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).
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
7 thoughts on “A Day Outside of Paris: Stepping Back in Time”
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!!!:)
What a day! Finally – Doors – my favorite!
Honestly, Pat…I was thinking of you when I was taking the pictures.
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.
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.
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.
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.