"A romantic medieval village near Paris" Top 5 Page for this destination Provins by carolerica

Provins Travel Guide: 77 reviews and 210 photos

A brief history

The town's influence was at its highest point during the 12th and 13th centuries, the time of the celebrated Champagne Fairs. Famed for its troubadours, safe behind its fortified walls, Provins was a wealthy and much envied commercial town.

The Counts of Champagne who ruled over the region had understood the economic importance of long-distance trade, and used the strategic geographical position of the towns of Champagne to their advantage. On routes to eastern Europe, these towns straddled routes from both the North Sea and the Mediterranean ports, between the trade centers of Flanders and Italy, Flanders looking towards northern and eastern Europe, and Italy to Byzantium, Africa and the Orient. At that time, Provins was a major crossroads, with nine main roads and eleven secondary roads converging on it.

A great variety of products from all over Europe were traded there: wool, cloth, wine, furs, dyes, jewellery... Provins even minted its own coinage, and the Provins penny (denier provinois) was recognized and accepted throughout France. You must try to imagine the extraordinary bustle of people from all over Europe trading not only in goods, but also in ideas. Melting pots like this were essential to social progress.

Each country contributed some of its influence, and Champagne played a key role in literature, art and taste. It was during these good times that the basis for the wealth of the western world was laid, going hand-in-hand with increasingly refined cultural aspirations. Similarly, the Church was importing ivory and precious woods and stones from Africa to decorate religious objects.

This period of flourishing trade gradually declined during the fourteenth century as the trade routes shifted to the high Alpine passes and the straits of Gibraltar became more popular for shipping. The wars of Religion, plague, and the abolition of merchant prerogatives sealed the fate of the great fairs of Champagne not only in Provins, but also in Troyes, Lagny and Bar-sur-Aube.

Come visit and have fun

Provins is an exceptional showcase for civil, religious and military architecture. Sheltered behind its fortified walls, Provins invites you on a journey to Mediaeval times. Today Provins still boasts 58 monuments that are listed or registered on the inventory of France's Historical Monuments, inscribed on the world heritagelist of Unesco as an Urban ensemble.

The city has two distinctive parts: the lower city (ville basse) which is the more "modern" part of the city. If you come by train, you'll have to cross the lower city (have a quick look at the old houses on rue de la friperie. The upper city (ville haute) is the original medieval city tucked within its powerful walls, very well preserved in it's western parts.

Among the different sites to be found are: Caesar's Tower (Tour César), Saint Ayoul Church, Saint Quiriace Collegiate Church and the Tithe Barn (La Grange aux Dîmes).

Provins also offers you: a museum, a magnificent collection of ancient manuscripts (Fonds Anciens) that includes some splendidly rich illuminated texts, the Franciscan Convent, rose-petal speciality products, mosaic floor-tiles, shows (a birds of prey show, a reenactment of joust and tournaments and finaly a reproduction of medieval war training) and a number of traditional events and festivals.

To see the event calender, click here

As you reach Provins, head first towards the tourist office (Office du tourisme). It is located in the upper town, just outside the city's wall and Saint-John's door (Porte Saint-Jean). You can get a free map of the city, in french, english, german, spanish... And also can buy the museum pass.
There are four paying monuments in Provins, basically, if you visit at least three of these, then it is better to purchase the pass

PASS: adult: 9.20€ Child (5-12 year olds): 6.10€
MONUMENTS: adult: between 3€ & 3.70€ Child: between 1.50€ & 2.20€

the written information used to make this page was taken from the city of Provin's official website

Take your time, do not rush! The town is small enough to visit it in a day.
And for me, it is a very romantic city...
Strolling along the walls hand-in-hand, sharing a crêpe with some rose-petal jam (a specialty of Provins)...

  • Last visit to Provins: Sep 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (7)

Comments (2)

  • Maurizioago's Profile Photo
    Aug 26, 2010 at 2:07 AM

    I'm going to visit Provins if I can make it to Paris. Ciao!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Nov 6, 2007 at 11:29 AM

    I'm not sure I'd like to try writing with a goose feather (because goose feathers don't have built-in spelling checkers as far as I know), but otherwise this looks like a fascinating town, and not far from Paris, either. Good suggestion for a day trip.


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