Chef-lieu of a canton in Vaucluse (84)
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Population: 18,700 (Sorguais, Sorguaises), 48,500 in the Community of communes Les Sorgues du Comtat (5 communes)
Specialities: pistou soup, aïoli, tapenade, Châteauneuf du Pape (geographical area of the appellation)
Personalities: Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque (painting), Jean Milesi, Antoine Abate (cycling).
Sport: Sorgues Basket Club (National 2 women's), RC Sorguais (rugby Fédérale 2). Event: Cycathlon (cycling and running).
Cycling Club: Union Cycliste Sorguaise
Culture: Festifourires (humour, May).
Economy: EURENCO (EURopean ENergetics COrporation): powders, combustible objects and explosives (the former national powder factory). Vineyards, fruit and vegetable growing /.
Labels: Ville fleurie 3 fleurs / Pavillon Orange (population protection).
Websites: www.sorgues.fr / www.porteduventoux.com / www.sorgues-du-comtat.com / www.vaucluse.fr / www.provenceguide.com
SORGUES, A STORY
Picasso and Braque in Sorgues
Picasso loved the tramway and that is how he arrived in Sorgues with his new companion, Eva Gouel, in June 1912. The discovery of this green town just outside Avignon and the picturesque market decided them. They settled in a discreet villa, Les Clochettes, opposite the town hall. Georges Braque joined Picasso in Sorgues at the end of July with his young wife, Marcelle. The couple settled on the road to Entraigues, in a Japanese-inspired house, Villa Bel Air.
The summer of 1912 promised to be prodigious. Sorgues, a peaceful town, was an invitation to simple joys. Picasso and Braque concocted cooking recipes such as ajo blanco, a sort of Provençal dessert soup made with local garlic, almonds and grapes. This mixture has the virtue of "making people laugh a lot" and of radically killing flies.
Cubism, which was in its analytical phase, showed its limits. Braque and Picasso were aware that their paintings were moving too far away from the model, tending towards abstraction, and this displeased them. To reconnect with reality, they introduced real or descriptive elements directly into their paintings. This was the birth of synthetic cubism.
It was in Sorgues that the first glued paper in the history of art was created. In Avignon, Braque found a roll of wallpaper imitating oak wood. He cut it up and placed it in his canvas, creating new spaces between the illusion created by the shadows and charcoal drawings and the reality introduced by the glued paper. Picasso painted Ma jolie on one of the walls of the Les Clochettes. After the artist's departure, art dealer Daniel Henri Kahnweiler had the surface of the wall on which this oval painting was painted removed. Seduced by the Sorgues countryside, with its cypress trees and numerous streams, Georges Braque returned every summer from 1913 to 1916. It was there that he took refuge to forget the war, his wounds, his trepanning and his anxiety at the idea of returning to his brushes.
SORGUES AND CYCLING
Although Sorgues is hosting the Tour de France for the first time, the pretty little town in the Vaucluse has already been visited by Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné. In the latter event, Janez Brajkovic won a stage here in 2010 before taking the overall victory and revealing the qualities of Slovenian cycling. Sorgues was also the starting point for the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice 2020, won solo in Apt by Tiesj Benoot, who went on to win the green jersey in the event. In the 1980s, Sorgues was also on the programme of the now defunct Tour du Vaucluse.
It was in Sorgues that Digne-born rider Jean Milesi, who took part in seven Tours de France between 1960 and 1966, settled down during his career. Another Tour de France participant, Franco-Italian Antoine Abate (1961), lived in Sorgues.
Around 1820-1830, Sorgues became industrialised. Like so many other towns at the time, the town centre was moved closer to the commercial activities linked to the railway station. The PLM (Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée) line, which passed through Sorgues, enabled fruit and vegetables from the island of Oiselet and the surrounding area to be transported to the major French cities. In order to facilitate traffic in the town, the municipality carried out major works to clear avenues and squares. The Place Dis Iero, lined with bourgeois ashlar houses, was the site of the new town hall, inaugurated in 1859.
The Papal Palace
Preceding Avignon by 16 years, the Pont-de-Sorgues palace, in Gothic style, was built between 1317 and 1324. Pope John XXII chose a location on the banks of the Sorgue River, in a cool but strategic spot to watch over the northern roads. For the construction of the high towers, 479 trees were brought from Savoy by raft along the Rhône. The most skilful artists richly decorated the palace with the finest colours and gold. The popes came to the palace accompanied by their courts, cardinals, families, guards and servants. The Wars of Religion dealt a fatal blow to the building, which was almost entirely burnt down in 1562. At the beginning of the 17th century, Louis XIV, Cardinal de Mazarin and d'Artagnan, commander of the King's musketeers, were among the last to sleep in the ruins of the castle before going to besiege Orange. The attentive visitor can still see, in addition to the enclosing wall reused as a house wall, the beginning of one of the doors.
In the 11th century, the Count of Toulouse built a fortified castle, whose bridge, equipped with a watchtower, parapets and loopholes, watched over the approaches and ensured the defence of this passage. The control of this important north-south communication route was thus assured while generating lucrative revenues, since a toll was introduced to cross the bridge, the droit de barre, intended for travellers and merchants from outside Sorgues. Sorgues is located on a very old communication route (Via Agrippa), at equal distance from Avignon, Orange and Carpentras. It was very popular with merchants wishing to reach the Rhone valley, and was also used by numerous pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
Emerging from the vegetation when you arrive on Ile de l'Oiselay, the Pont des Arméniers is an integral part of the town's heritage. Put into service in 1922 on the initiative of the islanders, this remarkable structure is listed as a Historical Monument. Closed in 1975 for safety reasons, it will in the future be used only by pedestrians and cyclists. Its restoration, which should be completed by 2022, will allow it to be integrated into the Via Rhôna itinerary, which runs from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean along the Rhône.
Huts on the water
Located in an exceptional environment, the Coucoo Grands Cépages eco-domain is a peaceful place that allows everyone to experience a moment of disconnection and pleasure in the middle of nature in exceptional cabins. On the turquoise waters of the Lac de la Lionne, 15 luxurious floating wooden cabins, on stilts or with plants, form an enchanting village. This nature-sized tourist destination is unique in the region. It integrates the principles of sustainable tourism with 100% eco-responsible cabins.
Brantes Castle Garden
Nestled in the heart of the Brantes estate, the Brantes garden is a Tuscan-inspired garden classified as a "Remarkable Garden". Built in 1700, the Château de Brantes was enlarged in 1815 and restored in 1955 by the current owners. Open to visitors, its garden is built around a central axis of three mirror pools where the water of the Sorgue flows. Lawns, lines of boxwood and cypresses, and baskets of laurel trees have found their place alongside century-old lagestroemia and one of the largest magnolia grandiflora in Europe (6 m in circumference).
The paintings of Philippe Sauvan
The town of Sorgues owns, exhibited in the choir of the Church of the Transfiguration, the largest group of paintings assembled to date by painter Philippe Sauvan (1697-1792). These paintings are of remarkable heritage interest. Six of the eight works by Philippe Sauvan were listed in September 2013 as historical monuments. On the initiative of the municipality, they have all just been restored.
Fougasse with grattelons
In 2018, a pastry chef from Sorgues, the namesake of a famous French rider, Jacky Durand, made the largest fougasse aux grattelons in the world (12 m long and 5 m wide). Traditionally in Provence, fougasse is the cooked dough that is placed in the oven to ensure its temperature before making the bread.