Unlike the neighbouring hilltop villages of the Luberon, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is surrounded by water:
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (Island on the Sorgue) is a commune within the Avignon arrondisement of Vaucluse. Unlike the other hilltop villages of the Luberon, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue sits on flat land. Encircled by the Sorgue River, it is waterways and not panoramic views that is its distinct character. With the many canals and streams crisscrossing the island, it enjoys the nickname of “Venice of Provence”.
Island on the Sorgue
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue got its name from the Sorgue River which meanders its way here from its source at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. This small town was originally a fishing village until the arrival of industry. The many water wheels in the town drove the spinning and weaving industries. The Sorgue River and its tributaries once powered 66 water wheels in the region. Today only 15 remain in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. An enjoyable thing to do is to take a walk around the town and check out the various water wheels. The most magnificent of these is the one at Place Gambetta on the Esplanade Robert Vasse. Heavily laden with moss and definitely showing its age, it spins at a slower pace these days.
A Nice Relaxing Village
Our failure to secure accommodation in Gordes finds us staying in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for a week. As it turns out, it is an ideal base for us as L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is well connected by train and bus to the other communes and villages in the Vaucluse and Apt départment. The town has a relaxed atmosphere, with plenty of cafés and restaurants to enjoy a drink or meal and chill out.
There are no must-see monuments in the commune. However, what L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue lacks in star-rated monuments, it more than makes up for with its lively market days.
There are two lively general market days, on Thursdays and Sundays, with the latter being the bigger market. On Sunday the population of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue explodes with visitors and people from the other Luberon villages who come here to get their supplies. The sprawling Sunday market extends from the Place de la Liberté, down the Rue de la République and along the river front at the southern end of town.
You can buy all kinds of Provencal foods, souvenirs and crafts at the markets. If you happen to be in the town on the first Sunday in August, there is the added bonus of a colourful floating market.
Antique Capital of Provence
The more serious money is at the weekend antique market.
Before our arrival in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, we had no idea of the town’s reputation as an antique haven. There are seven “antique villages” and at the weekend some 300 stalls are in operation. The International Antiques Fair takes place twice a year, at Easter and during the month of August. During the fairs, as many as 500 stalls are present. Antique collectors from all over the world come to buy here.
If you don’t know the word ‘brocante‘ you’ll quickly become familiar with it in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Alongside the antiques are second-hand goods dealers. Even if you’re not intending to buy, it’s worthwhile having a look around. There are some very interesting antique pieces here. We even manage to spot a set of very nice ceiling lights that we liked. Sadly, there is no way of transporting them back. It’s a shame that L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is not the last destination of our trip. We would have been tempted to buy the lights as well as a piece or two of other smaller antique pieces.
A Shopping Destination
With its produce and antique markets, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a good place to enjoy some shopping.
Art lovers will enjoy visiting the many art galleries scattered around town. Each year, the The Campredon Centre d’Art (Maison René Char) presents exhibitions of famous artists. René Char himself was born in this commune. If shopping is not your thing, you can head to the Parc Municipal Gautier and enjoy the open space there.
Eating and Drinking
There are plenty of cafés and restaurants in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Most of the restaurants along the Quai Jean Jaures are geared towards tourists. That said, enjoying a dinner by the riverside is appealing. There are however several restaurants that are in the fine-dining category. We enjoyed meals at the Mistral and Restaurant Umami on Rue Carnot. Others with good reviews include La Prevote, Islo and L’Ecailler.
Where to Stay
We are fortunate in finding a nice and charming apartment right on Place de la Liberté, next to the Café de France. If you’re intending to stay in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue town centre, it’s wise to book ahead. There are not many places available. See L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue accommodation Here.
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has a SNCF station with train connections to Avignon, Cavaillon and elsewhere. It is also possible to visit the neighbouring villages by the local TransVaucluse buses. You just need to time your trips carefully to make sure you have a return trip.
Don’t miss the other Isle-sur-la-Sorgue features at our website:
And get more interesting info about the attractions around L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue by checking out our features:
“Fontaine-de-Vaucluse – the Phenomenal Source of the Sorgue”
“Gordes – Jewel of the Luberon”
“A Walk In The Luberon Countryside With Some Intrepid Travellers”
“Abbaye de Sénanque and its Stunning Lavender Fields”
Please have a look our other videos too, and if you like them, why not subscribe to our Travelsignposts YouTube channel?
“Discover the Source of the Sorgue“,
“A Walk with Emperor Hadrian at Fontaine de Vaucluse“,
“Sorgue Idyll: Emerald Green Waters at Fontaine de Vaucluse”
“Fontaine de Vaucluse: Climb to the Fortress”
“Summer Lavender at Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque”
“From Abbaye de Sénanque to Gordes: A Walk In the Luberon”
“Market Day in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue”
The Luberon Coeur de Provence tourist office has some more details on Isle-sur-la-Sorgue at this link: Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, together with lots of other helpful information about the Luberon region.