Isle sur la Sorgue Canals, water wheels, and antiques

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, also known as the Venice of Provence, is an iconic little Provence town with much to commend itself, whether you come for the antiques, the markets or the old town itself.

The Sorgue River


L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue means the island on the river Sorgue. It is the crystal-clear Sorgue which gave birth to the town, the water wheels scattered about provide the clue. The wheels drove textile mills, and the textile business is the source of the wealth still evident in the architecture of l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, with its grand houses and surprising church.

The Sorgue river, omnipresent, clear and cool, comes out of the ground ready-formed at Fontaine de Vaucluse a few kilometres away. In summer the river is the scene for various colourful activities, like water jousting and the floating carnival called the Corso Nautique.

If you fancy a dip, head for the Partage des Eaux (the Parting of the Waters) a short walk out of town. This is where the river cuts in two and effectively makes an island of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. It’s an idyllic spot, the river green and clear, big trees overhanging on the banks, even a couple of simple restaurants. You’ll want to jump in, but a word of warning – the river is so clean because it has just come from deep underground at Fontaine de Vaucluse, but this also means that the year-round water temperature is 13°C/55°F. It’s wonderful once you get used to it!

 

Antiques


The economy of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is no longer driven by the river, but by antiques.This is the biggest antiques centre in France outside of Paris.

Aside from markets there are permanent antique shops and antiques ‘villages’ – these are collections of dealers in disused warehouses, mansions and courtyards, about 300 of them, open from Friday to Monday all year.

Even if you are not buying, it is fun to browse because everything is here.

Museums


The Campredon Centre d’Art puts on 3 modern art exhibitions a year in a gorgeous 18th century mansion which is partially classified as a Historical Monument – worth visiting just for the building.

Housed in a beautiful villa by the river, Villa Datris is dedicated to contemporary sculpture, both inside and in the garden. It is open from May to October and entrance is free.

The Antique Toy and Doll Museum (Musee du Jouet et de la Poupee Ancienne) is the result of one local’s obsession – Huguette Jeanselme – who collected all the exhibits, ranging from the 18th century to the modern day. If you like antique dolls, you will like it, and if you find dolls a bit creepy you should avoid.

 

For the Kids


  • Parc Gautier is a lawned park in the centre wih playgound for smaller children and skatepark for older ones (and the bonus of one of the old grand houses of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to look at from the outside, Chateau Gautier).
  • Have lunch at La Villa restaurant, the children can swim in the pool, and after eating you can keep an eye on them from the sunloungers. And it’s a good restaurant.
  • Kayaking down the Sorgue, from Fontaine de Vaucluse down to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, with either Canoe Evasion or Kayak Vert. 
  • Younger children will enjoy spotting fish from a bridge or feeding the ducks, and then find the giant ear in the water.
  • Villa Datris, with its contemporary sculpture inside and out, is intriguing and accessible for children.
 

Restaurants


Search below for our Isle sur la Sorgue restaurant recommendations:

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What we like…


  • L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is where we come for a little bit of refinement – whether that is in the food or the shopping, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a step up from the villages.
  • Water everywhere! Provence can be a parched land, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a counterpoint to that, with running water never far away.
  • Of course the markets – Sunday is a perfect storm of antiques, bric-a-brac and food, and there’s a great choice of lunch venues too.

Things to note…


  • Sunday is market day.
  • Sunday is a very popular day to visit L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, so parking becomes difficult. You will always find somewhere to park, but it is a question of how far you have to then walk…
  • The prices at an antique or bric-a-brac stall are just starting points for negotiation. You should never pay the asking price!
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Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

