Provence Feature


Treasure Hunting

On a Sunday morning in the middle of the high season, l'Isle sur la Sorgue is assuredly the busiest place in France. Idle tourists fill the caf├ęs, the squares buzz with eager conversations, and the more serious market strollers adjust reading glasses and study notebooks crammed with hastily jotted remarks. All this anticipation is with good reason: this is the antiques mecca of the region.

Dealers began settling here in the 1960s and slowly acquired a reputation; these days there are an estimated 300 concentrated in picturesque booths along the main streets. Merchandise ranges from high-quality antiques and garden statuary to quirky collectibles, while the buyers could be big-name designers or first-time visitors with more money than sense. Beware, the dealers know how to sniff out the unprepared and the unwary: do not hesitate to bargain. There are also architectural salvage specialists offering old zinc bars, bistro fittings, and hotel reception booths. Should you succumb, there are transport firms to ship your chosen items around the world.

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