Isle sur la Sorgue, "The Little Venice of Provence"
A little bit of history
During the XII century, Isle sur la Sorgue was far from being the centre point of many Provence walking and cycling holidays. It was a small fishing village with houses built on stilts over the swamps and marshlands. The waters were home to otters, beavers, eels, trout and crayfish and fishing was the main industry. Then, during the XVII and XVIII centuries, drapery, silk and wool mills were built along the waterfront and at its peak, Isle had 70 waterwheels and was on par with Avignon for Provence’s textile centre.
The animals have long gone, the mills stand empty and the waterwheels that still turn today keep the memory of that flourishing time alive. Nowadays, Isle has transformed itself once again to become a thriving tourist destination. A veritable island of a village, the presence of the clear and shallow waters of the Sorgue river are at every turn. Numerous canals flow through the centre with small pedestrian bridges painting a beautiful picture, one reminiscent of a famous Italian city. So similar in fact that Isle sur la Sorgue is known affectionately as the “Little Venice of Provence.”
What to see
The hive of activity is along the waterfront where many restaurants and cafés have well positioned tables and chairs offering stunning views of the water and families of ducks! Isle is also world famous for is antique dealers and art galleries. The pavements are covered with their treasures & you can spend hours browsing, looking for that one off find, a little souvenir to take home. We highly recommend a stroll through the narrow back streets of the old town where the crowd thins out and the beautiful mansions and houses date back to the XVIII century.
The famous Sunday market of l'Isle sur la Sorgue
Isle sur la Sorgue is famous for its Sunday morning market: The strip along the water front and the back streets are filled with colourful stalls selling fresh vegetables and fruit, local produce & crafts, clothes and more. A delightful Provençal market. It’s busy, loud and crowded but one of the best in Provence and not to be missed ! Many of our clients add an extra day to their trip to take the time to discover this wonderful little town. It’s just such a nice place to be, an ideal resting point on your self-guided walking or cycling holiday.
Isle : the perfect base for a walking or cycling tour in Provence.
Provence walking tours
Isle sur la Sorgue is a central point for many of our self-guided walking holidays. The town itself offers a wide choice of accommodation ranging from simple to charming and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining. A short transfer by taxi will take you to Fontaine de Vaucluse and from there, you walk on through the perched villages of the Lubéron and the Senanque Abbey and lavender fields.
Provence cycling tours
We offer self-guided cycling holidays and short cycling breaks where you start off and end up back in Isle sur la Sorgue. The cycle paths are quiet and off the beaten track and will take you to through the cherry orchards of Venasque to the most beautiful and colourful perched villages of the Luberon. You can also peddle your way through one of the best wine regions on a Provence wine tour in Chateauneuf du Pape.
Train : regular train lines from Paris, Avignon, Arles
Marseille airport : direct train lines from Marseille airport