Along the river Sorgue

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The river Sorgue

A succession of villages stretching along the cool banks of the river.

The Sorgue holds a prominent place in the life and history of this area, bringing all its richness and originality.

The Sorgue has a constant temperature of 12° to 13° C all year round.

Along the waterfront, the real historical heritage is the water. Follow the shore, wander and let yourself dream

The clear water is born at Fontaine de Vaucluse, rising from the abyss. The Sorgue has an extraordinary flow during the rains. The waters which surge out of the ground at Fontaine de Vaucluse come from the infiltration of rainwater on the Plateau d'Albion, the Montagne de Lure and snow melt in the southern Monts de Vaucluse.

A few kilometres further on, in Isle sur Sorgue, the Sorgue is divided into two branches which embrace the “Isle”. In the streets, the water is diverted to drive water wheels and the lapping of the channels has earned the village the nickname “Venice of the Comtat.”

The various diversions and branches of the river come together at the Pont des Cinq Eaux. The Sorgue then continues its course towards Le Thor where it flows around Notre Dame du Lac, the beautiful Romanesque church.



The Source

With a total average flow of 630 million cubic metres per year, resulting from the emergence of a vast underground network, the spring is the most copiously productive in Europe, and one of the largest in the world, by volume of water.

A cool and quiet wellspring in winter and summer, and a surging and impetuous torrent in in spring and autumn, the Fontaine is a real wonder of nature which never ceases to amaze.

The waters which surge out of the ground at Fontaine de Vaucluse come from the infiltration of rainwater on the Plateau d'Albion and the Montagne de Lure, representing a catchment area of 1240 square kilometres, for which the source is the only exit point.

While the dramatic surges (90 cubic metres per second!) of Spring and Autumn arouse the astonishment and admiration of visitors, experts are more intrigued by the smooth flow during the summer and seasons of little rainfall.

Experiments have been carried out, colouring the underground rivers of the limestone caves and have shown the existence of underground “collectors”, natural drains feeding the Fontaine de Vaucluse. This is so far the most studied water source in the world — hundreds of studies and books about it exist.

The late nineteenth century saw the first attempts to explore the source underwater - a funnel-shaped vertical conduit 308 metres deep - and more than a century of bold explorations have provide an insight into the mystery of its workings.

A booklet is available at all Tourist Offices in the area — at L'Isle sur la Sorgue and Fontaine de Vaucluse in particular. It explains in detail the inner workings of the source of Fontaine de Vaucluse.




The river fork

An unmissable place to visit, this is the green pearl of L'Isle sur la Sorgue. Called Espélugues in ancient times - meaning “cave” or “cavity.” This came from the belief that there was a deep cavity into which the waters of the Sorgue disappeared to reappear further downstream.

Its origin dates back to the dawn of time. The “Partage des Eaux” is aptly named as the Sorgue, originating at the Fontaine de Vaucluse, naturally separates into two branches.

Today, the spectacle is a continually renewed miracle to behold. The fork in the river offers visitors and locals alike a preserved natural environment. The freshness of its water is constant through summer and winter at 13° C. The clear waters are a first-class place for the local tradition of fishing.

Let yourself be captivated by the clear waters, so dear to Petrarch, and maybe you will the Fantines - the waternymphs, or Sirens, of the Sorgue.

(Text by F. Sanchez)


Today you can take a walk along a trail with lots of information points telling the stories and history of the Sorgue, starting at Basin Bouïgas and running for just over a mile, leading you to the fork, where a pleasant picnic area with some marvellous restaurants await you.



Fishing on the Sorgue

Bordered on the east by the Rhone and to the south by the Durance, the Vaucluse is ranked in the top class for fishing. The banks are classified in category 1, and trout is the most abundant species in the waters.

For trout and grayling the expert angler won't hesitate to turn to the Sorgue for an unparalleled fishing experience — the wild fish are of exceptional quality and are particularly wary, making for excellent sport. The water is almost always completely clear and at a high level, where all the most noble techniques may be exercised at leisure: Fly, spinner, or spoon... The Sorgue network is a first class fishing location and consequently has very strict and specific regulations.

Forty-eight fish species are currently listed in the Vaucluse. The village streets often have highly evocative names: rue de la Loutre, de l’Anguille, de la Truite, de l’Ecrevisse (Otter, Eel, Trout and Crayfish streets!).

From time immemorial, the inhabitants of the Isle have enjoyed the exclusive right to fish in the Sorgue from its source up to its confluence with the Rhone. This right is found in the privileges granted to the community on July 31, 1237. These privileges remained in force until the Comtat Venaissin and the Vaucluse were incorporated into France in 1791. More than 10,000 crayfish per day were fished until 1960.


"Fichouire" is a traditional method of fishing with a practised with a seven-pointed spear.


Fédération de Pêche du Vaucluse :
Président Philippe LALAUZE
575 Chemin des Fontanelles


9 am to 12 pm and 2 to 4 pm Monday to Friday

Tel: : +33 (0)4 90 86 62 68

Fax: +33 (0)4 90 86 11 90