La Maison Sur La Sorgue

L'Isle-sur-La-Sorgue, Provence, France Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
A grand house in the middle of this famous market town with lovely big rooms and a pool in the courtyard
L’Isle-sur-La-Sorgue is a beautiful old mill town encircled by a network of canals. These days it's best known for its Sunday antiques market (one of the biggest in Europe), but originally it made its name making clothes for the Popes of Avignon. Plague swept through in 1628, followed by the Revolution in 1793, when the town was sacked. As a result much of the architecture dates to the early 19th century.

This grand old townhouse stands bang in the thick of things. Church bells chime around the corner, the market weaves past directly outside. Inside, you find old stone walls, fine arched doorways, statues of eastern deities sitting on the stairs and a handsome first-floor sitting room. A cavernous kitchen/dining room opens onto an equally enormous courtyard, which comes with a small swimming pool. Best of all are the gigantic rooms and suites. They’re not cheap, but they deliver in spades: bold décor, free-standing tubs, super-comfy beds and oodles of romance.

Highs

  • The big courtyard has a decked pool - an unexpected treat in town
  • The stylish rooms are huge, plus one has an enormous terrace which overlooks the market sqaure
  • The pretty old town is famous for its Sunday antiques market and is ringed by water
  • You can tuck into delicious 3-course breakfasts
  • Its shop, Retour de Voyage, sells a host of treasures from the owners' travels, including books, art and furnishings

Lows

  • The rooms are expensive for a B&B, but in a hotel you’d pay double
  • TVs are available on demand only, so ask for one if you’re going to want it
  • You’re in the middle of the old town so expect a little noise. You may be woken early on market days (Thursday and Sunday) by sellers setting up their stalls
  • Most restaurants close on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in low season

Best time to go

The end of the week is busier than the beginning, with the food market on Thursday mornings and the antiques market on Sunday, so if you want to join in the fun, come then. You can punt on the canals in summer. At the end of July, the town celebrates the Festival of La Sorgue, when fishermen joust on boats on the river. The Avignon Festival (mid-July to early August) is 15km up the road. Finally, the town has some excellent restaurants, but they tend to close on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in low season, so bear this in mind when planning your stay.

Our top tips

L’Isle-sur-La-Sorgue is pretty enough with its markets, canals and old town, but there's not much to it, and even if you’re going to use it as a base from which to explore Avignon, Menerbes and Mont Ventoux, 2-3 nights here would be enough.

Great for...

Family
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4
  • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

There are 2 suites and 2 vast rooms at La Maison, all on the second floor. The suites have separate sitting rooms, but their bedrooms aren't as large as the ordinary rooms (which aren’t ordinary). On the whole we preferred the rooms for the greater sense of space.

Ours - Room with a View - was the simplest of the lot, though ‘simple’ is hardly the word to describe what you find here. It's positively cavernous, its ceiling open to A-frame beams, with views to the front over a narrow street. There are lilac walls, coir matting, an enormous armchair for 2 and a four-poster bed wrapped up in crisp white linen. The bathroom is equally smart - and big enough for 2 separate sinks plus a claw-foot bath.

Room on a Loggia is even more impressive: equally enormous with a beamed ceiling sloping down to French windows that open onto a delightful covered balcony, which stretches along the side of the house and overlooks the courtyard - absolute bliss.

The Attic Suite is spread over 2 floors. Climb the stairs and find a glorious bathroom built of American hardwood. Its private terrace holds a couple of sun loungers, while back inside the sitting room and bedroom come in neutral colours.

We didn’t see the Shadow Suite, which overlooks the market square; from what we hear though, it’s as stylish as the rest of the rooms.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Radio
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

In good weather, breakfast is served at a big table in the courtyard. Otherwise, you eat at separate tables in the enormous kitchen/dining room. Tables are laid with much style: clean white rectangular crockery (which you can buy in your host’s shop) that sits on smart slate tablets. You get cold meats and delicious cheese, small bowls of fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice, then a sack brimming with small baguettes, croissants and pains au chocolat. There’s tea and coffee, a pot of yoghurt, even the morning paper.

Seasonal Provençal cuisine is served by arrangement for parties of 6 or more. You might get chestnut soup with grated chocolate, squid salad with pistachio nuts, filet mignon with freshly cooked apples, a plate of local cheeses, then a tarte tatin with a Vervennes jelly.

The town has a couple of excellent restaurants. Number one is Le Vivier, which just about everyone in Provence mentioned to us. It’s got a Michelin star and the elegant interiors match beautiful food. Those with a hearty appetite may want to check out the 7-course gourmand menu. If you want something simpler, try L’Industrie for good pizza or Café de La Sorgue, a busy brasserie which overlooks the water.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • L’Isle-sur-La-Sorgue is home to one of Europe’s biggest antiques markets. It takes place every Sunday - about 350 stalls wind through the narrow streets of the old town and spill out across the water, and it’s even bigger at Easter. Some brocantes shops are open all year round, but tend to close on Mondays and reopen on Thursdays. There's a food market on Thursdays
  • Punt along the river in summer. Come at the end of July and watch the town celebrate the Festival of La Sorgue, when fishermen joust on boats on the water, an ancient tradition that determines who will be crowned king of the river
  • Avignon is close. You can drop in for a day of culture, visit the Papal Palace, walk to the end of its famous bridge or enjoy its annual festival (mid-July to early August) for theatre, opera, classical music, exhibitions and lectures set against the backdrop of its spectacular architecture
  • Visit the wine fields of the Dentelles: head north to Beaumes-de-Venise and taste its remarkable Muscat (best served with a plate of foie gras). The area stretches from Carpentras in the south to Vaison-La-Romanie in the north - a small area, but one that rewards those who visit. You’ll find beautiful mountain villages, hills to climb and fantastic views. Chateauneuf du Pape is close, too, but there’s a greater sense of discovery here and fewer tourists
  • Head up Mont Ventoux, the iconic mountain of Provence. Every other year the Tour de France climbs up it - Lance Armstrong did so in 55 minutes, which is simply ridiculous (ordinary humans take a day!). Views from the top stretch to Nice and Mont Blanc. If you come, it's worth ascending from Bedoin in the south and descending to the north, as this is how the cyclists do it
  • Provence is a wonderfully diverse and beautiful region, with lots more to see and do. For more of our favourites, see our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Kayaking
  • Language courses
  • Museums / galleries
  • Rafting
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Tennis coaching

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome. Take over the whole place if you're coming en masse - it's worth it! That said, some little ones might find the location too tranquil.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can fit a baby cot and extra bed.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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