When Magda posted about Provins I mentally bookmarked it for a day trip the next time I was in Paris. You know I love a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The train from Gare de l’Est takes 1 hour 15 minutes and costs just over 11€ each way. We made it to the town for lunchtime, thinking half a day would be plenty of time to see a little medieval village—we were wrong.
Provins is bigger than we thought, and the new town is old and pretty enough that we almost didn’t actually realise we hadn’t been wandering round the original fortified town. We even nearly caught the train back to Paris without setting foot inside the city walls, what fools!
Provins was incredibly quiet and it seems that’s usual for February, as both of our potential lunch options were closed. Luckily for us we stumbled across the excellent La Table Du Boucher and both opted for the two-course menu.
Climbing a hill, we noticed the buildings were getting older and suspected we were about to stumble across the city walls bordering the town. This was when we realised there was more to Provins—when we found the actual old town and realised we’d been outside it, in the new town, the whole time.
By this point, time was not on our side. We’d planned to catch the next train back to Paris but as they’re fairly regular, running about once an hour, we decided to skip it and explore Provins proper.
The medieval town of Provins became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, recognising how amazingly well-preserved it is and its involvement in the Champagne trading fairs (that were such a big part of the European economy in the 12th and 13th centuries).
It’s such a historic site that the one of the two sets of underground caves contains graffiti from the Bronze and Iron Ages. That’s 4,500-year-old graffiti!
Needless to say, Provins is beautiful.
The buildings are a mixture of timber-framed and stone-built and we daydreamed about buying and renovating some of the abandoned ones we saw. Imagine!
With the clock ticking, it was time to head to César’s Tower (which you can climb for a few Euros) before travelling back to Paris.