With an easy connection from London, Paris is somewhere I love to return to. While I enjoy exploring Paris it’s also fun to explore nearby areas. One place that doesn’t seem to get enough recognition is the Medieval city of Provins which is a shame as it makes a great day trip from Paris.
- 1 A Brief History of Provins
- 2 How to Get to Provins from Paris
- 3 Things to do in Provins
- 4 Where to Eat in Provins
- 5 Where to Stay in Provins
- 6 Tips for Your Trip to Provins
- 7 Plan Your France Itinerary
A Brief History of Provins
Provins is a small Medieval city in the Il-de-France region known for its medieval fortifications and well preserved city walls. In the Middle Ages it was one of the most famous towns in France where annual trade fairs, known as Champagne Fairs, were held. It was at these trade fairs that brought northern Europe into contact with the Mediterranean.
With its stunning Medieval architecture and the well preserved city walls, Provins proudly became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
How to Get to Provins from Paris
Provins is only 48 miles (80 kilometres) south east of Paris so it makes a great day trip. There are a couple of different ways to get to Provins from Paris, all of which are easy, direct routes to take.
Getting to Provins by Train
Provins is easy to get to from Paris by train. With a direct route from Paris EST, it only takes 1 hour and 20 minutes to get there.
Trains to Provins leave Gare de l’Est every hour on the SNCF Transilien Line P with the first train leaving at 6:46am. Provins is within Zone 5 of the transport zone so train fares are included within the Paris Visite zone 1-5 travel card. If you only have the zone 1-3 travel card the train fare will cost €12 each way.
Trains back to Paris Gare de l’Est also run once an hour until late in the evening so plenty of time to make the most out of your time there.
Getting to Provins by Car
The route to Provins from Paris is pretty straight forward by car. The journey takes roughly the same time by car as it does by train. Depending on how clear the roads are you may get there as quickly as 1 hour and 10 minutes but if there’s traffic it could take up to 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Things to do in Provins
The Provins Pass
With a Provins Pass you can save money on some museums and monuments as well as get discounted prices for shows. The Pass will get you free access to the Caesar’s Tower, the Tithe Barn, the Underground Galleries and the Provins Museum.
The Provins pass costs €11 for adults and €7.50 for children up to 12 years. You can also buy a family pass (2 adults and 2 children) for €34.50. What’s great about the pass is that is last for a whole year from the date purchased so you have some flexibility if you decide to visit on a different day.
Ramparts and Fortified Gates
The first thing you will notice when approaching Provins are the ramparts and fortified gates once used to protect the city. While not all of the former wall is standing, 1.2 kilometres and two gates have survived for almost 800 years.
It is definitely worth taking the time to walk around the ramparts to truly appreciate how magnificent they are. Thanks to the steps you can walk down in the ditches to truly get a sense of how tall they are. Plus what’s also great is that in certain areas you can even climb the ramparts.
The Tour César
The Tour César or Caesar’s Tower in English, was built in the 12th Century and is the symbol of the Medieval city of Provins.
The Big Tower has served as a watchtower and also a prison. Now it’s the best place to go for fantastic aerial views of Provins and the surrounding area.
Entrance to the Caesar Tower is included in the Pass Provins. If you don’t buy the pass in advance tickets cost €4.30 for adults and €2.80 for children up to 12 years old.
Saint-Quiriace Collegiate Church
Opposite the Tour César you’ll find the Saint-Quiriace Collegiate Church. This 12th Century church is dedicated to Saint Quiriace or Cyriaque of Jerusalem.
The Underground Tunnels
While the true purpose of the underground tunnels of Provins remains a mystery to this day, the tunnels go on for many kilometres under the city.
Today, the tunnels can be visited in the summer months by guided tours. The tours for French and English are at different times so make sure to check the timetable for the tour in your desired language.
Tours of the underground tunnels are roughly 45 minutes long and are included in the Pass Provins. If you don’t buy the pass in advance tickets cost €4.50 for adults and €3 for children up to 12 years old.
Museum of Provins
Located in ‘Maison Romane’, one of the oldest civil building, is the Museum of Provins. Inside you’ll find a collection of exceptional treasures from archaeological excavations done in Provins and the surrounding area.
Entrance to the museum is included in the Pass Provins. If you don’t buy the pass in advance tickets cost €4 for adults and €2 for children up to 12 years old.
Le Roserale de Provins
The Rose Garden of Provins should not be missed when visiting Provins, especially if you come in the summer. The garden tells the story of the rose through more than 450 varieties of rose trees.
Entrance to the garden is free for children under 12 years old. For adults the price is €4.50 in Autumn / Winter and €7 in Spring / Summer. If you’ve purchased a Provins Pass the Spring / Summer price is reduced to €6.50.
The Tithe Barn
This former merchant’s house from the 13th Century is one of the best preserved buildings in Provins. The tithe barn is now home to a pertinent exhibition representing merchants and trades of the Middle Ages. With the audio guided tour you’ll learn about the cloth merchant, the craft of wool, the public writer and more.
Entrance to the Tithe Barn is included in the Pass Provins. If you don’t buy the pass in advance tickets cost €4.30 for adults and €2.80 for children up to 12 years old.
Where to Eat in Provins
With all that exploring you’ll no doubt be wanting a great place for a rest and some good local French food. To get a great feel of the area the best place to go for food is the Place du Châtel, the main square. Here you’ll find plenty of local restaurants, cafes and sweet eateries to chose from where you can watch the world pass you by.
Where to Stay in Provins
While a trip to Provins makes a great day trip from Paris, if you want to make the most out of your visit why not book a hotel for the night and make it a two day trip.
Le Cesar Hotel – If you’re looking for a hotel with the best location than look no further. This elegant 4 star hotel has a 24 hour front desk, breakfast buffet, a spa and is pet friendly. Check here for price and availability
Ibis Hotel – Situated at the entrance of Provins, the Ibis Hotel is a great choice for those looking for a familiar hotel. Check here for price and availability
Demeure des Vieux Bains – If you prefer to stay at B&B’s rather than hotels this might be the perfect option for you. With a beautiful garden and terrace you can really relax here. Check here for price and availability
Tips for Your Trip to Provins
- Do check train times in advance to make sure they are running
- Do get the Provins Pass if you’re planning on seeing all 4 historical sites
- Make sure to wear sensible shoes you can comfortably walk around all day in
- It’s worth getting an early train to give yourself longer in town
- Or better, turn this into a 2 day trip so you can enjoy the city at night
- The Underground Tunnels have limited tours in English so check ahead to make sure you don’t miss out
Plan Your France Itinerary
Looking for more amazing places to see in France? Why not check out some of these
- Places To Visit in Northern France
- Wine Tasting in Corsica
- 35 Books Set in France
- Famous Bridges in Europe
- 125 Cool Things to do in Europe
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