Wednesday, 17 October 2012

History Of Isle De La Sourge

Twenty five miles east of Avignon, between Carpentras and Cavillion in deepest Provence is the must see town of Isle De La Sorgue.  Provenc al  villages are almost without exception pretty places steeped in history going as far back as Roman times and sometimes further and Isle De la Sorgue is no exception.  The locals call it an island city, but island town is nearer  the mark, nestling in the plains of Comtat Venaissin at the foot of the plains of Vaucluse, It is quite a large entity by Provencal standards and is busy all year around. 

The several canals that run through the village are what really define its island character. There are a number of quiet and small streets running  through the village, many with small rivers or streams running through them, it is a delightful  place to walk around with almost every where that soothing sound of running water to calm the senses. There are a number of moss covered wheels which hark back to an earlier time when the power of the river was used in the local industries which were the creating of silk and the manufacture of paper from the verdant forests of the area. This is now no longer the case.


Isle De La Sourge was once a famous cray fishing centre, with a reputed 35,000 crayfish caught each day at its height, but now adays the tourist is king and the shops tend to have local produce, especially olive oil and the local rose wine in abundance, although some crayfish can be found for sale.
Art galleries now abound in the village including the famous Maison  Hotel Donadel de Campredon built in the 18th century, now converted into a museum showing such great artists as Miro, Mauguinand Dufy and a display area dedicated to RenĂ© Char. Isle De La Sorgue is also a renowned centre for antiques with a reputed 300 shops or dealers located in the town.  

The highlight of the antiques season is both the Easter break and 15th August when antiques fairs are held with up to 500 dealers descending on the town.But back to the history, the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame des Angeshas an exceptionally fine Baroque interior and the old pharmacy has an interesting  collection of Moustier faience, whatever that is, I asked some locals but none could explain it, but as it is displayed in a pharmacy it must have some medical application.

Many other pretty village abound in the area, Cavillion is worth a visit as is Carpentras, in fact there are dozens of relatively unknown places to explore in the area.

Getting to the area requires a car.  Public transport is not very well developed and it would otherwise be very difficult to visit the other villages in the area.  The nearest airport is Marseilles which has some international flights and is about 70 kms distant. A little further away is Nice International Airport, which has flights to many UK airports including all 4 London airports, and offers flights daily to New York and Montreal, plus you can fly direct to Moscow and Dubai as well as most provincial French towns and Paris.