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Paris – Provins Medieval City: an easy day trip from Paris

Paris Travel Blog 2018. Last update: June 2018

Paris to Provins France is one of the easiest day trips from Paris by train (or by day tour). Provins Cité Médiévale (Provins Medieval City) has an interesting history and many things to do and see so you can never be bored in Provins. In addition, la Cité Médiévale de Provins hosts one of the best medieval fairs in Europe, an event that we recommend to see by yourself if you are around. Here are our best tips to enjoy a fantastic Provins day trip from Paris.

SUGGESTED TOUR: Provins Day Tour from Paris

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Great for exploring small towns near Paris

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MEDIEVAL PROVINS FRANCE: A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

READ MORE –  Best Day Trips from Paris: 10 Cute Small Towns near Paris that you cannot miss

Medieval Provins, France, is a city located 70km south-east of Paris, well known for its medieval fairs. A long time ago, Provins was the capital of the powerful Counts of Champagne. Thanks to the counts’ protection and its strategic position the town became one of the main actors of the early development of international trade fairs and the wool industry in Europe, during the XI and XIII centuries. While other European city-fairs were always located close to a harbor, Provins’ location was also very central, but in the middle of nowhere. 

Medieval Provins France

Provins had an urban layout built specifically to host fairs and related activities. Merchants from all over Europe and the Orient came to Provins to do business in its busy streets and squares. Provins’ Medieval Fairs were so important that the town became very prosperous and was minting its own coinage, the “denier provinois” (Provins’ penny). Today all those years of history are still palpable and Provins is one of the most beautiful medieval towns near Paris, with its winding streets, and medieval architecture.

Medieval Provins Francevia Flickr CC @Guillaume Speurt

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THINGS TO DO IN PROVINS MEDIEVAL CITY

Provins Medieval Ramparts and César Tower

In order to protect the town and its wealth, Provins got fortified. Provins’ ramparts were built between IX and XIII centuries, with different towers and fortified gates. Today we can still see 1.200 meters of the original ramparts and 22 towers. From the Tour César (XII century), the most iconic tower and the town’s symbol, you can enjoy fantastic 360º views.

Medieval Provins France

Medieval Provins France

Grange aux Dîmes and other Historical Buildings

Provins has 58 structures registered in the French inventory of Historical Buildings so the city can keep you busy for a while. Provins Tourisme runs a website where you can find all the information about the city’s main highlights.  We enjoyed especially La Grange aux Dîmes, an ancient covered market from the XIII century where different objects and mannequins show visitors how was life and customs in Medieval Provins during the Medieval fairs. 

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PROVINS’ UNDERGROUND GALLERIES

People say that in Provins there is the Upper Town, the Lower Town . . . and the Underground Town. And this is true because under the street level there are kilometers and kilometers of underground galleries, vaulted halls, and even crypts! How come? In Medieval Provins, all the houses had an underground part consisting (most of the times) of a beautiful vaulted hall usually built 3/4 below the ground level. This part of the house had an independent access from the street and usually was rented to merchants to install their shops or warehouses during the medieval fairs.

Medieval Provins France

The vast network of underground passages is mainly from the XIII century. These galleries are divided into three categories:

» civil passages used for people’s communication or shelter
» military passages used as warehouses
» private passages to store sheets and woolen clothes warehouses, when Provins was an important center of production of these good

L’ Office de Tourisme Provins organizes different tours to visit part of these galleries (4.5€) but there is only one tour in English (2.30 pm Saturday, Sunday and public holidays) so try to book in advance here or at your arrival to the town. If you are traveling on a budget and don’t want to spend this money, there is a nice medieval bookshop located in one of this typical underground vaulted rooms (9, rue de Jouy). This is an alternative way to see how houses looked like centuries ago.

 

LES MÉDIÉVALES DE PROVINS: ONE OF THE BEST MEDIEVAL FESTIVALS IN FRANCE

During spring and summer but also during Christmas Provins organizes medieval festivals. If you are visiting the area in June, don’t miss Les Médiévales de Provins, one of the best medieval festivals in France. During a whole weekend, people in Provins welcomes visitors dressed in traditional costumes. In Provins’ streets and squares, lively bands play medieval music and there are many activities and events for adults and kids. Next Médiévales de Provins 2018 will take place on 9th and 10th June 2018. 

Les Médiévales de Provins via Flick CC @Julien Magne

WHERE TO SLEEP IN PROVINS

With such an interesting heritage you may think that one day is not enough to visit Provins and well, we agree! At nightfall in summer, a thousand candles light the streets and musicians are on every corner so staying in Provins overnight is more than recommended. Unfortunately, Provins has a lack of budget accommodation but there are cute little hotels in the Upper Town for reasonable prices, especially if you book in advance. Here are our favorite proposals:

Provins Medieval TownDEMEURE DES VIEUX BAINS – MID RANGE STAY (100-200€ PER NIGHT)

A B&B accommodation in a historical XII century building surrounded by beautiful gardens. Quiet hotel with excellent location. Each of the 5 rooms available is unique and spacious and most of them have garden views.

