markets in Provence

Old Jun 18th, 2008, 08:49 AM
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markets in Provence

I was told that markets in Provence are must-see events in the region. Can anyone tell me how good the Sunday market in L'isle-Sur-La-Sorgue is compared with others, like the one in St. Remy?

We plan to visit Normandy and Provence in this trip. If we go to Provence (5 days) first, we'll there on a Sunday to see the market. But I just found out there is a non-stop train going from Rennes to Avignon meaning that it's easier to do the itinerary in reverse (Normandy first). For some reasons, there is no non-stop train from Avignon to Rennes - It is either connecting in Massy or Paris. I wonder if the Sunday market in L'isle-Sur-La-Sorgue is so good that we should make a special effort to be there in spite of the less convenient train journey.

If we go to Normandy first, we'll be in Provence from Monday thru Friday. What may be a good substitute to the L'isle-Sur-La-Sorgue market in the area?

Thanks for any advice.

Winnie
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 09:03 AM
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I don't consider the Ile-sur-la-Sorgue market to be anything particularly special. It used to be you could find some good deals on antiques there, but not any more. And apart from that, it's just a market like any other in Provence or any other part of France.

I think the Wednesday market in St-Rémy pretty much covers everything you'd ever want to see in a provençal market. Or even the Thursday one in Maussane, though it's smaller.
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 09:29 AM
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I thought the market in L'isle Sur-La-Sorgue was quite extensive. We caught the tail end of the market in St. Remy and it was good but I think the Sunday market in I'isle was more interesting. It's especially good if you have a interest in antiques.

There were some great bargains on shoes at the Sunday market in L'isle. I found they had a little bit of everything. Arrive early if you're going to go. We were there just after 9am and left by 11:30am. It was very crowded when we left and the parking was a mile and a half down the road. We managed to get a spot a stones throw from the market at 9:00am.

I'm not sure I would change my travel plans around it.. but if you'll be there on a Sunday, I thought it was a fun market.

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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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St Cirq is correct that the market in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue while huge and fun is nothing unique unless you are into antiques (however overpriced they may be). If you are into antiques, it is nice to be able to browse the many shops open all week-end, easily combined with visiting the market.

The markets in Apt or Aix are at least as big and comprehensive as I-s-l-s, without the antiques.

I'm personally kind of partial to the Wednesday market in Sault - a required visit especially when the lavender is blooming. And also the Friday market in Lourmarin, which is a nice size (not too overwhelming).

All that to say I wouldn't go around altering your plans too much just to catch the I-s-l-s market. You'll be well served with one or two others in any case...

-Kevin
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 10:47 AM
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I think most of the markets throughout France are pretty similar, as least the ones I've been to. Some are bigger and have more, sure. But I didn't think the Isle sur la Sorgue market was anything special at all, and would not go out of my way to go to it. If you intend to do serious antique shopping, you might want to go there, but that's separate from the other kind of market they have (general brocante).

Paris is the general direction and hub for a lot of train travel in France. There aren't hardly any nonstop trains in France at all, except between very short distances. Even TGV trains from Paris to Avignon usually have a couple stops (Lyon and Valence). I think perhaps you mean you wanted a direct train, not nonstop.

I doubt that there is a nonstop train between Rennes and Avignon, but there are a few direct ones, which is actually surprising given they are in such different areas and not on an obvious direct rail line.

There are direct trains between Avignon and Rennes, also, so you didn't see all the schedules. Perhaps there wasn't one at a time or day you wanted. There is one about 3-4 pm, for example, on Saturdays, and another one around noon on Sunday. It will definitely have stops (eg, Valence, Lyon, Massy, Le Mans, Laval, etc.). The direct train from Rennes to Avignon also has 4-5 stops, the same ones.
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 02:09 PM
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Christina - Yes. I meant to say direct train. I checked the schedule again, and it's rare that while there is a direct train running on Sunday, there is none on Tuesday (Aug 12) when we plan to travel. Don't know why.

Thanks for everyone for your ideas. It is always to get advice from those who have been there.

Winnie
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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 03:08 PM
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I think for the first-timer - the market in l'Isle sur la Sorgue is the most interesting & varied in France - bric-a-brac, serious antiques, Provence fabric, food, Provence soap, ceramics, cafts, etc. It's also a lovely village with some good "permanent" shops that my wife was able to spend a few Euros in. We spend about 2 months in various regions in France each year, and the market in l'Isle sur la Sorgue is still my wife's favorite because of the antiques, crafts, fabric, and soap.

