Thursday, November 30, 2023

How To Go to Provins, a Paris Day Journey for Households

The medieval city of Provins is the perfect day journey for households. It’s solely an hour and half from Paris by practice or practice and bus, it’s extremely reasonably priced with most sights costing a couple of euros and lots of free, and it’s immersive. If you wish to step again into the French Center Ages, that is the easiest way to do it.

Provins was the ultimate day of our first journey to Paris with children, and I’m so glad we bought the possibility to point out them one thing past the massive metropolis. Right here’s the easiest way to go to this UNESCO World Heritage Website boasting over 50 historic monuments.

What To See in Provins for Households

Tour Ce?sar towering over Provins / photo credit: JF Bénard

Tour César towering over Provins / picture credit score: JF Bénard

Because you’re in a walled metropolis, you naturally need to discover town partitions. Even higher, in Provins, you’ll be able to stroll on them! They’re over 80 ft excessive and over a mile lengthy, providing views of town and an up-close have a look at the ramparts themselves.

The 5 high historic sights, apart from the ramparts, are the Tour César, the Tithe Barn, the Provins Museum, the Underground Galleries, and the Saint-Ayoul Priory. Every is situated inside a medieval constructing, so the setting is simply as a lot part of the expertise because the displays. The Caesar’s Preserve was my favourite, but when you are able to do all 5, you completely ought to.

Grange aux Dimes exhibit in Provins / picture credit score: JF Bénard

Listed here are the monuments on the move. We have been capable of simply barely squeeze in 4 of the 5 together with two reveals, however we didn’t spend as lengthy on the Tithe Barn as we wished.

  • Tour César: This tower provides every part from a dungeon as much as panoramic views of the city. Climbing throughout this tower (as I reminded everybody to carry on alongside the curving, stone steps) was one of many highlights of our journey.
  • Tithe Barn: Referred to as the Grange aux Dîmes in French, this lined market as soon as housed the Commerce Festivals of Champagne that made Provins one of many busiest cities in Europe 9 centuries in the past. You’ll be able to see full-size replicas of sellers and their wares as you observe alongside along with your audio information in English.
  • Underground Galleries: Solely a part of “Les souterrains de Provins” are open to the general public, and you should go along with a information. They’ve one English tour in the course of the day, however even on our 45-minute French tour, we have been delighted to discover these subterranean tunnels as soon as used as a quarry, storerooms, a hideout for refugees, and gathering place for freemasons.
  • Saint-Ayoul Priory: The oldest elements of this priory date again earlier than the yr 1000. The positioning options marvelous frescoes, stained glass, a cloister, cultural displays, and extra with an audio information in English that can assist you uncover all its secrets and techniques.
  • Provins Museum: Artifacts and art work from prehistoric instances to the nineteenth century are on show on a number of flooring inside this previous stone constructing.

Get the Provins Cross, which incorporates all 5 monuments above, plus discounted tickets for different experiences on the town, together with the open-air reveals I point out beneath. It’s presently €15 per grownup or €10 for teenagers ages 4-12. When you’ve got two or extra children, get the household move for €45, masking two adults and as much as 5 children.

Underground galleries /  picture credit score: JF Bénard

Banquet des Troubadours Dinner Present

By far essentially the most distinctive expertise of our go to to Provins was the three-hour Banquet des Troubadours. To dine, we descended right into a vaulted room relationship to the Twelfth-century, the place we have been invited to decorate up in interval robes and hats if we selected.

An genuine Twelfth-century room for the feast / picture credit score: Banquet des Troubadours

The area is intimate, and also you’re near the leisure, a troupe of troubadours who play music, juggle, stroll on stilts, do magic, act out skits, and extra between the 5 programs of the meal. The present is in French, so a couple of of the puns will likely be missed in the event you solely communicate English, however you’ll be able to observe together with a lot of it by way of their intelligent pantomimes and bodily gags. 

And most of the tips, comparable to their feats with the diabolo, want no translation. Most beautiful of all is the fire-breathing finale. The youngsters have been duly impressed and have been nonetheless speaking about it after we left the tavern.

