From picturesque riverside spots perfect for devouring moules frites to one of France’s most popular antiques markets, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has plenty to offer.
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue’s worldwide reputation for antiques and art is a very good reason to take a trip to the Provençal town, but it’s not the only one. Whether you want to visit the art museum, find the best place for crepes or explore the famous Sunday market, use our guide to help you plan your trip.
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue’s fortunes have always been linked to its river
The river plays an important role in the day-to-day life of the town. It flows through the town eliciting pretty pathways that tourists can wander along. It is also a focal point for the many bars and restaurants which have terraces dotted along the river. In the past, the river was a major source of the town’s wealth. Local residents used to derive their income from crayfish, catching up to 35,000 each day. Later, they used the river to power giant water wheels, building mills for the burgeoning silk and paper industries.
The best art and antiques things to do in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has a lot of choice in terms of art. There are art foundations and art dealers as well as individual artists selling their own paintings and sculptures in the galleries around town. For art lovers, the joy is in simply wandering the beautiful streets, finding an unusual trinket at a bric à brac stand or popping in and out of the art galleries and shops until you stumble across something that catches your eye.
Visit the Sunday Market in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has a global reputation for antiques and there are over 300 permanent dealers in the town selling antiques and prized artwork. Wander the streets while marvelling at the myriad of artefacts and beautiful carved objects, which owners lay out on tables outside their shops. The Sunday market in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is legendary and is one of the most popular antique markets in the whole of France in terms of visitor numbers. On market day, the roads lining the canals in the town centre are filled with stalls selling ‘brocante’ (antiques). There are also lots of stalls selling local food and drink, so it’s a great market to stroll around while filling your belly.
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has transformed many grand old houses into public buildings, and the 18th-century Maison René Char is now an art museum called Musée Donadéï De Campredon. Set on the canal in a picturesque setting, it exhibits paintings by Dufy, Miró and Mauguin. It also regularly holds smaller exhibitions such as one on photographs taken by American actress Jessica Lange.
Restaurant La Renaissance is a great choice for lunch, particularly if you want to follow it up with a crêpe afterwards. The menu is traditional with delicious salads, aïoli or fresh moules frites (mussels with french fries). Make sure you sit on the terrace (book a table in peak season), from which you can watch the river Sorgue swirl at your side and ducks float past while drinking a glass of wine.
Since 2005, Le Vivier has been ranked consistently highly by its customers in serving great value Michelin-starred food prepared using the very best seasonal produce. At lunchtimes, try the three-course menu for just €34 and sit on the terrace, which has bucolic views over the river.
This boutique hotel, whose name translates as “The House on the River Sorgue”, has four impeccable rooms, a garden and a plunge pool. Breakfast is included in the price and is served on the terrace. The four-star service is attentive and friendly and it’s a stylish base from which to explore this chic little town.