Click here for the Latest Prices


Provins Medieval Town

MAISON D’HÔTES STELLA CADENTE – MID RANGE STAY (100-200€ PER NIGHT)

This is a fantastic B&B accommodation located close to the César Tower, a kind of chateau de Provins. The XIX century building has 5 uniquely decorated guest rooms inspired by classic fairy-tale themes, designed by the fashion designer Stella Cadente.

Click here for the Latest Prices


Cesar Hotel Provins

LE CÉSAR HOTEL PROVINS – LUXURY STAY (200€+ PER NIGHT) 

With the best possible location (right of the town’s center), modern facilities and a contemporary design, Le César Hôtel Provins has everything you need for a unique stay in Provins. The beautiful rooms have views of the church or the town.

Click here for the Latest Prices


PARIS TO PROVINS BY TRAIN 

A Paris to Provins day trip is one of the easiest day trips from Paris by train. Provins is located in Seine et Marne Department. SNCF trains to Provins leave from Gare de l’Est train station (1,5 hrs direct train, hourly). If you have a Navigo Pass 5 zones the ride is free on weekends and holidays. When you arrive at Provins’ train station there is a tourist shuttle (probably run by l’ Office de Tourisme Provins) waiting right at the exit of the station. This bus goes through the main sights located in the high town (4€ daily ticket, 2.5€ single ticket). These sights are not that far from the station so you don’t really need this service if you like walking. You can find all the Paris Provins Transportation options here.

 

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    […] and one found us in the town of Quedlinburg which apparently was a UNESCO town.  There are so many medieval towns in Europe that it’s probably really hard to miss them!   Anyway, I do like to tick off nice UNESCO […]

  • Lolo
    04/23/2017 at 8:32 pm

    oooh what a cute town! Thanks for pinning it to my half-timbered pinterest board! LOVE LOVE LOVE half-timbered towns! 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      04/25/2017 at 8:48 pm

      Ok, if I find other half timbered towns I will make sure to drop a nice pin on your collection 🙂

  • Alejandro
    03/16/2017 at 11:29 am

    What a beautiful blog! Thank you for your sharing!

  • Megan Jerrard
    03/01/2017 at 8:19 am

    Provins Medieval town sounds fantastic! I hadn’t heard of it before, though I would love to organize a day trip the next time we’re in Paris. And hopefully plan the trip to coincide with a festival, because that looks so much fun! I love that there’s so much history and culture in such a small town 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      03/01/2017 at 8:29 pm

      I am sure you would love cute Provins, Megan 🙂

  • Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
    02/28/2017 at 5:25 am

    I can perfectly picture the fair and market in the main square with all the merchants trying to sell their goods. Provins is straight from medieval times! The tower and the ramparts look to be in great shape for their age. I’d love to make a day for Provins next time I’m in Paris.

    • WorldInParis
      03/01/2017 at 8:32 pm

      Now you know how to reach Provins and how to get the most out of this beautiful town. Hope you will make to visit it, one day

  • Eric || The Bucket List Project
    02/27/2017 at 8:38 pm

    what a cool city. When I saw the ramparts (giant wall) I was kind of amazed until I saw you can spend the day discovering the underground! Amazing! To walk around those crypts would be creepy but the history of them is interesting I am sure. I was going to say that a day trip may not be enough! I would want to spend a long weekend there or something.

    • WorldInParis
      02/27/2017 at 10:28 pm

      Indeed! That’s why I added a couple of hotel suggestions at the end of the post 😉

  • Jo
    02/27/2017 at 6:28 am

    Oh wow i really wish i had read this before my trip to Paris. I love the pictures of the underground town..so cool. Its an easy trip as well to DIY. Saved for future.

    • WorldInParis
      03/01/2017 at 8:39 pm

      well, Paris is always a good idea so I am sure there will be other opportunities for you to visit Paris

  • Drew
    02/26/2017 at 8:58 pm

    How I have never heard of Provins! Looks really fun and interesting, especially since it is so close to Paris and easy to do in a day trip. Love diving deep into European history, so this is right up my alley!

    • WorldInParis
      02/26/2017 at 11:11 pm

      Now that you know, let an empty space in your plan when you come again to Paris 😉

  • Indrani
    02/26/2017 at 11:50 am

    Provins is a wonderful day tour from Paris. I did it and have some good pics from the place. Never got around to blogging on it. The walls there, so might and strong, very impressive.

    • WorldInParis
      02/26/2017 at 3:29 pm

      Oh cool that you had the chance to visit (and enjoy) Provins! Not many people know about it 🙂

  • Travelling Tom
    02/25/2017 at 11:28 pm

    This looks like my kinda place! I love the buildings and the architecture, plus the Underground Town would be amazing to explore! I’d never heard of this place before I read this, thanks for bringing it o my attention!

