Day Trip from Paris : Provins
Provins (the S is not prounced) is a little over an hour by train from Paris train station Gare de L’Est. It is a fantastic place to go with kids of all ages during the high seasons (April through October). The main attraction are the the medieval shows that are performed but also for the medieval architecture. And even if you aren’t into medieval, there’s still plenty of that small-French-town-charm to indulge in!
Provins was found dead in the 9th century by monks fleeing Norman’s, and became a very important city by the 13th century where it was known for its fairs and wool production. Back then the population was around 80,000, which is much more than it claims now (around 11,000). Red roses, brought there by crusaders, became the badge of the house of Lancaster a franco-british dynasty and was the start of the other draw to this medieval town. The other draw being its history of nights and intrigue.
We brought Bébé Chéri there to indulge in his fantasy of being a knight! We brought along his helmet and shield (his sword had been broken so getting him a new one was one of our goals). We arrived in time for lunch and walked from the train station to the center of the low town. There are pretty streets where you cross little rivers and canals.
But we were hungry so we didn’t linger long and headed to the center of the low town. We had a copious plates served at l’Appart, located on a lovely pedestrian part of the street rue du Val. The service was nice and the food delicious.
Lunch was followed by a slow meander up the hill towards the old town. After ogling the views and houses on our way up, we were rewarded with the discovery of a pretty tree-spotted plaza with a merry-go-round, cafes and even a costume shop!
First order of business was the sword and the carousel for our little one. There’s nothing like seeing the magic of imagination in children!
Next we went to visit the medieval bookstore. Down a steep staircase with vaulted stone ceilings this was not like any book store I had ever seen!
And then off to the show…
On the edge of town near the ramparts which are impressive and massive, is the space where they put on the shows. Run by Equestrio, a troupe of crazy thespian horse riders that are as daring as they are talented, these cavaliers put on a show that is a good as watching a movie! The costumes are amazing and the stage is as realistic as you could want. We were all entirely enthralled for the whole 45 minute spectacle. Bébé Chéri had his little wooden sword raised and shouted bravely when the “bad guy” appeared.
We left Provins that day with a whiff of rose in our noses and an enthusiasm to return there soon. We have little french boy who has a wooden sword a vivid imagination making stories up of being a valiant knight.
It was nothing short of magical!
A dear friend who grew up in Provins has always described it as “not much to see, really” … but your post has me wondering whether he’s just being coy. It looks both beautiful and fascinating! Is there train service to the city itself? I’ve read conflicting info on how to get there, so I’d love to hear from someone who has actually made the trek (and with a child, no less!). Anyway … wonderful post!
There IS a train service direct from Paris! It’s easy and a great place to go especially with kids!!!
Wonderful to know. I will feel more confident marching up to the SNCF window with this information. 🙂
Gare de l’Est!