Isle sur Sorgue is a charming town in Provence, one of the hometown villages of our Provence Untour. It is also well known as a center for the antique trade and for its lovely location, at the foot of the Vaucluse plateau. Isle-sur-Sorgue is known as the Venice of Provence because of the canals that pass through town. The Sorgue River begins at the famous Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, about 4 miles to the east, and divides into 5 arms that run through Isle-sur-Sorgue before joining again and splitting into two rivers just outside of town.
I recently spent a couple days in the area. Join me for my Sunday stroll through town.
Our day in Isle-sur-Sorgue started with coffee at Cafe de France, a perfectly French cafe with generous outdoor seating for people watching, a zinc bar, and a lively bustle. It was chilly on the day I visited, but on a sunny day these tables fill. A coffee here is a must.
On Sunday mornings, the antiques market is in full swing. People travel from miles around to pick through the piles. We arrived early, to beat the worst of the crowds and to get first dibs on the best treasures.
Items for sale range from kitsch to vintage to true antique. It is estimated the market draws up to 300 dealers from around the region in its busiest months. The market offers a wonderful jumble of collectibles, art, and furniture to comb through.
Architectural salvage and larger fittings for palaces find a permanent home in a nearby complex with space to hold it. Antique collectors will find hundreds of antiques and second-hand goods dealers with store fronts and shops that can be visited throughout the week.
After browsing antiques, we stopped at Jouvaud, a bakery and cafe, for a light lunch and a little shopping. Along with cases and trays filled with gorgeous baked goods both savory and sweet, you will find a nice selection of small gift items and home goods. Their hand-crafted chocolates and pastries are divine.
We bought a few essentials from the market stalls to set a lovely dinner table. Along the southern canals you will find an open-air produce market both on Sundays (in the shadow of the big antiques market) and on Thursdays. It is perfect timing to shop for the makings of your weekend feast.
We strolled around town past Isle-sur-Sorgue’s many waterwheels. The silk and paper industries used to thrive here, with mills driven by the waterwheels in town. Most have disappeared, but about 15 moss-covered wheels remain, adding charm and character to this gorgeous town.
Isle-sur-Sorgue and its surrounding area offer a wealth of restaurants, shops, banks, and all the amenities one could need. With a population of 20,000, it is the largest of our Untours hometowns in Provence, yet it retains a delightful coziness and charm.
Oh, how I love Isle-sur-Sorgue and the Provence Untour! I yearn to return for another stroll, another cup of tea, another pastry… See you there.