A Day Outside of Paris: Stepping Back in Time

IMG_9829

Today, we decided to take a break from Paris, and we rode a train about 60 miles SE to the medieval town of Provins.  I will not make this post a boring history lesson, but Provins was very important during the Middle Ages as a Champagne Medieval Fair town.  It was (and is) surrounded by fortified walls and was a wealthy and important commercial trading place.  You can google it all if you are interested.  For us…it was just a very quaint, SUPER old place to visit, full of charm and old architecture and we ended the day watching a spectacular falconry show (details on that later).

IMG_1749
Gare de l”Est Train Station

IMG_1750

IMG_1751

IMG_1760
French countryside

All that I can say about Provins is that it is a very photogenic place.  I took a record 459 photographs while I was there.  That is definitely a new one for me, to take that many photos in one day, in one place.  But everything was so photo-ready…everywhere you turn, it’s a post card shot!

IMG_9717

I do not know details about most of what I took pictures of, but I do know that Provins dates back to the 11th century…and much of what you see in these pictures was built in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.   In fact, Provins is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  As an American, its hard to wrap your brain around something that old…so just enjoy the pictures,…for us it was a perfect day.

We started by having a picnic lunch on one of the ramparts…we had a view of the French Countryside on one side and the old town on the other.  I mean seriously….who can say they had lunch on a 12th century medieval wall?

IMG_9731

IMG_9735

IMG_9729

IMG_9755

IMG_9746
You can see from Josette and Lena just how large these walls were

After our picnic lunch and strolling above and below the walls, we ventured into the town and wandered around.  As I said, it’s like stepping back in time into another world.  Warning: there was something very interesting about the doors throughout the town that I really liked, so you will see a LOT of doors! It should also be noted that Provins might look like a movie set, but it is a real, living town…people still live and work here!  It might look frozen in time, but it is still alive in 2014.

IMG_9681

IMG_9700

IMG_0004

IMG_9905

IMG_1777
Medieval Sorbet

IMG_9903

IMG_9902

IMG_1774
Ceasar Tower Selfie

IMG_9787

IMG_9786

IMG_9697

IMG_0003

IMG_0074

IMG_0075

IMG_9899

In the Center of the town is Caesar’s Palace, which was built on a rocky hill in the beginning of the 12th century.  It was used as a watchtower, a prison, a bell tower, and a place of military retreat.  The tour info said that it was a  symbol of the Earl of Champagne’s power to all that saw it (in case they got any ideas to attack).  We climbed all the way to the top of the tower.  To get to the top, you had to go up very narrow, steep, dark little stairs…a bit claustrophobic but really sort of fun.  Once up there, the timber frame for the roof was amazing, and there were a set of bells that had been cast in 1511.  The 360 view of the town and surrounding countryside was really beautiful.

IMG_9998
The imposing Cesar’s Tower
IMG_9892
Technically, this was climbing DOWN the stairs, but you can see how narrow they were…and these were the ones with a railing and light…there were more narrow, steeper ones without lights

IMG_9883

IMG_9877
The doorways were super narrow…
IMG_9856
The impressive timber framing at the tower

IMG_9862

IMG_9873

IMG_9860
The view was spectacular

IMG_9859

IMG_9865

IMG_9811

IMG_9828

Next up, we walked down to the Church at St. Quiriace, which was begun in 1160 by King Henri I….but over the centuries, parts of the church were reconstructed, renovated, and it was practically destroyed in the French Revolution…but what remains is amazing.  From the outside it is quite plain, dark and dreary looking.  Apparently, the $$ to fancy up the exterior never came thru, so it was left very simple.  But once you step inside, prepare for your jaw to drop.  It was beautiful, surprisingly large.

IMG_9708
Walking to the Church

IMG_0043

IMG_0044

IMG_0045

IMG_0013

IMG_0017

IMG_0015

IMG_1798

IMG_0026

IMG_0024

IMG_0027

IMG_0029

IMG_0023

And to end the day, we got tickets to a falconry show called “The Eagles of the Ramparts”.  They have several different Renaissance-type shows in Provins (it is a tourist town)…but we were intrigued by this one.   It was 100% in french, and we had no idea what they said the entire 45 minutes…but it was so cool!!  They had falcons, Bald Eagles, Owls, Condors,…and these birds were HUGE…and they would fly back and forth so low…they wings would graze your head (at least twice for Josette).  It was something I have never seen before.  Really interesting experience.

IMG_9914
The stage for the show

IMG_9916

IMG_9918

IMG_9921

IMG_9934

IMG_9938

IMG_9965

IMG_9954

IMG_9926

IMG_9940

IMG_9946

IMG_9961

IMG_9924

And that was our day in the medieval town of Provins!  We hopped on the train back to Paris and enjoyed another nice dinner at home.

IMG_0068

IMG_0066

IMG_0053

IMG_9688

IMG_9683

At the food market on Sunday we bought some fresh pesto gnocchi…delicioso!   We rested for a bit…and then headed out to see the Arc de Triomphe.  We wanted to see some sights at night, and we knew the view of the Eiffel Tower would be great.   So, after climbing up that tower in Provins earlier in the day, we climbed another 300+ stairs to the top of the Arc de Trimpohe!  No need for the gym on this trip!

IMG_0079

IMG_0155

IMG_0152

IMG_0149

IMG_0137

IMG_0166

IMG_0099

IMG_0120

IMG_0091

IMG_0126

IMG_0104IMG_0106

IMG_0175

7 thoughts on “A Day Outside of Paris: Stepping Back in Time

  1. Just wow!!! Amazing pictures!!! This is truly a once in a lifetime experience. You guys are seeing everything and really experiencing so much! Lena looks like she is having a blast!! No need to approve my comment for everyone to see…I just wanted you to know how much I am enjoying your trip!!!:)

  2. Jaw dropping photos!! I don’t even know where to start. Just walking around in such an old town must have been quite an experience. The countryside, the massive wall, that iron work door, the arches in the church, the gorgeous stained glass, I could go on and on! Thanks for sharing your photos. Have you thought about doing a short video???? Again, I am super jealous.

    1. I’m glad you are enjoying the posts…but regarding Provins…what about the birds!!! I thought you would really like the shots of the bald eagle that grazed our heads! It was really scary/amazing/cool/surreal.

      1. I commented on Facebook. There is just so much to reply about, you forget while you are typing. The birds are great! Isn’t it amazing how quiet an owl can be in flight. I would have truly enjoyed the up close experience.

  3. I love your blog and your photography is incredible. My 9th trip to Paris will be in December and after seeing your photos, definitely want to go to Provins. It will be interesting to see what it looks like in winter…..beauty in all seasons.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s