and its fairs as well as its bookshop. France’s oldest “Duché-Pairie”, once the department’s subprefecture and now a town of art and history, rescued from oblivion by an ambitious preservation plan, Uzès exudes a special magnetism, that can be explained by the authenticity of a town with 8,000 inhabitants, together with an outstanding architectural unity that makes it one of the architectural gems of Occitanie.
The fortified Mas house
The actual Mas house is the result of a succession of construction works. The latter began in the late 15th century with two buildings that now form the north and west wings. They were continued over the centuries and in accordance with requirements up until the late 19th century. This property currently spans more than 1,000 m² of living space.
The north-west corner is flanked by a stairway tower, topped with a Romantic style coping. It includes a wonderful example of a corner turret based on a squinch, housing a stairway providing access to the roof terrace. The facades of the two Renaissance style buildings still feature numerous 16th and 17th century windows, as well as a protruding reconstruction supported on triple corbelling on the west side (formerly used as latrines on the first level and a bartizan on the second). The external dressed stone facade of the south wing reflects a more classical style, marked, on the one hand, by a gallery linking two buildings, featuring two sets of three rectangular windows, meticulously aligned on the first and second levels, enhanced with narrow string courses and, on the other hand, by two small, single-storey, protruding pavilions, topped with terraces. The Mas house courtyard is closed on the east side by a 2-storey building used as living space and a porch, housing an open, L-shaped stairway. All the buildings are topped with gable roofs, covered with Roman tiles, apart from that covering the entrance porch.
The main building of this traditional Mas house takes up the largest floor surface area of this level which contains several rooms featuring barrel or cross-ribbed vaults. They all face south, looking out over the parklands, and consequently receive light all through the day from dawn to dusk. Several of them have a fireplace, including a vast dining room which also still has its old “potager” (a secondary hearth where soups and other previously prepared dishes were cooked on embers) and access to the house’s only cellar. A terrace on the west side extends the rooms on this level which features numerous windows and French windows. The floors are paved with old tiles or grey oblong-shaped tiles, the walls are whitewashed and the stone vaults have been meticulously repointed. The south-east and north-east buildings also comprise several vaulted rooms (including one that opens on to the entrance porch containing a well in the corner that it forms with the inner courtyard). In addition to storage areas, some of these rooms are linked to the flats, independent of the main building, two of which are reached via an open stairway under the porch, whilst the south-east building is reached via two secondary stairways accessed via the courtyard.
The first floor of the main building is reached via a wide, spiral stairway, housed in the corner tower set in the courtyard. The landing walls feature two outstanding doors, topped with finely sculpted, ogee lintels. One leads to the rooms in the north wing, whilst the other leads to those in the west wing. Two adjoining reception rooms take up the north wing: a lounge, with exposed ceiling joists, illuminated via two wide mullioned windows, and a library, featuring north and west-facing windows. The lounge provides access on the east side to two smaller rooms communicating with one of the independent flats, one of which is illuminated via a French window opening on to the Mas’ north terrace. The library, however, provides a link to the west wing of the house and has a French window opening on to the north terrace. Behind a small door, it also conceals access to a tiny room, once used as latrines, contained in the protruding reconstruction on the west facade and illuminated via a single opening. The west wing, which extends southwards from the library, can also be reached via the second landing door. It contains a suite of rooms used for living purposes: a study, an anteroom and a bathroom, all illuminated via the east side overlooking the courtyard and the west side, looking out over the plains. And lastly, they provide access to a vast, L-shaped room in use as a bedroom, forming the corner of the west wing and also looking out over the parklands. It benefits from a dual, south and west, aspect as well as a small terrace on the west pavilion in the parklands. This room is extended by an elegant gallery, linking it to the secondary stairway housed in the south wing, the landing of which provides access to the flat that takes up the corner of the Mas on the east side. This latter, on the first floor, has a living room (opening on to the terrace above the east pavilion), a kitchen and a bedroom. It also has an interior stairway linking it directly with the courtyard. The flat contained in the north-east gable houses a living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a toilet. Its main entrance, featuring an arched French window set in the exterior wall on the east side of the Mas, which is on the ground floor, can be reached via an interior stairway. However, the flat has two secondary accesses on the first floor, one via the open stairway under the porch and the other via a concealed door linking it to the large lounge. Apart from the conversion works in the flats where modern materials were used, all the rooms in the main building have been restored with old and terracotta tiles as well as panelling and fireplaces, both also old. Some exposed stone walls are accompanied by brightly painted undersides of the floors of the upper levels, with the exception of the ceiling in the large lounge with its exposed joists, where only the interjoists are painted.
