Le Bijou - the Gem - is a charming one-bedroom apartment located in L'Isle sur la Sorgue. The town is perfectly situated as a base for excursions throughout Provence. The Mediterranean is one hour south, Mont Ventoux a short drive to the north and many other places of interest in the south of France are easily reached from this location. Le Bijou will be a comfortable and convenient place to serve as a respite after a day of exploring the perched villages, vineyards, Roman ruins and other points of western Provence.
If you intend to visit the region to simply relax and enjoy life in a French village, L'Isle will not disappoint you. On Sundays the streets and squares are alive with vendors and visitors to the town's market. L'Isle sur la Sorgue is the antique capital of the south of France. You will find treasures of every kind daily in the antique shops and on weekends merchants come to display their wares on the sidewalks.
You can idle away the afternoon in the several parks or stroll along the Sorgue where water wheels that once powered mills and factories still turn in the river. Throughout the village are restaurants offering a variety of cuisine. Start your day with coffee and a croissant in the morning sun, and join locals in the shade of a canopy with an afternoon apéritif at one of the cafés and bars along the Sorgue.
The apartment is located on a lively square in the center of town. Boulangeries, patisseries, and cafés are just out the front door. Le Bijou is being completely renovated with the first visitors arriving in September 2012.
L'Isle sur la Sorgue is easily accessible from the A-7 autoroute. The TGV station at Avignon is 25 minutes by car and the Marseilles airport is an easy drive of slightly less than an hour.
We have had the good fortune to have traveled throughout France for vacations for over thirty-five years. Our trips have taken us to most corners of the country, some multiple times. We have toured the canals and rivers of France on small boats, and explored extensively by train and auto. On vacations with our three children we visited the châteaux of the Loire, hit the beaches of Côte d'Azur, walked the streets of Paris, hiked areas of the Alps, and watched the Tour de France. But we fell in love with Provence. You will too if you have not already!
In January of 2012, we stumbled on to this apartment, we have named Le Bijou, in the course of our third visit to L'Isle sur la Sorgue. Having discussed and dismissed the idea of buying property in France numerous times, we changed our minds when this opportunity presented itself on the way back from the boulangerie one morning.
We live in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we both grew up, worked (Patty) and continue to work (Kevin). Down the road, we plan to continue to enjoy exploring France from our base at Le Bijou. We have made friends in the village, which has a life of its own beyond tourism, yet is small enough to walk completely around.
During the times we can't be in France, we welcome guests to enjoy life as a Provençal in Le Bijou in the quaint village of L'Isle sur la Sorgue. We hope one day you can visit.
Kevin and Patty McGoff
In January 2012, we made another visit to L'Isle sur la Sorgue. We loved the location and the people we had met.
Not seriously looking for property, although we had discussed and dismissed the idea many times, we met with several realtors and looked at some places. Nothing struck us. We asked if there were any small apartments with a terrace, a rarity we were advised. We quit having realtors show us property, after being told that finding an apartment with a terrace in the old part of the village was unlikely.
We were content to look at the advertisements in the window of the city’s many realtors,or Immobiliers. We window shopped and daydreamed about the unlikely prospect of finding a suitable apartment, which we never thought we'd buy even if we did find one. But it was fun to look and speculate about the prospect, thumbing through the brochures over a glass of rosé.
On the way back from the boulangerie one morning with our breakfast, as I crossed the lively square in front of the building where we had been staying that week, I noticed for the first time a sign hanging from the window above our rental announcing ‘A Vendre’, for sale. We knew without going in the door that the unit had a terrace as it was just above the patio of the apartment we were renting.
Knowing that one of our requirements was met, we called the realtor and he came with a key that afternoon. The apartment we had been looking for was one flight above us the entire time we were knocking about the city looking at the possibilities, and being discouraged that what we wanted to look at was rare.
The realtor opened the apartment to us 4 times in 5 days. We debated, thought about it, then made the offer over the phone as we boarded the plane in Marseilles to come home.
The village of L'Isle sur la Sorgue was built around the Notre Dame des Anges, a Collegial Church built in 1222 and reconstructed in the 17th century. The Sorgue flows from its source, seven kilometers upstream at the Fountain de Vaucluse. The river surrounds the town, creating the island on the Sorgue.
