If you’re not yet familiar with Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, that’s okay; this place is some kind of a well-guarded secret. Which is somehow paradoxical once you know what the village is famous for.
Located 25 km east of Avignon, between Carpentras and Cavaillon, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is one of those typical places in Provence that one has to see: a square surrounded by cafés and shops that radiate mouth-watering smells and window displays, little bridges to cross, narrow ancient streets where plane trees and green foliage abound, and several large, lovely waterwheels.
So, what makes Isle-sur-la-Sorgue so special from a flea market standpoint – besides its lovely settings? Well, this tiny village with a population of 22,000 souls has one of the highest density of antique dealers and second-hand shops in the world: there is no less than one antique shop for every 70 inhabitants!
Over the past thirty years, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has become the capital city of antiques, thanks to the settlement of nearly 300 permanent antique dealers and second-hand shops in town.
And if that were not enough already, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue hosts a major antique fair twice a year, in spring and summer. The fair (called Foire de l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Antiques Art & You) got started in 1966 with 14 exhibitors, now welcomes over 450 exhibitors (in addition to the 300 permanent antique dealers and second-hand shops), and is one of the biggest antiques and second-hand fair in Europe – some even say that Isle-sur-la-Sorgue forms today, with London and Paris, one of the cardinal points of the “antiques” golden triangle in western Europe. That may be a bit far-fetched, though…
If you manage to fight your way among the 120,000 visitors that flock to the fair twice a year, you should be able to manage to find some pretty Provençal boutis, beautiful ceramics with patina, antique furniture, old crockery, rare finds, and other collectibles and memorabilia from the south of France.
All in all, with half a thousand professional exhibitors and shops, a dozen antique villages organized by topics (contemporary art, antique books, design/decoration…), a charter of quality that puts the event above any suspicion, the antique fair of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is as much Ali Baba’s cave for flea market lovers, as a potential goldmine for antique dealers.