l’Isle sur la Sorgue is one of the prettiest villages in the area. The Sorgue river splits into several smaller branches here and meanders through the village, dissecting it with what look like small canals and streams, giving the village the nickname The Venice of Provence.
It’s about a 40 minute drive north and east of us, across the Durance river and beyond the maze of streets in Cavaillon. We wanted to get there around 11:30 to allow time to wander through the Market before having lunch at Café Fleurs, one of our favorite dining destinations. Except for Cavaillon, which is a bit grim, the drive through the countryside was pretty. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny, with just a hint of breeze.
The biggest problem with Market Day in l’Isle sur la Sorgue is parking. There is none. The limited parking on the Boulevard is always taken up by vendors, and the few small lots close by are jammed. David dropped me off next to the small park and went looking for a place to park. He was fortunate to spot someone pulling out of a place, walked back to meet me, and we set off to browse.
The Market here dwarfs ours in Eygalières and that of nearby St. Remy. It lines both banks of the major waterway and extends into the small squares nearby. Virtually everything imaginable is for sale. We walked past a stall selling Italian specialty meats and spotted a porchetta! The vendor gave us some small slices to try, and pressed us to buy, but David explained that our interest was just that I make the same dish at home. The vendor smiled and asked if I was Italian, and David said naturalement. We only succumbed twice, once to buy a sinful saucisson (sausage) made with Roquefort, and again to buy two reste de coulieres (spoon rests) for cooking. Fish, cheese, sausages, fabrics, hats, jewelry, wine, oils, all were on display in abundance.
After an hour of strolling and perusing the merchandise, we headed to Café Fleurs, which adjoins a small, shaded park. We had requested seating on the terrace, and were shown to a table under an umbrella next to a tiny fountain. The menu was wonderful, with many choices to tempt us. I passed on the entrée and went with a cut of beef with Charlotte potatoes. David started with beignet langoustine with guacamole, which was absolutely wonderful, and then a truite de mer (similar to steelhead) for his plat. It was done perfectly and came with a mousse of small spring peas. Can’t say enough about the food here – check out the photos.
For wine, David asked the waiter – who was very cordial – to help him choose between a Gigondas blanc or Vacqueyras blanc. He’s familiar with the reds from the two villages in the Southern Rhone, but not the whites, so appreciated the input. Rather than recommend one or the other, the waiter described each one and left the choice to David, who opted for the Vacqueyras. It was absolutely wonderful, fresh, full, and fruity. As an added bonus, David learned the correct pronunciation of the two villages. He had always left the final “s” silent, as the text books teach you, but found that in Provence the s is pronounced. When he asked the waiter why, he smiled, shrugged and said, “who knows, it is France.”
David’s meal, though small, was rich, so he passed on his cheese plate, which the waiter offered to me. I took it and enjoyed three variations on chevre, local goat cheese, one plain, one coated with herbs, and one with pepper. Chevre is a bit bland for my taste, but this was enjoyable, nonetheless.
After our café noir we strolled through the little park, got our car and headed home.
A bit after 7 we headed to Mausanne to join our friends Christine and Philippe Theme at a new restaurant they wanted to try. The chef used to be at Bistrot Mogador, just a short distance away in Fontvielle, while his wife creates fabulous pastries. FF2 (Frank and Flo squared) turned out to be delightful. A small, charming dining room, excellent food, and the companionship of Christine and Philippe made for a perfect evening. I had a wonderful piece of beef, probably Charolais, while David and Christine opted for the thon (tuna.) As always, we left the wine selection to Philippe, who picked a wonderful red for all but me. I went with a glass of rosé. We all caught up on all the news in our respective villages, families, and enjoyed many laughs.
We ended the evening late, leaving FD2 at 10:30, having decided that we would get together at the mas on Tuesday night for dinner to cook a cote de boeuf (rib-eye).
Back over the mountain and to the mas, without incident.