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Maison Saint Antoine: 43.941989, 5.068946
Isle sur la Sorgue: 43.914342, 5.056801
Avalon: 43.903628, 5.210137
Villa Roussillon: 43.890362, 5.299208
Les Vignes: 43.840439, 5.213013
La Rourette: 43.943627, 5.247753
The Lourmarin Cottage: 43.763342, 5.364171
Maison de Gordes: 43.915482, 5.208474
Les Coudelieres: 43.933545, 4.974167
The Ansouis House: 43.737360, 5.464647
Maison de Bonnieux: 43.822572, 5.309476
St Hilaire: 43.829442, 5.256647
Villa Lioux: 43.944654, 5.286570
Les Petitons: 43.832236, 5.165591
Les Madeleines: 43.898511, 5.076885
Moustier de Menerbes 1: 43.829105, 5.209177
Moustier de Menerbes 2: 43.828788, 5.209821
Les Ocres: 43.900737, 5.286419
Bastide des Oliviers: 43.858513, 5.103021
Mas des Oliviers: 43.859364, 5.102184
Domaine de Gordes: 43.915022, 5.209435
La Roubine: 43.915022, 5.209435
Mas de Joucas: 43.910775, 5.255365
Les Heyrauds: 43.845751, 5.220469
Villa Lavande: 43.861221, 5.315881
Villa Ansouis: 43.752575, 5.448521
Provence Pines: 43.869575, 5.414806
La Beaume: 44.115329, 5.054162
Mas de Menerbes: 43.851458, 5.190225
Grambois Manor: 43.762230, 5.588865
Menerbes Vista: 43.833362, 5.205084
Grand Fontvert: 43.864195, 5.516108
Fontvert: 43.864149, 5.515775
Domaine de l\'Oratoire: 43.857430, 5.291762
Capucine: 43.857276, 5.291290
Marquis: 43.857430, 5.291977
Libertine: 43.856997, 5.290947
Calavon: 43.856626, 5.290689
Senanque: 43.856842, 5.290132
Villa Lacoste: 43.827933, 5.247452
Mas d\'Oppede: 43.828569, 5.173143
Les Vignes: 43.826748, 5.251497
Le Paradesque: 43.845384, 5.167018
Mas du Thor: 43.956835, 4.974704
La Fontaine Basse: 43.892450, 5.569725
Mas Les Tours Ouest: 43.858849, 5.250644
Maison Oppede: 43.839449, 5.166171
Mas de Murs: 43.958362, 5.217971
La Grand Bastide Menerbes: 43.839559, 5.204869
Villa Menerbes: 43.830619, 5.210597
Mas d\'Apt: 43.868679, 5.388484
Maison Oppede: 43.828977, 5.161384
Villa Dumaines, Cabrieres: 43.892444, 5.152480
Villa les Oliviers, Oppede : 43.834379, 5.176289
Villa Castelas, Bonnieux: 43.823622, 5.311986
Villa Détente : 43.846982, 5.167645
Mas de Ruby, Maubec: 43.851597, 5.135625
Maison Lacoste: 43.833044, 5.273545
Mas du Chateau, Lagnes: 43.894793, 5.115951
Maison Briand: 43.823430, 5.306400
Maison Saint Andre: 43.762078, 5.369018
Villa de la Petit Etang: 43.928318, 5.381581
Mas Les Sauvestres, Gordes: 43.907180, 5.226460
Maison Lagnes: 43.894091, 5.113870
Maison Les Emiyeux: 43.913120, 5.413900
Mazet du Hameau, Gordes: 43.873568, 5.183056
Maison Saint Saturnin: 43.928468, 5.382581
Maison du Vallon: 43.842899, 5.192467
Les Blayons, Bonnieux: 43.823976, 5.312148
Mas de Royere: 43.856193, 5.161600
Villa Parisot, Cabrieres: 43.888486, 5.143130
Domaine des Pradelles: 43.926375, 5.375794
Bastide d\'Oppede: 43.842159, 5.177173
Mas de la Lone: 43.903436, 5.085105
Villa du Petite Bois: 43.846621, 5.167432
Villa Belle Roche, Menerbes: 43.830659, 5.207299
Le Clos des Hauts d’Oppede : 43.834397, 5.164938
Villa Puyvert: 43.758508, 5.340124
Mas des Vergiers: 43.845916, 5.012564