La Sorgue was the source of the town's commerce through the ages. The Catholic calendar of the 15th century called for in excess of 160 meatless days per year, thus the fisherman and the town thrived providing the papacy and its supporting elements with fish. To this day it is crystal clear, maintains a temperature of 12-13 Celsius (53-55 Fahrenheit) year round and is a category one fishing river.
Mills were constructed and powered by water wheels for grain, paper mills, silk works and production of linens. There were at one time 70 water wheels in the town, 14 of which are still turned by the Sorgue's current.
Today you'll find what is regarded as the best antique market in France outside of Paris. On Sundays, the many antique dealers bring to town their wares to add to the already lively market. There are plenty of fresh fish, fruit and vegetable vendors on the streets and squares in the town on Sunday. Regional products of the season, such as honey and berries, are found along with cheese, sausages and local wines.
The village has a life of its own beyond tourism, which means commerce, restaurants and a market twice a week year round. It is central for day trips in every direction, throughout Provence and beyondL'Isle sur la Sorgue is a vibrant town.
Off-season, when the tourists have gone, the sidewalks do not roll up. There is a large market on Sunday and a smaller one on Thursdays. The antique shops are open and the town fills up with bargain hunters scouring for a find and families picking up fresh produce, meats, fish and fruits for their tables. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and small bars open year round.
Here are some ideas for day trips from Le Bijou to explore the area. We have never been disappointed exploring a new town, having a leisurely lunch or driving around taking in the sights.
The scenic town of Gordes is situated on the edge of the plateau of the Vaucluse. It was featured in the film A Good Year as well as Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. The Cistercian Abbey of Senanque is close by, making a visit to both an easy day trip.
The ruins of the château of the Marquis de Sade are found in Lacoste, atop a hill facing the charming village of Bonnieux. Enjoy the panoramic views from both villages, well worth the rather steep climbs twisting through the streets which are lined with ancient, restored buildings.
The village of Lourmarin is found amidst olive groves and vineyards. It was home to Albert Camus who is buried there. This is a typical Mediterranean town, with shopping and dining options. There is also a castle to visit. It's a very scenic drive through a gorge from Bonnieux.
Mont Ventoux looms over the Vaucluse. It is a legendary stage on the Tour de France. As you drive up the mountain - the average grade on the route leaving the town of Bedoin is nearly 8% - you will wonder how cyclists can make it. You are likely to see plenty, as they challenge Mont Ventoux regularly.
At the Fontaine de Vaucluse is the source of the Sorgue and one of the most visited places in the region. Visit in the morning to beat the crowds. The spring flows from a 230m cliff, visited via a walkway. To this day the source of this forceful spring is a mystery. There is an excellent museum of the French Résistance in WW II.
Arles is 35 km south of Avignon. If you have an interest in Roman artifacts, you will want to visit. There is an amphitheater, baths and a museum. Van Gogh and Gaugin were residents at one time.
The Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) in Avignon is a massive testament to the wealth and power of the Catholic Church in the14th century. The Pont d'Avignon, or Pont de St. Benezet, is the famous bridge that does not reach the other side of the river. Avignon is the largest city in the area and the central part of the town is still within the protective walls.
Gigondas, Châteauneuf du Pape, Vacqueyras and other vineyards of the southern Rhône valley are a short drive from L'Isle sur la Sorgue.
Pernes le Fontaines is a short drive from Le Bijou. There are 40 fountains dispersed throughout the town, hence the name. From the Ferrande tower, experience a spectacular view of the area and Mont Ventoux. If climbing to the top of the tower is not for you, there is a nice park and shaded walkway. We often make the short drive to this village for lunch and a stroll.
You can rent bicycles at a shop just down the street and explore the area on two wheels.
A bit farther afield but definitely a day trip is the Pont du Gard, the famous Roman viaduct. Take your lunch and picnic beneath the arches, or kayak on the river.
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Nov 1 2013 - Dec 31 2015
Payment is usually accepted in the quoted currency (Euro) unless the currency and the amount is specifically agreed in advance with the owner / advertiser.
Learn more about this vacation rental at the owner's website: