I is for L’Isle Sur La Sorgue (and a bit of shopping)

I’m currently counting down until my next visit to the Luberon and planning a first day’s cycle to L’Isle Sur La Sorgue to make sure I get there in time for breakfast in the delightful Café De France, where I can sit and watch the bustle of the Sunday market setting up around me.

Classical old frontage of Cafe De France, L'Isle sur la Sorgue

Classical old frontage of Cafe De France, L’Isle sur la Sorgue

The town is always worth visiting at any time of year with the narrow streets of the old town set on an island encircled by the clear & gently flowing waters of the River Sorgue, but on market days (like so many other towns in the area) it really comes to life.

An old stone ear in the river (normally covered in coins - a wishing ear perhaps??)

An old stone ear in the river (normally covered in coins – a wishing ear perhaps??)

The general market is held on a Thursday morning and again on a Sunday, when the whole town explodes not only with the bright market stalls, but with a huge array of antiques and brocante stalls too. Over the years we have come to love the town and always time our visits to coincide with the Sunday markets and I’ve now got used to the look of horror on my sons’ faces whenever I suggest we cycle there – apparently it isn’t their idea of a fun day out ( I can’t for the life of me think why!!!)

One of the typical brocante stalls L'Isle sur La Sorgue

One of the typical brocante stalls L’Isle sur La Sorgue

The town is renowned for its antiques and is home to nearly 300 antique and brocante units, which open over the weekends to coincide with the market. Sundays are a great time to wander through the stalls and let your imagination run riot with what you could do with some of the items for sale. Many are simply decorative, such as the old boules or enamel signs…..

Wonderful collection of enamel signs, Brocante Market L'Isle sur La Sorgue

Wonderful collection of enamel signs, Brocante Market L’Isle sur La Sorgue

…….whilst others offer much more creative opportunities, such as the old flour sacks or the stunning hand-embroidered crisp white linens (I often find myself wishing I had the time to make something with them).

We do have a history of buying bits at the market that now adorn our home, even if sometimes the purchases have not been the easiest ( previous blog – https://vauclusedreamer.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/impulse-buys-and-airports-dont-mix/).

Our rather heavy scales purchase that caused chaos in Marseille Airport

Our rather heavy scales purchase that caused chaos in Marseille Airport

The town also hosts massive international antiques fairs twice a year (Easter and August- http://www.foire-islesurlasorgue.com has more info ) when approximately 500 stalls take over the town & its main park – an event I haven’t yet managed to visit, but looking at the dates I may sneak a visit in August whilst we are there on holiday (perhaps best not to mention it to the boys yet!!)

Old silk thread bobbins in the Brocante

Old silk thread bobbins in the Brocante

Last summer whilst we were there we also stumbled on a craft market that was being held on the first Saturday of the month from April to September until 7 in the evening– I’m not sure if it is being held again this year, but it was nice to see some local crafts on sale – everything from metalwork, jewellery, clothing to lovely games made from local pebbles.

Noughts and crosses with a twist - craft market L'Isle sur La Sorgue

Noughts and crosses with a twist – craft market L’Isle sur La Sorgue

There are also a couple of my favourite shops in the town, not big department stores or high street regulars, but quirky, individual shops that encourage you in and sell unusual and stylish homewares and I often find a little something comes home with me.

A line of welly-dogs encouraging you towards one of the local craft shops

A line of welly-dogs encouraging you towards one of the local craft shops

The first is ‘Cote Parc’, located on the main road through the town and it is hard to miss as some of its stock is displayed on the street and often includes replica giraffes, crocodiles or similar. It stocks a range of antique wares from signs and lamps to ‘pastis’ glasses, but also new and stylish products that would grace any ‘shabby-chic’ interior. It is an easy shop to spend time pottering around, looking for that perfect piece that you know would look great at home and I could spend a small fortune here every time I go through the door. ( http://www.coteparc.com/ for more info)

The shop-front Cote Parc

The shop-front Cote Parc

Rear terrace of Cote Parc, overlooking the river

Rear terrace of Cote Parc, overlooking the river

Items for sale outside Cote Parc - I found this clock hard to resist

Items for sale outside Cote Parc – I found this clock hard to resist

The other shop, Fauque Beyret is in the main square, just along from the Café de France and has probably the most stunning shop-front I have ever come across. It looks as if it hasn’t been touched since the turn of the last century and is typical of the ‘Belle Epoque’ – it looks frozen in time (although you can see that in places inside time is taking its toll). Inside there are always delightful and individual homewares, displayed against what appears to be the original fabric of the building, including old wall-coverings. When so many shops have been renovated or restored it is lovely just to spend time here and get a taste of a time gone by.

Belle-epoque frontage of Fauque Beyret

Belle-epoque frontage of Fauque Beyret

Aside from these particular favourites, L’Isle sur La Sorgue is a perfect place to potter around, the narrow streets are filled with delightful small shops that offer and eclectic mix of items from strikingly large pieces of modern design to individual crafts. There are plenty of places to sit and relax over a coffee, letting your feet recover before starting again and the day can be rounded off perfectly with a meal at one of the many restaurants that have terraces overlooking the river.

Detail from a shop window

Detail from a shop window

A chair upholstered with a French Rugby shirt outside a shop in the main square

A chair upholstered with a French Rugby shirt outside a shop in the main square

Soaps in zinc buckets - even the everyday objects are presented with style

Soaps in zinc buckets – even the everyday objects are presented with style

OK it may not be the perfect day out for teenage boys, but I can’t think of a better place to go shopping for that little something that is just a bit different.

Jewellery from upcycled old silver cutlery

Jewellery from upcycled old silver cutlery

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