Scouting trip to France: Isle sur la Sorgue.

Lately I’ve been writing a lot about a workshop that I’m helping to plan that will take place in the south of France, near Arles, in fall of 2020.  Well, just this past week I was finally able to get over there to do a little hands-on, boots on the ground sort of scouting of the places that we will be exploring a year from now, just to revisit and reverify their absolute fabulousness.

I can without a doubt now assure you:  The places on our list to see are indeed absolutely fabulous.

And I intend to paint a picture of each lovely location over the next few weeks with pictures and with words, both to cement the memories of being over there in my beloved Provence again and to entice you to want to see this off the beaten path part of France with me!  I mean it when I say that I want others to love it as much as I do.

And thus, I begin the story of our morning in Isle sur la Sorgue, our first stop on last week’s whirlwind trip and a must for next year’s workshop  Ah, Isle sur la Sorgue:  its name means that is an island on the Sorgue river, and if you study a map you will see that this is indeed the case.  The river actually splits in two and goes entirely around this quaint little Provencal town.  However, what the town is really known for has little to do with this lovely geographic feature and more to do with shopping.  This town is known for its weekly market.

The famous market of Isle sur la Sorgue takes place every Sunday, beginning at around 8 to 9ish and continuing for honestly I don’t know how long, but I can attest that it was still going strong well after the magic hour of noon, when most of France comes to a grinding halt for the sacred ritual of lunch.  It was recommended that we get there at 8 in order to more easily find parking, which we did not do since we had arrived after midnight the night before to our house and were quite tired.  We found parking anyway, even with our nearly 10 am arrival after a lot of hunting around, but I’ll take the 8 am advice next time I’m there, if not even earlier.  The market itself is pretty typical: lots of produce, lots of bread, lots of gorgeous cheeses, LOTS of olives.  There are also the booths selling clothes and tablecloths and olive wood products, as well as homemade tapenade and spices.  You can even buy your underwear there if you are thus inclined.  However, the real reason we were there in this little town was for the antiques markets, which we found not in the crowded central area of the market, but rather across the river on the streets surrounding the “isle”.

And oh, what antiques markets we found!  18th century armoires, rich with a patina of time and multiple layers of paint awaited us, along with chandeliers and mirrored dressing tables and so much more.  We also found shops selling smaller bits of old stuff:  boxes filled with old tins and glove molds and vintage buttons… the list goes on.  They will happily (for a fee, bien sur) ship whatever treasure you find, we were assured over and over.  I promise you that between my friend and I we could have filled a container of treasures to send home to Atlanta!

We didn’t, though, not this time at least.  We brought home instead only photographs, which I will happily share with you now.

One of many waterwheels on the river that embraces this little town.
The interior courtyard of a large antiques market.
One of many gorgeous old armoires that really, really belong in my house.
Glove molds.
Buttons!  Everyday objects can be so beautiful.
My charming travel companion, lost in ephemera.
Church interior.  It was only as we were leaving the building that I saw the sign telling me that it was forbidden to take photos… oops.
The colors!
Side street, Isle sur la Sorgue.
This year’s lavender harvest.  You’d better believe a bag of them came home with me.
Another purloined church photo.
Yes please.  I’ll take some of each.
The first of many cafes we would encounter named after Vincent.
I mean, come on.  How is a town this beautiful?
Le pain quotidien.
Do I need to explain this?  Why else does one come to France, after all?

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