693km (430 miles) S of Paris; 23km (14 miles) E of Avignon; 34km (21 miles) W of Apt

France's second-largest antiques center (after Paris) stretches across five branches of the Sorgue River and a network of canals. Inevitably some call it the Venice of Provence, but L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue doesn't need this fatuous comparison to draw visitors to its flower-filled riverside restaurants and winding streets of the old town. It used to be a hive of industry, with its water wheels powering the work of silk weavers, tanners, and grain and oil millers. Nowadays the giant moss-covered wheels are purely decorative, adding a picturesque note to the general attractiveness of this bustling town.

Antiques shops are everywhere, and on Sunday morning the town heaves with one of the region's largest weekly markets. Brocante (second-hand goods) dealers squeeze in alongside the scores of stalls selling local produce and Proven├žal souvenirs. You're in luck if you're in town on the first Sunday in August, when a floating market takes over the river. Fishermen and their wives make a colorful sight as they dress up in period costume to sell their wares.