L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is famous for it’s antiques, and brocante. Its Sunday market attracts tourists and professional dealers from all over Europe. Still a working town with a village atmosphere, it is also called the “Venice of Provence” due to its water canals.
Once a major industrial town, water wheels were built and powered by the fast flowing River Sorgue to power machinery producing silk, wool and corn. In 1855, records show that close to 300 workers were employed in 17 silk and wool mills in the town, with more than 60 Water Wheels operating. Today 14 water wheels survive, and they add charm to modern L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Most water wheels were established by royal decree in the early 1800s, although most of the remaining water wheels are on the river or canal that form the central island, the “Partage des Eaux” wheel is about 1 kilometer to the east. Partage des Eaux is where the river divides into two arms. But this is no accidental dividing of the waters. In fact, the partage des eaux is based on a decree of 27 March 1852, enacted by Napoléon III. This decree specified that 5/12 of the water would go to one direction and 7/12 to the other, with the two branches called the Velleron and the L’Isle.
Crayfishing was also very important in the past, with some records showing 35,000 crayfish were farmed each day from the Sorgue.
Visit this stunning town on any one of our Villa Maison Tours, or stay nearby in one of our accommodation options.