Before I stayed in the world’s most idyllic country farmhouse/villa, Le Petit Hôpital, I’d never even heard of the Provençal town of L’Isle sur la Sorgue. But since the house was a mere five minutes down the road from the center of town, it wasn’t long before I discovered this small, watery city’s many delights.
A magnet for outdoor market shoppers since the 1500s (the big market in town still happens every Sunday) and formerly studded with dozens of huge water wheels that provided power for local industries (just a handful of wheels remain), L’Isle sur la Sorgue (which means “island in the Sorgue River) is now one of the most popular places in France for antique shopping. It’s full of gorgeous antique shops, flea-market stands and second-hand stores, as well as a dozen or so riverside restaurants where you can take a leisurely load off with a view of flowers, ducks, and some of the clearest blue-green water you’ll ever see.
There also seem to be wine shops, boulangeries, ice cream shops and courtyard cafes every few steps. Y’know, if you like that sort of thing.
I only spent a couple of afternoons wandering around town, but I’ve thought about it just about every week since. (At this writing, it’s been six months since I was there, in May 2012.) If you have the South of France on your mind, I’d definitely recommend a visit or stay here.