Situated northeast of Uzès between the forests and scrubland of the Uzège region, Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie is a village that has escaped mass tourism but which still remains lively thanks to the presence of its craftspeople, potters of course, and many shops and businesses open throughout the year.
Strolling the streets of Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, a very old village with colourful Provençal houses and medieval doors, you will see that the its attraction lies mainly in the twenty or so potters and ceramists' who live and work here, rivalling each other in the creativity and originality of their boutiques and workshops.
As the name indicates, pottery is closely linked to the town's history.
Café des Potiers in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie
Dressmaker's in Saint-Quentin la Poterie
Decorated facades in Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie
Sign for a potter's shop
Bookbinder in Saint-Quentin
Place de la Mairie or Town Hall Square
The Griffe Fountain in Saint-Quentin
Tour de l'Horloge clock tower
Even though “la-Poterie” was only added to the name in 1886, pottery-related activities date back to the Neolithic period, as archaeological digs can attest.
The vestiges of a potter's kiln dating from the 12th or 13th century shows that the pottery industry there is very old. The village experienced its heyday in the Middle Ages when the popes in Avignon ordered their floor and wall tiles and other objects from the potters of Saint Quentin. Not to be missed when visiting the village is the kiln of refractory bricks, one of the oldest kilns still intact. Over a few floors, you can discover the workings of an authentic kiln. It's quite amazing!
It's also certainly worth visiting the Maison de la Terre that comprises the Potters' Gallery, the gallery Terra Viva and the Museum of Mediterranean Pottery. Devoted to ceramic works, this museum presents a magnificent collection of over 500 household objects from the 18th century to the end of the 20th century. A must!
The Terralha, the annual European festival of ceramic arts that takes place during 3 days in July, is a festive occasion to discover contemporary creations in pottery.
As you stroll through the village, take a moment to admire the Fountain of the Griffe, an old public fountain from the 19th century re-imagined by a group of young artists from Uzès who decorated it with pieces of mosaic.
Then, head up the Tour de l'Horloge clock tower, a square tower built of cut stone dating from 1770. A stairway leads to the 3rd floor from which you have panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. There is a charge but you can get a combined ticket at the Museum of Mediterranean Pottery.
In preserved natural surroundings, the area of Saint Quentin is a paradise for hikers and cyclists. To the north of the village, take the “Chemin des Capitelles” or route of the “capitelles”, the ancient dry-stone cabins of which many still remain in the neighbouring hills. Used by farmers in the past, today they are part of the region's cultural heritage.
Eleven kilometres from Saint Quentin, La Capelle-et-Masmolène is a town made up of two hamlets situated 800 metres from each other with the town hall judiciously located between the two.
The imposing 12th century château in La Capelle is quite striking. It was used as a backdrop for the 1975 film “The Story of O”. And in 1976, Jacques Besnard filmed part of “Le Jour de Gloire” there.
Masmolène has a castle and a chapel, both dating from the 11th century. The castle is in ruins but the chapel has been restored.
Before leaving on an excursion, you can buy your provisions at the markets of Saint Quentin. Although smaller than the market in Uzès, these markets are quite popular amongst the people of the region. The big Provençal market takes place every Friday morning and on Tuesdays it's the farmers' (many selling organic produce) and crafts market: Place du Marché in the covered Halle Joseph Monier, named in honour of the inventor of reinforced concrete who was born in Saint Quentin.