Foire de l’Isle sur la Sorgue

The International Fair for Art and Antiques of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is one of the biggest antiques and second-hand fair in Europe and a potential goldmine for antique dealers.

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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.

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5 reviews

  1. We have visited Isle sur la Sorgue for almost 20 years, to search for fine
    antiques, and it used to be excellent for finding “real” French antique items at realistic prices…but no more…the remaining “antique shops” (many have closed or moved) are now so high priced for the “real” antiques, or full of metal cabinets & oddball stuff, or brand new long “farm” tables, or full of totally new “decorator” items….it is depressing. The dealers don’t want to “wholesale” their items as they say it is “so difficult to buy good items these days”, or they want to maximize their profit by only selling to the high end retail customers!!

  2. No need to drive here specifically for antiques, as the antique shops along the market route are open every day. I didn’t find any prices on the street that were “bargins” and worth the effort to get there on Sunday. There is a fabulous antique linen shop tucked in the corner Avenue de L’Egalite and D901 (behind the BNP Paribas) where I found a full linen set (table cloth and 12 napkins) with embroidered initials.

  3. L’isle Sur La Sorgue is a wonderful market experience, the stalls thronging around the streams and through the narrow streets create a fabulous atmosphere. Parking is a little challenging but not impossible. It has a great selection of local produce- fruit, bread, mussels or delicious spit roasted chickens, souvenirs, shoes, cute tee shirts, and cloths: it offers a plethora of opportunities but antiques? There is not quite the same wealth of fabulous irresistible treasures. Possibly good for large furniture pieces from 18th century to 1970’s and even chic modern stuff, even oil paintings and there is at least one light fitting that has been there so long it has a bird’s nest. But after my one visit on a Sunday when the shops were open, I wonder who got so excited about the antiquities…not someone looking for a special local aged delight that would fit in the airplane luggage. Some of the most interesting stalls had been in the Place Pie in Avignon on Thursday… with the same stock!

  4. As an antiques enthusiast, I was really looking forward to visiting. However, I was disappointed…the main market would be wonderful if you live there or are self catering as the food stalls are fabulous. True, there is an abundance of antique shops in there own small ‘villages’. Again, if you live there and are furnishing a house or are an antique dealer on a buying trip then it would be great but if you’re a tourist looking to buy something to take back to your home country then forget it. Nice to look round but I wouldn’t make the trip there had I known beforehand what it was like. In terms of the main market (which is food and clothing) and do not like shuffling along at snails pace in a huge crowd then avoid. Also, the waterwheels and waterways whilst nice, cannot be fully appreciated as you cannot really see them due to the crowds.

  5. Isle-sur-la-sorgue is an Antiques Village, built on the banks of the Sorgue, well organized and patronized like the legendary Parisian markets of Saint-Ouen. With half a thousand professionals (exhibitors and shops), distributed in the Quai de la Gare, Le Village des Antiquaries de la Gare (100 exp. in 2 floors), Le Hotel Dongier Antiquites (30 exp.), Rives de Sorgue (20 exp.) Le Passage du Pont, La Cour and more places. This village is a dream for antique lovers!

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