I nibbled on a flaky golden croissant for breakfast on the terrace of the hotel where I watched a couple of local fishermen down “keep me awake for a week” espressos. Across the Basin, the clock on the wall of the restaurant read the same time as it did when I arrived, the same time as it does every day. I felt like it was saying, don’t worry about rushing, take your time, there’s nowhere you need to be except here, enjoying yourself. The word idyllic sprang to mind.
Antiques, antiques, antiques!
I had heard that Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has lots of antique shops and flea markets. I’d seen some lovely photos of the town. But nothing prepared me for the sight when I walked a few yards along the road from the hotel and turned into Avenue des Quatre Otages. Filling the pavement and spilling into the road were stalls piled with things I wanted to take home. From furniture to paintings, ornaments, knick knacks, china, textiles, rockets (yes I saw a rocket), clothes, statues, garden furniture and this and that.
Every alley, every side road, every entrance seems to lead to another antiques warehouse or shop or a whole cluster of shops in antiques villages. Shady squares and ancient buildings – full of stuff! It’s like the Antiques Road Show come to life right in front you times a hundred – or rather times 300 as that’s the number of permanent dealers here.
And as if that’s not enough, every Sunday there’s an outdoor antiques market.
Each year there are international antiques shows at Easter and in August. Around 200 more sellers arrive so you can fill your boots. It’s a popular event and a stall holder told me that every summer, a foreign Prince arrives with his several wives to shop. He gives each of them a huge shipping container to fill with antiques and send back home. That’s what I call retail therapy!
If you’re an antiques fan – then I promise you, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is really going to float your boat!
How to get to the Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
By train from Paris via Avignon. In summer months the Eurostar runs direct from London to Avignon. The train from Avignon to Isle-sur-la-sorgue costs a few Euros and takes 25 minutes.
By Air: Avignon Airport or Marseille-Marignane International Airport then take the train.