A trip to Gard, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, provides abundant opportunities to bring home pantry staples such as jam, honey and herbs, which are sold at open-air markets like the one in the Place aux Herbes in Uzès on Saturday mornings, or in Les Halles de Nîmes, the city’s wonderful covered food market. Other items to look for in the open-air markets include dried lavender sachets, table linens, olive-wood cutting boards, olive tapenade, baskets and faience. Gard was a major pottery-producing region even before it was settled by the Romans, and it still has many ateliers where ceramics are handmade today. The region’s other well-known handicrafts are baskets and furniture woven from willow, reeds and other grasses. Their quality is vastly better than the similar Asian imports found in American stores.
Since opening hours change and some ateliers are open by appointment only, it’s strongly advised to call ahead before visiting our recommended artisans.
Founded in 1802, this family-owned ceramics atelier produces traditional handmade southern French ceramics, including marbleware — different colored clays are mixed together to create a distinctive swirling pattern — and delicate latticed bread baskets and bowls. It also sells plates, pitchers, vases and many other objects. This is an excellent place to shop for gifts.
Pont des Charrettes, Uzès. Tel. (33) 4-66-22-11-86
This much-loved covered food market in the heart of Nîmes is a lively, colorful and fragrant place to shop for edible souvenirs. It also has one of the best cheesemongers in France, Vincent Vergne, who is an MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France), the highest award given by the French government to culinary and gastronomic professionals.
Les Halles de Nîmes
5 Rue des Halles, Nîmes. Tel. (33) 4-66-21-52-49
Denim was born in Nîmes (the word is a conflation of “de Nîmes,” that is, “from Nîmes”) and Guillaume Sagot is single-handedly trying to revive this historic fabric in its birthplace. From a light-filled workshop in the city center, Sagot, a trained tailor, hand-cuts many of the washed-denim jeans for men and women that he sells under his Ateliers de Nîmes label.
Ateliers de Nîmes
2 Rue Auguste Pellet, Nîmes. Tel. (33) 9-53-40-15-89
Located just outside of Nîmes, this award-winning producer makes some of the best olive oil in France from seven different varieties of olives. It also sells tapenades and cosmetics made from olives.
2373 Chemin des Loubes, Saint-Gilles. Tel. (33) 4-66-87-42-43
Run by Frenchman Benoit Rauzy and Englishman Anthony Watson, Atelier Vime in Vallabrègues offers a selection of vintage items made of wicker, rattan or cord. Some are signed by famous designers (Janine Abraham, Tito Agnoli, Louis Sognot, Audoux-Minnet), while others were made by anonymous craftsmen in villages with a tradition of production dating back centuries. The atelier also offers a full range of contemporary handmade French wicker, including lamps, tables, baskets and objets d’art.
21 Rue Nationale, Vallabrègues
One of the most inventive furniture makers in France, Laurent Passe most often works with wood or other materials that he’s re-covered to give them a second life. His work can be seen at the Atmosphere gallery in Uzès, or by appointment at his showroom in Beaucaire.
8 Rue de l'Enclos, Comps. Tel. (33) 6-61-70-67-03
Basket weaver Valérie Lavaure makes not only distinctive baskets but also wicker, straw and raffia handbags in her atelier in Uzès. She will work on special commissions and custom-made projects.
Carrignargues, Uzès. Tel. (33) 6-31-41-86-66