Impressive city walls, beautiful half-timbered houses, medieval donjons: the city of Provins will take you back to medieval times in a second!
If you need a break from your stressful everyday life (or if you are a history enthusiast like me), I have the perfect get-away plan for you! The medieval city of Provins is a haven of calm, located only 80 kilometers away from Paris. A direct train from the Gare de l’Est train station will take you to this beautiful town in about 1.5 hours. What’s more, if you have the “pass Navigo” you will travel for free on Saturdays and Sundays.
We spent a lovely weekend in Provins and we arrived on a Friday night by train. We immediately wondered how the buildings could be so well preserved.
I have always loved history and visiting a place becomes immediately more interesting to me when I understand its context and how it became what it is today. So here are just a few words about the past of one of the best preserved medieval towns in France.
A little bit of history
Ideally located at the crossroads of medieval Europe trade roads, Provins became a significant city during the 12th and 13th centuries, thanks to the famous Trade Fairs of Champagne.
These fairs became very popular thanks to the earls of Champagne who ensured the security of the merchants and made sure the trade rules were respected. What’s more, the logistical organization found in Provins (market buildings, store houses, accommodation) made it easy for the merchants to come and sell their products.
People would come from all over Europe to trade wool, cloth, fabrics, silk, wine, fruit, spices… The impressive wall that we can still see today was built to protect the inhabitants, as well as the merchants.
Eight hundred years later, the medieval buildings are still visible and the ancient capital of the earls of Champagne has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
So now let’s start our journey to the middle Ages.
The places we discovered
Place du Chatel
My hotel was located on the beautiful place du Chatel, lined up with lovely medieval houses, and I was immediately plunged into the middle ages atmosphere. This little plaza is a great starting point to explore the city. From there, you will easily reach the Caesar Tower.
The Caesar Tower
The Caesar Tower is a donjon from the 12th century which was built on a little hill to protect the earls. What makes it so special is that it is one of the only octagonal donjons with a square base. From there, you will enjoy a beautiful panoramic view over Provins and its surroundings.
The Aligre boulevard
This peaceful area by the “fausse rivière” will take you to the fortified wall. Take a break in the near-by park and why not have a picnic? You will find delicious ham, cheese, bread and wine in the covered market in the “lower” part of the city.
The fortified wall
The wall was built between the 11th and the 13th centuries to protect the city. Today, you can still walk around these impressive walls, which are over 25m high and 1 km long.
A few tips if you plan on visiting Provins
- Getting there
Getting to Provins is very easy from Paris, even if you do not have a car, thanks to the direct train from the Gare de l’Est station. Once you reach the little station of Provins, you can easily walk to the historic city center located in the “upper” part of the town. This is where my hotel was located, at a 15-minute walking distance from the train station.
- Good addresses
Le banquet des Troubadours – 14 Rue Saint-Thibault, 77160 Provins, France. With the banquet of Troubadours, you will live the ultimate medieval experience! This ancient cellar has been converted into an amazing place where real medieval banquets are organized on Saturday nights. As soon as you get there, you will be invited to wear a costume from the middle ages. You will sit at a huge table and will be served a 6-course meal. Troubadours and jugglers will entertain you between courses. Click here to check the restaurant’s site.
Le Petit Ecu – 9 Place du Châtel, 77160 Provins, France. You will find many crêperies around place du Chatel. We have tested them and the crepes are delicious! Our favorite came from the Petit Ecu.
Aux Vieux Remparts – 3 Rue Couverte, 77160 Provins, France. If you are looking to treat yourself with an excellent gastronomic diner, l’Hôtellerie aux Vieux Remparts is the place your are looking for! Click here to check their website.
- Our hotel: l’hostellerie Aux Vieux Remparts – 3 Rue Couverte, 77160 Provins, France
If you are celebrating a special occasion or if you just dream about a « cocooning » weekend, the hotel called « Aux Vieux Remparts » will be the perfect place for you. It IS expensive, but it will be the cherry on the cake of your perfect get-away weekend. You will have access to the hotel’s spa with an inside pool, Turkish bath and sauna. You can also enjoy a massage. The beautifully decorated room will be in perfect harmony with the theme of your weekend. Click here to check the hotel’s website.
I hope you enjoyed your get-away weekend in Provins.