By Emily Ruck Keene
Most people think of Versailles when deciding to spend a day outside Paris. But if you’re looking for a less touristic alternative, you may want to consider a trip to the charming town of Provins, a UNESCO World Heritage site, only an hour and a half from Paris (south-east)…
History of Provins
The medieval town of Provins has existed since the Middle Ages, and now contains 58 listed monuments (definitely enough to fill a days-worth of exploring!) Split into Upper (Chatel) and Lower (Val) districts, the town has a rich and fascinating history. Home to trade fairs since 1120, Provins was one of the most important crossroads of the Middle Ages, attracting tradesmen from all over Europe and the East. Famous for its troubadours (medieval lyric poets) and trade fairs, the town has preserved its beautiful architecture, including the famous Caesar Tower as well as other impressive medieval fortifications.
What to Do
If you have the time, book seats at one of the four falconry, equestrian and gastronomic shows that Provins puts on: The Eagles of the Ramparts; The Legend of the Knights; The Age of the Ramparts; Banquet of Troubadours. The bird shows are particularly popular.
Caesar’s Tower is a must-see, if not just for the view and the walk along the ramparts. The Tithe Barn is also recommended, giving a fascinating insight into a medieval trade fair. For a younger crowd, don’t miss a visit to the underground tunnels once used by secret societies (but bring a sweater)! “Eglise” enthusiasts are spoilt for choice, with three unique churches to check out: Saint Quiriace, Saint Ayoul and Saint Croix in the Lower town. And, if you’re worried about sore feet, take a trip on the mini train which goes around the town and costs only 6 euro.
How to Get There
Take the train direct from Paris’ Gare de l’Est train station. Tickets can be bought from the green machines at the station and cost between 7-12 euros depending on what pass you have. Alternatively, the trip takes only one hour and ten minutes by car. If you do have a car, or are planning on spending a few days in the area, make the most of it and visit the Champagne region.
More out-of-Paris Plans
Hungry to see more outside Paris? Love art? Nature? A trip to the famous Giverny, aka Monet’s Gardens, is an absolute must. And what better way to appreciate the scenery than on a bike!