    • WorldInParis
      03/01/2017 at 8:40 pm

      You are welcome, Tom. Yes the underground part is very exiting to explore 🙂

  • Hugo Cura
    02/25/2017 at 11:06 pm

    Provins is a gem of a town. I visited a couple of years back and really enjoyed spending a few hours exploring the historical medieval center.

    Great day trip from Paris!

    • WorldInParis
      03/01/2017 at 8:41 pm

      So happy that you made it to Provins! As you can read, most of our readers are just discovering it . . . Glad to know that you liked it 🙂

  • Anne
    02/25/2017 at 1:00 pm

    Omg how cute. Who would have thought something so cute could be so near Paris. It reminds me of Alsace. Definitely now want to head back to Paris.

    • WorldInParis
      02/25/2017 at 7:55 pm

      Anne I think this is a place you definitely want to explore 😉

  • melody pittman
    02/14/2017 at 2:33 pm

    I love medieval towns so I know I would enjoy Provins a lot. How far is it from Brittany region? I love the architecture and the history here. Thanks for sharing such a unique place.

    • WorldInParis
      02/14/2017 at 11:15 pm

      Provins is 70km East from Paris, so Brittany gets further. Provins- Brest is 650km by car (according to M. Google)

  • Eemma
    02/14/2017 at 6:24 am

    What a unique little town with lots of history. The underground town is so cool! Do they still use it today or just give tours of it?

    • WorldInParis
      02/14/2017 at 11:18 pm

      I think that apart from those that you visit during the guide, owners still use the underground vaults (some with beautiful shops). I don’t think they can use the galleries though

  • Marge
    02/14/2017 at 12:08 am

    It’s so nice to know a little bit of history behind a beautiful place as Provins. This is the first time I have heard of this place and already I am in love with it. I love the history that you shared, I love the vintage feel of it, and I am very impressed with the tall gates of Tour Cesar. I would also love to check out the Underground Town. It’s so mysterious and beautiful.

    • WorldInParis
      02/15/2017 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks for your comment Marge. I am sure that you would enjoy this little gem a lot. Maybe someday . . . 🙂

  • Anastasia
    02/13/2017 at 10:44 pm

    Wow, what stunning medieval architecture – the buildings, walls and underground passages! Would love to see those – I’ll bear it in mind next time I’m in Paris!

    • WorldInParis
      02/15/2017 at 10:27 pm

      I am sure you will enjoy it! Thanks for dropping by . . 🙂

  • Lara Dunning
    02/13/2017 at 7:48 am

    I’ve never heard of this town and it sounds really charming with all the things I like to experience. I’d want to stay overnight so I appreciate the lodging tips! Thanks for sharing!

    • WorldInParis
      02/13/2017 at 10:35 pm

      Staying overnight must be beautiful, especially during summer time 🙂

  • Kerri
    02/13/2017 at 12:29 am

    You’ve highlighted a great town here Elisa. How could I have missed this one. I’ve probably driven past it a number of towns. I love the half timbered houses and anything with ramparts is always great….but the underground town – wow ! Definitely putting this one on my list for the next time we are back over there. Just gorgeous.

    • WorldInParis
      02/13/2017 at 10:36 pm

      Thank YOU Kerri 🙂

  • Brianna
    02/12/2017 at 7:28 pm

    This is straight out of a fairytale! I love this town and the underground bits look like so much fun to explore!

    • WorldInParis
      02/12/2017 at 11:21 pm

      Yes, the town is beautiful but the underground galleries and vaulted halls is my favourite part. So unique!

  • Nic
    02/12/2017 at 11:14 am

    This is just perfect, what a beautiful place. I have only been to Paris but it is this region, with the wonderful Medieval buildings that I would love to visit next time. Lovely photos.

    • WorldInParis
      02/12/2017 at 11:25 pm

      Thanks for your comment Nic! Yes, Ile de France province deserves a little detour 😉

  • Elena
    02/12/2017 at 9:38 am

    Wow, it looks really medieval!

  • Revati Victor
    02/11/2017 at 1:44 pm

    This is so fascinating! Having discovered a few Medieval towns in Italy recently, I’m definitely intrigued by Provins! Wish I’d known about it when I was in Paris over the summer. PS: I’ve also just discovered your blog, and I’m absolutely in LOVE with it!

    • WorldInParis
      02/14/2017 at 11:21 pm

      So cuuute! Thanks for the blog-love, cheers from Paris 🙂

  • Mihaela Lica Butler
    02/11/2017 at 12:22 pm

    A gorgeous town, Elisa. Maybe one day we’ll visit. We travel to Paris quite often on business. If we can get a weekend off this summer, we’ll try to see your home. 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      02/14/2017 at 9:02 pm

      Cool to explore Paris bit by bit 🙂