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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MEDIEVAL PROVINS FRANCE: A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
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.
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.
via Flickr CC @Guillaume Speurt
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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