Fiery acrobatics for the finale / picture credit score: Banquet des Troubadours

The meal itself is pleasantly spaced out. You’re consuming meals that would have been served in the course of the Center Ages, so no tomatoes, because the troubadours will inform you, since these haven’t been found but. It begins with vegetable soup. Then you definitely’re served a scrumptious pork puff pastry, our favourite, earlier than the heartiest entree: a stew full of rooster, beef, vegies, and lentils. To wrap it up, there’s brie after which a dessert plate that allows you to pattern a number of candy treats, together with pear with rose and a slice of gingerbread.

Even choosy eaters will discover one thing they like among the many many choices. In the event you don’t eat pork, you’ll be able to request a honeyed vegetable puff pastry prematurely. The youngsters appeared to love the dessert greatest, however the rooster legs in the primary dish have been additionally successful. They usually ate the brie!

In true dinner theater model, the troubadours name for viewers participation. All of the company stood up and did a easy dance in a circle the troubadours taught us. At one level, the jester referenced “les Américains” — that was us — since America hadn’t been found but. (In the event you don’t communicate French and don’t need to take part, you’ll be able to all the time say that. They know sufficient English that they’ll perceive you.)

I like to recommend going for lunch since dinner on Saturday would get you again to Paris fairly late. E book forward on-line to save lots of your seat.

E book Your Keep in Provins

Extra Household-Pleasant Leisure

The princess and knight at La Legende des Chevaliers show in Provins / photo credit: Equestrio

The princess and knight at La Legende des Chevaliers present in Provins / picture credit score: Equestrio

Whether or not you see the dinner present with the troubadours or not, you need to see one of many open-air medieval performances that usually run from late March to early November. These embrace:

  • The Legends of the Knights, that includes jousting, dressage, and a narrative with a cheerful ending
  • The Eagles of the Ramparts, a show of horseback falconry with eagles, hawks, vultures, and extra
  • Hearth Horses, a nighttime present a part of the Provins by Candlelight competition the primary Saturday of July and August

We noticed the primary of those talked about above: La Légende des Chevaliers. The story was in French, however that didn’t matter because it was principally concerning the acrobatics, horsemanship, the catapult, and jousting. It’s simple to know that there’s a monster attacking town, and that the “good guys” win the day. Afterward, we purchased some souvenirs on the store for the youngsters.

When To Go to Provins

The Rose Backyard of Provins in bloom / picture credit score: Roseraie de Provins

Summer season is the busiest time to go to, nevertheless it’s additionally when essentially the most is occurring. The Provins Rose Backyard erupts into bloom with the nice and cozy climate. That is the place the well-known Rose of Provins comes from.

Examine the agenda on-line to see what’s scheduled earlier than you go. The Medieval Competition of Provin takes place each June and attracts large crowds as the complete city is immersed even deeper within the Center Ages with avenue performers, particular occasions, and festivities. The Harvest Competition in August is one other historic occasion that focuses on bygone days with lots for households to get pleasure from.

You’ll be able to go on the shoulder seasons in spring or fall, and most of the seasonal reveals are nonetheless taking place, however crowds are a lot lighter. We went on the primary day of their vacationer season, the ultimate Saturday in March, and it was a bit chilly however not crowded in any respect, so we have been capable of benefit from the quiet cobblestone streets virtually to ourselves at instances.

Christmas is one other wonderful time to go to for his or her annual yuletide market.

Attending to Provins

Saint-Ayoul Church lit up at evening / picture credit score: JF Bénard

Provins is straightforward to succeed in from Paris. Take the direct practice from Gare de l’Est, leaving each hour, or, if it’s not operating, you’ll must take a practice after which a bus. That is what we did, and it didn’t add on a lot time and was fairly simple to navigate with Google Maps.

Prepare and bus fare are low cost, however we’d bought a Navigo move for every of the 4 of us, so transportation was lined with the move. Listed here are some extra instructions on attending to Provins.

You’ll be dropped off proper by the tourism workplace. They’ve restrooms, maps, individuals who communicate English, and even a present store. We picked up a memento right here as nicely to recollect our go to. I solely hope we will return sometime as a result of we weren’t fairly capable of match all of it in inside 9 hours. 

We totally loved our adventure-filled household day journey from Paris.

Concerning the Creator

Cheryl Rodewig is storyteller, marketer, and award-winning characteristic author specializing in journey. Her Venn diagram consists of minimalism, waterfalls, French, and the em sprint. Discover her at or on Twitter at @cherylrodewig.

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