Forts, old churches and stone houses… Everything in Provins looks like it used to be back in the Middle Ages. Slightly more than an hour away from Paris, this French village frozen in time is a perfect destination for history lovers.
With its 58 listed historic monuments, this location has certainly the charm of ancient times. It is divided between the upper and lower town, which are also known as the castle and the valley respectively. It used to be a very successful commercial town, which even produced its own coins. Now, since 2001, it is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The first thing that strikes you when you arrive to Provins it’s the 2km long fortified wall that is still standing. Built in the 13th century, this wall used to be 5km long and used to be a protection for the inhabitants of the land. It was also a sign of the power of the lords who owned the land (Earls of Champagne).
There are plenty of historical places to visit, from “The Tithe Barn”, where the covered markets used to be in the 13th century’s Fairs of Champagne, to the underground galleries and Catholic churches. It’s not to be forgotten that religion was a central characteristic of medieval times, and the Catholic Church played a central role in this period. That is why, visiting temples such as The Saint-Quiriace Collegiate church, the Saint-Ayoul and Sainte-Croix churches, the Franciscan Abbey and the Bell Tower of Notre-Dame du Val is worthwhile.
The Caesar tower is certainly another must see point. It dates back to the 12th century, even though its actual structure was completed later in the 18th century. It used to be a prison and watchtower, since it’s located in the upper town. Now house of the bells of The Saint-Quiriace Collegiate church, this tower also has interesting rooms such as the vaulted room and the Governor’s office.
True history lovers will also enjoy the multiple shows that the village offers. From banquets with jugglers to knights’ shows and competitions, tourists can live a complete medieval experience.
Where to stay
If you want to stay in a proper medieval cottage, with touches of modern decoration, an option is Les Volets Bleus. It is located right in the heart of Provins, half way between its modern commercial centre and its historical one. This house (100 m2 ) can host up to 6 people. It has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living room. A nice characteristic of this rental is that it allows you to see a view of the Convent of the Cordelières from the first floor and it also has its own patio.
Just 8km away from Provins, you can also live the experience of staying in a renovated farm in the village of Savins. With its three spacious guest rooms, La Marvilie can host up to 7 people. One of the rooms has been adapted to be able to host disabled guests. The living room can be transformed into a reception hall for up to 50 people, which can make this rental the perfect location for a wedding or any big celebration. This is a great place if you like nature because it is surrounded by a 6000 m2 park.