The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
The Road to L'Isle

Twelve hours of sleep and a long shower did wonders to restore our humanity, although we were both still a bit punchy in the morning. Under other circumstances we might have been tempted to spend a few days in Nice before moving on, but we'd visited here a couple of times in the past and just wanted to get to our final destination, stop moving and settle in for the long haul.

We got a late start and after a rather lengthy and unexpected detour (compliments of the GPS and a mistake of mine), we finally got back on the right road and headed west. Our our two-and-a-half hour drive turned out to be more like four hours. Annoying perhaps, but then we had all the time in the world today.

L'Isle sur-la-Sorgue (literally: the island in the Sorgue) adopted that name in 1890. The Sorgue River streams out of the rocks a short way from here and was split into dozens of canals as it surged into town. Water wheels on those canals powered a variety of industries during the Industrial Revolution. The silk and paper factories are long gone and only about two dozen of the old wheels remain. One, in fact, sits right outside our apartment.

L'Isle is now a center for antiques and has been a favorite spot of ours since we first spent a week here in 2006. It has two weekly markets that take over the entire town, the largest of which (Sunday) originally started in 1596! The area draws a strong tourist trade in the summer months but at this time of year, it's pretty much just us and the locals ... which is precisely why we like it!

The Waterwheel Apartment, our home away from home for the next eleven days, is in the center of town. Many of the 120 restaurants and countless shops in town are closed until spring, but there's still plenty of activity ... and it's all within easy walking distance. Even with the lower body count in town, parking can still be difficult. We lucked into a spot right next to the apartment and don't plan to move the car until we have to! Maybe on Friday after the Thursday market has come and gone.

The town is really magical after dark when it's ancient vibe seems most alive and well. After a short walk to the supermarket to stock the apartment with essentials, we realized tha neither of us had had much to eat all day. As in most of Europe, restaurants don't open until late by American standards, but the temperature was still pleasant enough to sit outside and nurse a drink until a few more places opened for the night.

We ended up at Pizz'Eric, an artisinal pizzzeria offering no less than 100 different combinations! Just trying to read through the list, let alone make a selection, is a career. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend the idea to my pizza clients ... but it seems that Eric's clientele already knew what they wanted when they came in ... and there were a lot of them doing that. In case you're interested, We went for a red sauce pie with chicken breast, artichokes, eggplant and mushrooms, cooked crisp and slightly blackened in a gas-fired pizza oven. Perfect!

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