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With its Idyllic riverside setting and antique shopping, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is another dream destination on our trip to Provence.
Cycling into L’Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue from our campsite was a dream. We followed the river Sorgue for 1.5 km along a cycle lane. As it was the first time on the bike since I broke my wrist, 8 weeks before, I was being a little cautious and stopped halfway to sit on a bench by the river to rest it a while and watch the kids on the water who were mucking about in their canoes.
The joy of being able to ride again was immense, and that old excitement and feeling of freedom came flooding back. You can forget your cares and just enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous scenery.
I love the feeling of wondering what’s around the next corner and what a surprise we had in store. We came to the beautiful town of L’sle-Sur-la-Sorgue. After locking our bikes to railings opposite a restaurant, we approached on foot to explore further.
We wandered around the small streets, which lead us past pretty buildings and waterside restaurants. We crossed footbridges over the numerous canals running through it and admired the many water wheels. Some of which are still working. The scenery was breathtaking. As we were there on a sunny day, it was such a treat.
I am thrilled with how the photos portray just how pretty the river is with the reflections of the buildings and the intensity of the colours from the plants in the crystal clear water flowing through the town.
We walked around admiring some of the grand mansions dotted around which had been the homes of the wealthy merchants from the past when the town was a thriving textile and paper making industry.
Our first visit to the town was on a Friday when it was quiet then again on a Sunday when it was bustling with the market.
What to see and do in l’Isle sur la Sorgue
It was easy to get sucked into the many shops and cafes in the winding streets of the old town, but we popped into the tourist office to pick up a map to follow which showed a total of thirteen waterwheels making up a circuit of the city.
Most of the waterwheels are heavily coated in moss, which all adds to the picturesque look of the town. The walk around the circuit didn’t take very long, about half an hour but it was a great way to visit all the parts of the city. The wheels are the 19th-century remnants of the towns silk weaving, wool and paper industries for manufacturing their local products and certainly adds charm to the area.
Click through the following photos.
Antiques, Antiques, Antiques
One of the biggest draws for visitors are the antique stores of which there are many in the town.
Over the past thirty years, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has become the capital city of antiques, thanks to the settlement of nearly 300 permanent antique dealers and second-hand shops in the town. As well as this Isle-sur-la-Sorgue hosts a major antiques fair twice a year; over the Easter weekend and on the 15th August.
The Fair which started in 1966 with just 14 exhibitors, now welcomes over 450 exhibitors (in addition to the 300 permanent antique dealers and second-hand shops. And is one of the biggest antiques and second-hand fairs in Europe.
You’ll find numerous antique shops and art galleries scattered throughout the town and could easily spend a whole day or two antique browsing.
Even though we don’t collect antiques, we absolutely loved walking around the various antique villages along the main road which are housed in the old mills and factories.
Click through the photos of the Antiques below
The L’Isle sur la Sorgue Sunday market is huge selling food, clothes, textiles, jewellery, and much more also it’s a flea market and antique market all rolled into one. The streets are thronging with colour and life.
The Sunday market is 8 am – 1 pm all year round. It really gets going between 9 am and 9.30 am, but if you are travelling in by car, it is advisable to arrive by 9 am or earlier to ensure you get parked. The food and produce stall holders typically start packing up after lunch, but the bric-a-brac and antique stalls will stay open until late afternoon.
There is a much smaller market held on a Thursday from 8 am – 12 pm all year round near the church in the Place Rose Goudard. Although smaller than the famous Sunday market, it is a very pretty Provencal market.
Notre-Dame-des-Anges (our Lady of the Angels)
Right in the middle of the old town is an imposing 12th-century church that has a Gothic interior well worth looking at. The interior is very ornate, and some would say it’s a little over the top. It was rebuilt in the 17th century, three sides still show signs of age, but the front is refurbished, and includes a lovely clock showing the time, date and phases of the moon. The church is also a venue used for classical concerts on summer evenings.
Surrounding the church are cafes and shops. Many of the shopping streets leading out from the centre have lovely window displays, and there are a sprinkling of art galleries.aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.
