If you have a car and a late afternoon to kill around Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, consider a short side-trip to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. In my opinion, this tiny town, perhaps a 20-minute drive from Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, is much more popular than it warrants, but it’s worth a quick stop, especially in the late afternoon when the tourist buses have rolled bravely onward. The town itself is clearly geared entirely to the tourist’s convenience, with every variety of cheap and tacky souvenir and low-cost-low-thrills eateries lining its center. Spring for a couple euros to park in one of the lots (unfortunately unavoidable) and just keep your face toward the river, walking upstream – trust me, you’re missing nothing.
This is the most uncommonly gorgeous emerald-green river I’ve ever seen, tumbling over rocks and sliding over an artificial falls. Your walk upstream won’t last long; shortly after you pass the town on your left, you will find the spring, which is the source of the Sorgue River. In bright daylight, this appears to be a bottomless pool of bright green (my visit, on an overcast afternoon, found it dull gray, but I’ve seen pictures . . . ). It was here that the poet Petrarch mooned over his lost love Laura, and certainly he picked a scenic place
As you walk back from the spring, consider a quick walk through the paper mill/museum. This is free, and you can see the actual waterwheel-driven paper mill beating rags into paper before you pass into the inevitable shop where you can buy some of the lovely, although expensive, products of the mill. In the underground mall you will find exiting downstream from the paper mill/store, you will also find the public bathrooms, guarded by gloomy attendants – barely clean, somewhat smelly, and costing you €0.50. It’s the only toilet I paid for in a two and a half week visit to France.
You will probably have a half mile or so to stroll back to your car, so if you like spring for an ice cream cone from one of the ubiquitous stands to keep you company on your way.