Excursion to Provins from Paris : discover the medieval city

Find all info for an original day-trip to Provins from Paris. Whether approaching Provins from the Brie plateau (Paris Region) to the west or from Champagne and the Voulzie Valley, this medieval town presents the eye-catching and distinctive  outlines of the Tour César of the dome of St-Quiriace Church.

The splendid ramparts contribute to the town’s medieval atmosphere and the rose gardens add to its visual appeal.

The lower town, a lively shopping center, sits at the foot of the promontory and extends along the River Voulzie and River Durteint.

Historic day-trip to Provins

The Provins fairs

In the Xth Century Provins became one of the economic capitals of the Champagne region, thanks to its two annual fairs which, with those of Troyes were among the largest in the region. Traders from the north and from the Mediterranean came here to do business.

Linen, silks, spices from the Orient and many walks of life: money agents and merchants among whom mingled the hard-working bourgeoisie of the region.

These fairs were prosperous until the early XIVth Century, when the political and economic weight shifted to Paris, eclipsing the Champagne region.

Roses

According to tradition it was Thibaud IV the Troubadour who brought roses back from Syria and grew them successfully there in Provins.

Edmund Lancaster brother of King of England married Blanch of Artois and was for a while suzerain of Provins, at which time he introduced the red rose into his coast of arms.

June is the best month to visit the rose beds at the Pépinière et Roseraie Vizier.

Sights at the Upper Town of Provins : top sights

The most impressive attractions of an excursion to Provins are mainly on the upper town.

The Tour César

Provins a medieval city . day-trip from Paris

Provins a medieval city a 1 hour from Paris

This superb 12 Century keep, 44m(144ft) high and flanked by four turrets, is the Emblem of the town. It was once part of the walls of the upper town. The pyramidal roof was built in the 16 Century. It is certainly one of the first thing you see when you arrive from Paris.

The  revetment wall which encloses the base of the keep was added by the English during the Hundred Years War, in order to house the artillery.

The guard-room on the first floor is octagonal and 11m(36ft) high: it is topped by vaulting formed of four arcades of pointed arches ending in a dome and pierced by an orifice through which the soldiers on the floor above were passed supplies. The gallery encircling the keep at the height of turrets was originally roofed over. One view extends over the town and the surrounding countryside.

A very narrow stairway leads to the upper level. Under the fine 16 century wooden roof are the bells of St-Quiriace, which have hung here since the church lost its bell-tower

Porte St Jean

St John’s Gateway was built in the XIII century . This stocky construction is flanked by two projecting towers which were added in the XIV century to support drawbridge.

The Ramparts of the od city of Provins

The town walls were built in the XII century and XIII century along an existing line of defence, then altered on several occasions. They constitute a very fine example of the medieval military architecture. A house straddling the curtain wall was the home of the Provins executioners. The last one to live here was Charles-Henri Sanson who executed Louis XVI. The most interesting part of the ramparts runs between Porte St-Jean and Porte de Jouy. the Tour and Engins, on the corner, links the two curtain wall.

In summer, on a space behind this tower, within th corer), the e ramparts, the falconers of the Eagles of Provins company put on a show of birds of prey.

Place du Chatel

This vast peaceful square, rectangular in shape, is bordered by attractive old houses : the 15 Century Maison des Quatres Pignons (south-west corner), the 13 Century Maison des Petits-plais (north-west corner), the Hotel de la Coquille to the north. The remains of Eglise St-Thibault(12 Century) stand on the north-east corner.

In the center, next to an old well with a wrought-iron cage, stands the Croix des Changes, where the edicts of to the Court of Champagne were posted.

Walk past the Musée de Provins et du Provinois, housed in one of the town’s oldest buildings, the Maison Romane (Romanesque House).

Eglise St-Quiriace

The church was begun in th 11th Century. The transept and nave date from the 13 Century, the dome from the 17 Century. On the square in front of the Church stands a Cross on the site of the old bell-tower which collapsed in 1689.

How to get in Provins from Paris

-by car : (1 hour from Paris) take the Autoroute A4 at porte de Bercy until the exit n°13 , take the D231 until Provins

-by train: a SNCF train links Provins from the Gare de l’Est in 1h30.

-guided tours: many excursions and guided visit of Provins are organized.

Read also excursions and day trips from Paris

official web site of the city of Provins : www.provins.net

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