The second floor, laid out under the rafters, has a similar layout to that of the floor below. The rooms are illuminated via small windows under the eaves, overlooking the courtyard to the east, the parklands to the south and the plains to the west. The main house predominantly has large, easily convertible areas (electric wiring and plumbing is laid on and the rafters are fully insulated) which are currently used for storage purposes, with the exception of the area above the large lounge where there is not enough height. The spiral stairway contained in the stairway tower provides access to the rooms in the main house, whilst the flats in the buildings on the south-east and north-east sides are reached, for the first, via the south stairway and, for the second, via an interior stairway following on from the open stairway under the porch. These two areas respectively comprise, on the south-east side, a bedroom linked to the flat on the first floor and, on the north-east side a last flat comprising a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom and a shower room. The last landing features a wonderful example of a column, following on from the drum of the newel, supporting the stairwell vault springing.
The roof terrace, reached via a narrow spiral stairway housed in the protruding turret, provides a 360° view. Crowned with crenels and merlons in the 19th century, the tower and its stone-domed turret, topped with a weathervane, are part of the singularity of this old sharecropping farm, a cross between a traditional Mas house and a fortress.
This property includes an independent house on the north side which can be used as a guest house or for accommodating a caretaker. Converted in the old pigsty, it is flanked to the east by a wide lean-to, where several cars can be parked. It is extended on the west side by a terrace built against the embankment. Fully converted, the inside is laid out around a central column containing a fireplace, facing a living room, its high ceiling going up to the sloping roof. The upstairs, above the kitchen and a section of the living room, comprises a small room, a shower room and a bedroom. The house is pleasantly illuminated via contemporary windows on the ground floor and small windows under the eaves upstairs.
The parklands and the imitation prehistoric caves
Planted harmoniously with the intention of maintaining the views from the traditional Mas house, the parklands extend southwards in line with the Mas over almost 200 metres, forming a long grassy parterre. Predominantly open, it planted with flower beds and tall trees, enhanced with a fountain and a long, contemporary ornamental pool, as well as numerous constructed features (low walls, belvederes, ditches). Such features not only bear witness to past farming requirements, but were also created to give a pleasant, romantic air. They include an old oratory, a pavilion without a roof as well as gazebos and arbours covered with “Lady Banks” roses in summer. At the far southern end, the parklands merge into the undulating meadows, bordering the property. On the west side, the ridge formed by the embankment comprises several man-made, prehistoric caves, showing signs of regular use. A level area in the direction of the Mas, below the west terrace, is home to a vegetable garden, extended by herb beds.
The meadows surrounding the traditional Mas house bear witness to the vast areas of land that have been cultivated since ancient times and that formed the wealth of Uzès cathedral chapterhouse. They are, nowadays, partly given over to pasturelands for the property’s donkeys. The meadows on the south slope are renowned to have several springs. A high, wooded knoll surrounds the estate on the east and south sides, on the edge of the road and the urban areas, protecting the property from contemporary nuisances.
Looking out over the horizon with the Cévennes mountains outlined in the distance, this unusual building is not only an emblematic feature of the landscape, but also bears invaluable witness to centuries of history. It has accompanied men during times of wealth and those of misfortune. A traditional Mas house, it was closely linked to the life of the ducal town that it helped to enrich by providing sustenance for its flock. During the last century, it belonged to a local leading citizen who, archaeologist in his free time, used it to indulge his romantic fantasies. It then sank into oblivion prior to being given a new lease on life by outstanding restoration works and French Historic Monument listing.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24). This verse which inspired André-Gide, a local author, when writing his autobiography “If It Die”, is delightfully reflected in the longevity of this property’s admirable new lease on life.
|Land registry surface area||9 ha 7 a|
|Main building surface area||1100 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||100 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||8|
Ménélik Plojoux +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.