Just across the road is the most-photographed café in town. Café de France really is a pretty café with its bright green façade and is framed by two old plane trees. We sat and had coffee there watching the market in full swing.
The next trip in we enjoyed Nutella crepes and ice cream at a restaurant a little further down facing the beautiful church.
Shabby Chic Interior Design Shop.
There are some small museums.
Museum of the Santon (santons are clay Christmas figures, made in Provence), and old tools (Saint-Antoine, tel.: 00 33 (0)6 63 00 87 27),
Museum of Puppets and Toys, a collection of dolls from 1880 to 1920 (26 rue Carnot, tel.: 00 33 (0)4 90 20 97 31).
A trip to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue makes a wonderful day out or a weekend break from the nearby south of France cities of Avignon, Orange, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is about 800 kilometres (498 miles) from Paris , 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Lyon, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Marseille, 61 kilometres (38 miles) from Aix-en-Provence, and 23 kilometres (14 miles) from Avignon.
From Lyon or Marseille: Take the A7 motorway (the Autoroute du Soleil) then exit 23. Follow the D6 south then take the N100 to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue From Avignon: Take the N100 signposted to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue From Aix-en-Provence: Take the D7 north signposted to Avignon, then join the A7 at exit 26 to exit 23. Follow the D6 south then take the N100 to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
There are so many amazing places to visit which sometimes we can’t get to with our motorhome, so we often hire a car for a few days to explore more.
We take out an annual car hire excess insurance with insure4carhire.
RentalCars.com is the company we use if hiring from a campsite but if we are flying into an airport we use Zest Car Hire which usually has the best deals but can only be picked up from an airport or hotel.
Car Parking is available, both paid and free, but parking can be difficult, particularly from Thursday to Sunday. Obviously, arrive early in the morning if you are visiting on a market day. Look for spaces as you get close to the ring road that circles the town centre and then drive along the ring road and look for parking spaces. You may find parking at the train station if you can’t find anything near the ring road.
The town’s train station is located a short walk from the market area beyond the ring road.
The high-speed TGV runs to Avignon TGV rail station, 19 kilometres (13 miles) away. From Avignon station, there are around 10 buses a day on Line 6 to the town. The journey takes about an hour and costs 2 euros. There’s an infrequent service on Sundays.
By train from Paris via Avignon. In summer months the Eurostar runs directly from London to Avignon. The train from Avignon to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue costs a few Euros and takes 25 minutes.
The local buses within the TransVaucluse network make stops in and around L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The most common bus for tourists is the Line 6 bus that arrives and departs from Avignon. Other buses such as 13.1 and 13.2, also stop in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. You can check online for the latest TransVaucluse bus schedules.
Watch out for
Watch out for bus lines named ‘Ligne Scolaire’ – these are school buses only, and not for public use.
The nearest airport is Avignon, or Marseille Provence Airport is 70 kilometres (43 miles) away. CityJet flies from London City Airport directly to Avignon. Other scheduled airlines go from major UK airports. Also, check Cheapflights here
Where we stayed
Airotel La Sorguette
N43° 54’52” E05° 04’17”
This Site is listed in the ACSI Discount Camping Book available here. This book is definitely worth getting for its discount card that you can use for out of season camping.
Situated on the Sorgue River and within cycling/walking distance of the beautiful town. As you come out of the site onto the road cycle down for approx 400 metres. Turn right, cross the bridge and then turn left cycling along the river into town. Well maintained campsite. Spacious pitches with areas divided into 4. Snack bar just inside the site opens from lunchtime until later in the evening serving burgers chips etc.
Best Western Domaine de la petite Isle
Tel.: 00 33 (0)4 90 38 40 00
Set in spacious grounds, this pretty hotel has better than average rooms, all with air conditioning and all modern touches including free WiFi. Comfortable beds and good views. The hotel is next to the camping site and a 30-minute walk along the river into town.
Books to inspire
I love reading about a destination before I go there to get excited about the trip. Here are some wonderful books that are great reading and will get you inspired and excited about your trip.