If you’ve never heard of Provins, you’re in good company.
Even the most savvy of seasoned travellers to the Champagne region of France might not find it in any standard guidebook.
But it’s a destination you must not miss if you’re in the Île-de-France region.
This delightful medieval village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It has more than fifty listed monuments showing off the expertise of architects, carpenters, stone masons and other craftsmen of the Middle Ages.
Half-timbered houses and quaint streets managed to escape the destruction that ravaged Europe for centuries – Provins stayed virtually untouched.
With ramparts and fortified gates, subterranean passages and the highlights of Caesar’s tower and the magnificent Saint-Quiriace church, Provins is a Mecca for those fascinated by times past.
Cultural heritage of Provins and the June Medieval Festival
During spring and summer, Provins becomes living history, welcoming visitors with hosts dressed in traditional costume, lively bands playing, and a range of exciting events.
Provins was famed for its troubadours, a literary legacy that continues.
Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Marcel Proust and Umberto Eco have all passed through Provins and evoked its charm in words.
Medieval life here was not all clashes and conflicts – Provins also became a centre of intellectual and artistic life.
Provins rings with the sound of musical events and street performance in June when the town holds its most fascinating festival, “Les Médiévales de Provins”.
Provins as a day trip from Paris
It’s hard to imagine being tired of Paris, but if the glamour of the City of Light has left you longing for lower-key pleasures, Provins is an unbeatable day-trip destination, and less than 80 km from the capital.
No need for a car – it’s an easy train ride, leaving every hour from Gare De L’Est.
The trip takes around an hour and a half, through the lovely landscape of Île-de-France.
It’s a bit of an uphill walk from Provins station to the centre of town, but in around fifteen minutes you’re in the picturesque cobble-stoned main square, where there are cafes and restaurants for a reviving stop.
A good restaurant
L’Esquisse restaurant is among the most charming, on the pretty Rue Couverte in the Upper Town.
It belong to the hotel Aux Vieux Remparts that has bright pleasant room and delectable comfort.
You could linger over lunch on the lovely flower-filled patio, and still have time for a saunter around the streets and perhaps for the afternoon falconry show up on the ramparts.
Leave time to browse the tempting little shops selling books, collectables, home-made chocolates and cookies.
You could even buy a hand woven basket to transport your purchases back to your Paris hotel.