By Hannah Noye
Bonjour! Let’s travel together to one of the locations that we visit in both of our tours, La Belle Vie tour, and A taste of France Tour. Known as France’s Venice, the town of L’isle sur La Sorgue is a small and quintessentially French town of warm toned buildings, summer flowers, and quaint bridges crossing the canals that weave throughout. It rests in the Vaucluse region of France in Provence, not far from Avignon, and is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, meaning summers are warm and cheerful, and winters are mild.
The towns Sunday flea markets are what the village is most celebrated for, drawing tourists and locals alike. The charming atmosphere and picturesque setting of the town is only enhanced by the market stalls set up on the banks of the Sorgue River. Cheerful tourists mill between stalls offering everything from antiques, vintage items, collectibles, hand-made soaps, as well as classic provincial cheese, wine, and desserts. The market is considered of the largest of its kind within Europe, and its notable range of antiques and vintage items attracts many collectors.
The market, also known as the "brocante" (antique market), is believed to have originated in the early 20th century, when dealers and collectors from Paris would travel to the small town to buy and sell antiques and collectibles. During World War II, many Parisians were forced to flee the city and those who moved to L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue brought with them their furniture and other household items. Many of them began selling their belongings at the Sunday market leading to the eclectic style of offerings it is famous for!
Imagine waking at a classically French bed & breakfast to the beautiful sound of the cicadas and the joie de vivre classic of the French in knowing that their is no rushed day awaiting you, but one of ease and relaxation. We will then spend a wonderful summer morning strolling the cobblestone streets, trying various provincial foods, and perusing the variety of the market. Imagine the sun on your back, the cheerful chatter of the crowd slowly moving, and the smell of lavender in the air – by virtue of being in Provence, of course dried lavender, or lavender infused products such as soaps and candles are bountiful within the market!
Imagine also, the numerous water wheels scattered throughout the river. The river Sorgue is fed by several smaller streams and springs in the surrounding area. The town's economy has historically been largely reliant on its waterwheels which have been used for centuries to power local industries such as paper mills and textile factories. The biggest source of water for the Sorgue comes from La Fontaine de Vaucluse, a spring located in a limestone cave in the Vaucluse Mountains. This is the largest spring in France, and notably of the most powerful in the world! The water from the spring is crystal clear and is used for irrigation, as well as for the production of bottled water. This spring has been celebrated in literature and art, and is famous for inspiring the famous poet Petrarch, and the French troubadours.
There is a deep sense of connectivity to be felt in places such as these. Australia is a beautiful country with its own deep and unique history, and it is well documented that the nomadic nature of the Indigenous Australians means there was little need for architectural monuments or buildings, and so it is not common to see especially old buildings in our home country. This is of course is part of the appeal of Australia, in that it's spirit is most connected to through the land itself. However there is something equally moving to see structures and monuments that have been integral and traditional parts of communities for years and years, and are still functioning today, and hold within them a longstanding story. Not only are they of a whimsical and picturesque beauty, but they are, in the case of the water wheel, representative of the French character and people as they adapted to the French landscape. It is a fascinating thing to see the water wheel continuing to turn and work for the town of L’Isle sur la Sorgue even today!
To come and enjoy the charming atmosphere and beauty of L’Isle sur la Sorgue and all it has to offer, check out our tours below.
We hope to see you there!
À la prochaine !