A walk through L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Provence

After days of exploring teeny villages and hamlets with just a handful of streets, driving into L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was a bit of a shock to the system. It’s a proper town, with the hustle and bustle (and traffic) to go with it. It’s famous for its Sunday morning antiques market (I think it’s the country’s biggest antiques market outside of Paris), but as we’re not really into our antiques, we decided to skip the crowds and head over on a Saturday instead.

lisle-sur-la-sorgue

The town is built on a network of canals, hence its nickname, the Venice of Provence. They encircle the old town, with a few threading through the middle of it, too. Dozens of cafes and restaurants line the banks and the bridges…

Canal-bridge-restaurant-L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Canal-L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

We stopped for a café crème first, before taking ourselves on a little walking tour around the town. We started by delving into the ancient lanes that weave through the old town.

Canal-houses-L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

There are plenty of shops here, including some fantastic independent delis and cheese shops (and a L’Occitane – it is Provence, after all). As you’d expect for somewhere that hosts a famous antiques market, there’s a strong collection of second-hand and antique shops (hundreds, apparently), but you’ll find the majority of them outside the old town, on the other side of the canal.

epicerie-l'isle-sur-la-sorgue food-shop-l'isle-sur-la-sorgue fromagerie-l'isle-sur-la-sorgue

After exploring the lanes, we found ourselves back on the banks of the main canal, which we followed almost the entire way around the island. As we got to the northern edge, the cafes, restaurants and crowds thinned out, until we were the only ones strolling along the waterside beneath the plane trees.

Canal-in-L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue-Provence

Paddling-in-canal-L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Smiling through the pain…

The water is Evian-clear and looks incredibly inviting (especially on a stifling hot day), so I stopped to dip a toe in. I wouldn’t recommend it. The water springs from the ground at the Fontaine de Vaucluse just a few kilometres away, and so maintains a toe-numbing 13-degree temperature pretty much year round. Brr.

Every so often, we came across one of the town’s huge water wheels, rusting and covered in spongy moss. A couple of them still work, although they don’t actually ‘do’ anything any more. But beside most of them, you’ll be able to spot a grand mansion that would’ve been the home of wealthy merchants back when L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was big on silk and paper production.

Water-wheel-L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue-waterwheel

The walk around took about an hour, with plenty of dawdling and photo stops. If you’re not fussed about the antique shopping, you could easily see the best bits of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in a morning or afternoon.

I wish we’d have thought to go into the town for dinner one evening, as I imagine it would be lovely to dine alongside the canal as the sun sets. Maybe next time…

 


City Walk Giveaway

Thanks to the team at GPSmyCity app, I’ve got 20 free downloads of their self-guided walking tours to give away. There are loads to choose from in dozens of towns and cities around the world – including some in Avignon and Aix if you’re planning a trip to Provence. Just take a look at their website for the full list and pick the one you fancy, then let me know what you’d like in the comments.

Until 17th February, they’re also running a crowdfunding campaign which means you can also get a lifetime membership to the app for just $60. So you pay once and can download as many different walks and travel articles as you like, forever! Find out more here.

How to enter: All you need to do is leave a comment on this post – it’s that simple! Each code will be for London (my beloved home city), unless you let me know in the comment that you’d prefer a different city. Don’t forget to state whether you’d like it for iOS or Android.

Terms & conditions: Competition closes Friday 17th February. Codes will be sent to winners by email after closing. Codes are valid for 28 days (this is the code only, not the app – once downloaded, the app is valid forever).

24 Comments

  • Reply Nancy January 28, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks for this post, we have been thinking about traveling through the small villages in France. L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue looks like a great location for a home base too. Even though the Evian river is only 13 degrees I think I would stick my toes in it too!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      It’s hard not to on a hot summer’s day ;-).

  • Reply Silvia January 28, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Had never heard of this place before, but it looks exactly like the type of towns I love. Will be adding it to my list!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Hope you make it one day!

  • Reply Lara Dunning January 29, 2017 at 2:58 am

    I’ve never heard of this town, but it looks lovely, and even though you mentioned more people and traffic, it doesn’t look overwhelmed with commotion. I could lounge at cafe eating cheese and drinking wine and watching the water.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Yes, there were definitely busy parts but lots of quiet places you could escape to – and even the busy parts were nothing like Aix or the bigger cities!

  • Reply Lauren Craving Sunshine January 29, 2017 at 7:20 am

    I really need to explore France! I’ve only ever been to Calais….and that was on the ferry! This town is picture perfect. I can just picture myself sat at one of those streetside cafes sipping something cold on a hot sunny day.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Ah yes I’d definitely recommend exploring more! I have been to Calais many a time, although usually it was onny to go to the hypermarket to pick up all the cheap wine 😉

  • Reply Paul January 29, 2017 at 11:56 am

    This looks like a charming little town. I love those little deli shops with all the different cheeses they have to offer! Can’t wait to properly explore France one day!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Yes, all the lovely cheeses! And breads. And charcuterie. And honey… *drools into keyboard*

  • Reply Eena January 29, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    This is just a magical place!!! And ahhh I will definitely go there once I go back to Europe. Thank you so much for introducing this! Such a wonderful one. 🙂

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      You’re welcome!

  • Reply Skye Gilkeson January 30, 2017 at 2:45 am

    Ah this post makes me want to pack my bags for Provence. What a gorgeous little town. You couldn’t possibly get more French. Lovely piece.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      Thanks Skye 🙂

  • Reply Bethanny Sudibyo January 30, 2017 at 6:46 am

    I love reading about small towns in France, because I believe that there is more to the country than Paris. I thought it was amusing that you described the water as Evian-clear. It must be super clean then? I’ve never been to London, but wouldn’t mind a self guide walking tour for that.

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Haha, it looked pretty clean to me! Plus, it only comes out of the ground a few kilometres away. No problem, I will get you a code for the London guide 🙂

  • Reply Karla at GlobalETA January 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    How charming! I love all of the greenery and the canal. It would be so sweet to meander around the town for a morning, it looks so relaxing. Love the photos!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      So relaxing, especially the quieter parts of the canal where you could just sit a while on the banks and take it all in.

  • Reply Venkat Ganesh January 30, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    That looks like such a cute little town. Looks like a perfect place to wake up head to the quirky little cafe for breakfast, go for a walk (inspite of the traffic) and then have some lunch with a glass of wine and just spend the afternoon people watching.

    Greatp pictures too!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 4, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks Venkat! Definitely, it’s the perfect place for a little walking and a lot of food 😉

  • Reply Lauren G February 4, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Looks very quaint! I can imagine myself having a coffee or a glass of wine at one of those outdoor cafes. If possible could my code be for Paris? Thanks!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 21, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      Of course, I will get your code sent out asap 🙂

  • Reply Karen February 4, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Provence looks so gorgeous. I’m planning a visit in the near future, so will save this!

    • Laura
      Reply Laura February 21, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks Karen!

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