L’Isle sur la Sorgue is a vivacious and pretty market town in Provence, much loved for its antiques stores and twice weekly markets.
Isle sur la Sorgue
Once an important fishing town, with an abundance of crayfish in the River Sorgue, this place is now firmly on the tourist route thanks to its prettiness and refreshing riverside ambience. In fact L’Isle sur la Sorgue is known as the “Venice of Provence”.
The River Sorgue has influenced the development of the town, providing for thriving crafts and industries, flour mills, wool and silk workshops. Many of the waterwheels remain from the days when mills churned the water to fuel businesses, adding to the picturesque look of the town.
The old town, once surrounded by walls, is very charming. On market days and in peak season it can get very busy with tourists and visitors but out of season and in the evenings it is much quieter.
What to see and do in L’Isle sur la Sorgue
One of the biggest draws for visitors are the antique stores of which there are many in the town and for the annual antiques market that takes place. There are over 500 exhibitors at major events such as the Foire Internationale à la Brocante et à l’Antiquité.
Each Sunday you’ll find the Flea Market on the Avenue des 4 Otages, there’s usually quite a carnival atmosphere and this has got to be one of the best antique markets in France.
Thursday is normal market day, which can create a lot of traffic and make parking difficult. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to sit and watch the world go by.
The waterwheels left behind from the days of industry now draw admiring glances from visitors. There is 12th century church that is well worth a look and plenty of shops selling typically Provencal goodies like olive oil and herbs, plus a sprinkling of art galleries. Wander to the eastern edge of the town for a fabulous view over the river.
Antiques and flea markets of L’Isle sur la Sorgue
Old book market: The last Sunday of each month, 8 am to 6 pm on the esplanade Robert Vasse.
International antique and flea market fair: Easter and August (check tourist office website for details and confirmation).
Flea market, all year round: Every Sunday morning from 8 am to 6 pm (additional markets Pentecost and All Saints Day (see tourist office for details).
How to get to L’Isle sur la Sorgue
By train: from Paris to Avignon (from 2.5 hours) and take local train to SNCF Gare de L’Isle – Fontaine de Vaucluse (on the Avignon to Marseille line, takes about 35 minutes). From London to Avignon (approximately 6.5 hours, direct service in summer months) and change trains to L’Isle sur la Sorgue.
By Air: Avignon Airport is closest to L’Isle sur la Sorgue; Marseille Airport, from where there are good train connections.
If you drive, leave your car in one of several car parks and walk – it’s definitely the best way to see it and not get caught up in traffic jams (in the peak season they can be rife).