Calling All Collectors – Antique Fairs in the south of France

Antiques Festival Isle sur la Sorgue

Every day all around France, collectors, amateur collectors and spectators gather at the various brocantes offering a plethora of goods from times past and present. The International Antiques Festival on Isle sur La Sorgue is one of those gathering points in the picturesque Vaucluse  where over several days you can indulge in what for some has become a habit. Deborah, our Barefoot Blogger takes us along on the adventure calling all collectors!

isle sur la sorgue

Before moving to France and getting rid of all my “stuff,” I was a collector. If there was more than one of anything, I wanted it.

isle sur la sorgue

ginny doll

The obsession started when I was a child with Ginny Dolls. Each doll was eight inches tall and cost two dollars each. I must have had a dozen. As an adult I amassed hundreds of things that looked like dolls—figurines and vintage Raggedy Annes. I collected salt and pepper shakers that were like dolls. Each pair had to be pre-WWII ;  stamped “made in Japan;” a man and woman set; representing a “foreign” country; and they could be no taller than two inches high. I also collected vintage Bakelite bangles and earrings; dozens of Longaberger baskets; and stacks of Buffalo blue willow china.

Now that I live in France it’s hard not to pick up my old habit. This place is “heaven on earth” for collectors.

isle sur la sorgue

“Brocante” is what they call collectibles here. Brocante stores are found in almost every town and village in the south of France where I live. In Uzes brocante items are strewn alongthe sidewalks on blankets or on portable tables down the Main Street on Sundays. A big brocante market is open every other week in the arena parking lot. A few times a year the market takes over a church parking lot, or the Place aux Herbes for a whole weekend.

One of the “best-of-all-brocantes” in Europe is less than a two hour drive from Uzes in L’Isle sur la Sorgue. Collectors and tourists rush to the tiny town every Sunday to find treasures sold by dealers who come in from near and far. Ten “villages” or centers with permanent antique stores also open for the Sunday crowds. Since the town’s market day is on Sunday as well, with a hundred or more local food and merchandise vendors, you can buy everything from a slice of brie cheese, to a bottle of wine, to a victorian cheese knife.

isle sur la sorgue

Each year L’Isle sur la Sorgue hosts the Antiques festival Isle sur la Sorgue twice a year for collectors and exhibitors — one at Easter and one in August. These two fairs have become so popular that L’Isle sur la Sorgue is recognized in the same category as Paris and London for international antiques events. In fact, the unassuming town is considered one of the cardinal points in the “golden triangle” of places to be on those days for exhibitors and collectors of antiquities throughout the world.

isle sur la sorgue

This year’s Easter event — 13-17 April 2017 — is expected to draw over 200 exhibitors from the France and Europe who will offer their goods for sale. Experts will be on hand to provide information about the origins and authenticity of the items on sale at the fair.

isle sur la sorgue

On the days of the fair you can expect L’Isle sur la Sorgue to be mobbed with visitors. My suggestion to you is to arrive early, take a backpack and carry a lunch for yourself. Restaurants fill up fast. After you spend the morning browsing and/or buying your treasures, find a spot to sit along the canal that runs around the town and enjoy your lunch and the scenery.

isle sur la sorgue

If you see someone rushing around with bags full of doll-like things … it could be me!

Picnic Ideas

Remember, you’re in the south of France! So your picnic at the antique fair should be memorable. Here are suggestions from Chef Eric that you can buy locally to fill your backpack for lunch and snacks.

Packing your French picnic basket is simple and delicious. Here are a few of the things I consider when I’m packing for our picnics:

Bread (baguette tradition)
1 or 2 melons, if in-season
Some cooked or raw ham, dry sausage
A bottle of chilled Gamay and cold water
Some olives, a mix of green and black marinated with fennel and lemon
A salad, maybe a taboulet or pasta salad (no Mayonnaise . . )
A hard cheese, like Gruyère or Cantal
A “gateau au yaourt” is also a perfect cake for that day, bring a few strawberries as accompagnement (assuming they are in season).
A salty cake with smoked salmon

If you want to go further, take a roasted chicken cut into 8 pieces and a few homemade chips – don’t forget the mustard or your knife. 

Where to shop for your picnic lunch on L’Isle sur la Sorgue: On market day in the center of town Thursday & Sunday

Where to enjoy your picnic: Head to Le Portalet – along the Sorgue river just a few steps from the center of town – a tranquil and calm spot.

Getting there: Pass in front of the Lycée (high school), at Benoit, take a right at the round about then a right into the small street. Go straight until the intersection, right of the parking.

Le Partage des Eaux – A green oasis on L’Isle sur la Sorgue. Allow yourself to be taken in by the clear fresh waters. You will find a few benches and tables.

Getting there: Head toward the Super U supermarket after the round-about take the first right – you will see signs indicating the way.

isle sur la sorgue

 

updated: March 2017


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