When I'm looking for food - there are better markets in the region - like Carpentras & Aix - just to name a few.

IMO, Provence has the best markets for tourists (close second is the Dordogne). Perhaps my favorite market is in Caussade - just south of the Dordogne - but tourists don't travel through that area often.

Stu Dudley

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Old Jun 18th, 2008, 11:36 PM
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Having returned from a week's stay 2 months ago in Provence, I can offer the following advice :

We were in Isle sur la Sorgue on a day when there was no market and it is a lovely little town, we enjoyed walking around, visiting the small shops, etc. Definitely worth a stop but don't know about the market.

We spent 3 nights in St. Remy and arrived on a Wednesday morning = market day. It was a mess. First of all, because of the market we could not drive to our B&B without circumventing all sorts of streets which were closed. It was quite a procedure. But aside from that, the market was filled with what I consider the most junkiest hideous items that I could imagine. I was SOOOO disappointed. I had read so much about this market and was looking forward to it.

Another thing - if you visit any city on market day you will miss seeing the city as it truly is. On the days we walked around St. Remy when it was NOT market day, we just fell in love with it. It is truly one of THE nicest places we visited (and we visited a LOT).

Another tip if you plan to visit Avignon and the Palais des Papes - all the guidebooks say it is not worth the visit inside the Palais since "there is nothing inside and everything has long ago been taken out". We debated for a long time whether to take the time and pay the price of the visit. I was SOOO happy we did. It is a fabulous place to see from inside as well and definitely a "do-not-miss" event. I have no idea why the guidebooks write this.

Have a great time.
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Old Jun 19th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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>>if you visit any city on market day you will miss seeing the city as it truly is. <<

I preach the same thing all the time.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jun 19th, 2008, 04:25 PM
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ttt
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Old Jun 19th, 2008, 06:43 PM
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You know, I thought about the same thing the other day when I was looking over my travel journal from last year's visit to Provence. We tried to make every village on its market day. We loved the markets but I began to think about what all we did NOT explore or notice in these towns. We are going back this Fall, visiting other villages and our plan this time is to make perhaps one market and focus more on the town itself. Something to consider.
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 12:51 AM
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I would not drive even 20km to go to a 'special' market in Provence. The markets are interesting everywhere, even in some of the smaller villages, so all you need to do is find out when and where the nearest one is.
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 06:25 AM
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kerouac, Kevin, St Cirq - put on your "first timer" hat.

If one of your friends were visiting France for the first time & staying in Menerbes, Bonnieux, or St Saturnin - would you recommend the Coustellet market or the l'Isle sur la Sorgue market for a Sunday adventure for them??

Stu Dudley
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 07:27 AM
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I agree with Stu...for a first timer the market in l'Isle sur la Sorgue has a good variety. If you go early, it has a nice atmosphere.

I had been to an art market in St Remy the last time we were there and it was wonderful. I found the regular market on Wednesday during our recent visit rather disappointing.
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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Stu, I did put on my "first-timer" hat in responding. In fact, I put on my "tour guide" hat as well, and every group I've ever taken to markets in Provence (first timers, all of them) went nuts over the St-Rémy and even Maussane markets and thought Ile-sur-la-Sorgue was just OK.
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 08:44 AM
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I think it's subjective but I have some photos of the food vendors at l'isle that I'm still drooling over.
We tasted and bought many things while we were there.

The food section for the St Remy market was rather disappointing in comparison.

While the antiques were no real bargin in L'isle, they were very interesting to look at.

I just found overall, St Remy had the same stuff you see in just about every tourist shop while the market at L'isle has a little more variety.
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 08:56 AM
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I like to browse, so love first walking through the brocante on the street, then going off to the Coté-Cour where the serious antiques are , Michel Biehn''s shop in home on the Ave des Quartres, and lunch at the Jardin de ja Quai (located near the train station)
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 10:10 AM
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Gotta put my two cents worth in about ISLS Sunday market. I felt the only thing that separated it from the other markets in the area was the antique portion. Being a tourist I enjoyed looking but the only thing i purchased was an antique baby spoon. ISLS as a town is definitely worthy of exploration...it was unique from most because of the lovely river and it's waterwheels. It had lots of charming shops as well. That was nice but as far as the market...I much more enjoyed the market in Apt... for some reason it was my overall favorite.
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 10:24 AM
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If I were a "first timer", I would be thrilled to go to the market in Menerbes, Bonnieux, or St Saturnin on whatever day those are held. I absolutely would not need to hunt out a special market elsewhere. I would do something else on Sunday.
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