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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Bates

Provins: a wonderful day out whilst in Paris

Updated: May 20

Paris is a great destination to visit, there is the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge to check out but there are times where I wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle and do something different. With the fantastic public transport on offer in the French capital, there are plenty of day trip options on offer. The main ones are Versailles and Eurodisney but there is a hidden gem in the small town of Provins to the south-east.

Provins, France
The medieval city walls of Provins

Taking a train from Gare de l’Est, the journey takes about one hour and twenty minutes before arriving on the outskirts of the town centre. I came here for one reason, to see all the medieval buildings and find out why the town was enlisted to UNESCO world heritage sites list back in 2001. Arriving was simple, at the train station there is a visitor centre (as well as a good cafe selling a great range of hot and cold food/drinks) then it was a case of following the pedestrian signs (signposted for the medieval city) which follows one road until a hill is reached. This will take about ten minutes but on the way there are some pretty buildings and a couple of small rivers which are especially nice in the summer months as locals put out a lot of flowers in their baskets to brighten up the place.

The walk up the hill (which is on Rue de petits lions where the road turns into a huge staircase), is a little bit steep but a short affair. I kept following the road, path, road until I reached the summit where I came across La collégiale Saint-Quiriace, an Catholic church which has stood here since the 12th century. Checking out the inside of the church was a pleasant affair but it's the area outside the main entrance where there are a few trees and benches dotted about makes this a very peaceful place to sit down and recover from the walk up the hill. This is a good idea for visitors before heading to the next sight I came across.

Across the road is the Tour César (Caesar’s Tower) which has also stood here since the 12th century and has been used as a prison, military use and a lookout tower. Paying a small fee I walked into the lower parts of the tower where museum displays greeted me  but the further up I walked, the narrower the staircases and the steeper the steps became. Half-way up I was able to walk out onto the balcony and take in views from all angles of Provins and the surrounding countryside. The views are amazing but what caught my eye the most is the amazing view of the church across the public square. It just stands out and it is the symbolic symbol for the town.

At the top of the tower I could go inside the bell room where the bells are sometimes used (I was led to believe) but didn’t stay in there too long as there was a lot of pigeon waste all over the woodwork and floors. The birds sure have found a good resting place to get away from the heat of the summer sun.

Nearby is Place du Châtel, a nice small square where there are a few restaurants and bars to enjoy, eat and drink but the main thing is to relax after walking up the hill and tower. This is a good stopping off point before doing the walk down Rue Saint-Jean (which is a two minute walk away) which took me to the northern outskirts of town. Here there is the Porte Saint-Jean, a medieval gateway and one of a few entrances into the city. Taking a walk up the nearby staircase and stepped onto the old city walls (which join onto the gate) and took on the views to the west. There are quite a few parts of the city walls which visitors could walk on but I decided to stay in this section.

My day ended by chilling out in a bar before heading back to Paris. In the small new centre there are very few bars and restaurants to check out if visitors fancy a meal. Provins is a fantastic day trip to do when exploring Paris and I was surprised as well as shocked by what this little town has to offer. There is so much history here but even coming here for a walk, there is a hidden gem around every corner to explore. I am so pleased to make this trip and we recommend this to anyone in the area.

Tips to make your day pleasant: 

  1. Make sure you have good footwear - there is a lot of walking on the cobbled streets, a hill to the tower and the church and walking along the stone city walls. The more comfortable the footwear, the pleasant the day will be.

  1. Do and try to arrive early to allow more time to do all the sights. I arrived around mid-morning and like I have mentioned, I missed out on the underground tunnels tour which I was gutted about. Plus they also do tours in English at certain times but most of the tours are conducted in French.

How to get to & where it is located: Provins is located south-east of Paris and is easy to get to.  There are three airports in nearby Paris, Charles de Gaulle being the main one just to the north and to the south is Orly airport. Both airports are connected with the RER and Paris Metro system and connect to all the major train stations in the city. The third airport to get to is Beauvais which is about an hour’s drive north of the capital and is used by no-frills airlines.

By train, well where do I start? Passengers will need to head to Gare de l'Est in Paris, to reach the station by public transport click on the link to the metro and RER system website (RER being the faster underground services and metro services stops at every station). Provins is in the Paris transport region zone 5. I was lucky to have the Paris Visite travelcard zones 1-5 which includes this stunning town and is on the train line from Gare de l’Est as previously mentioned. Otherwise a ticket is around €11 for a return journey. Make sure you have planned out the day and find out the train times as there is only one train an hour in each direction. The journey takes about one hour and twenty minutes which involves going through the suburbs of Eastern Paris and then the countryside comes into view. Before Provins the railway line skirts the edge of a forest which gives the journey a view before arriving on the southern side of the town centre.

Accommodation: There are a lot of accommodation options and a lot of websites which can do some great deals. My first point of call is always and can offer a range of hostels, hotels, campsites, apartments, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and they can also be booked up on my website. After that I always have a look through AirBnb for great deals on apartments and other lodgings especially when traveling as a family.

Currency: France uses the Euro currency which is also widely used in most European countries. Currency can be exchanged at the airports and train stations (for a huge fee) so I would recommend either going to a currency exchange place downtown, to a bank (if they have good rates) or if you got a good bank account with fantastic exchange rates, then use an ATM machine (may incur a small fee but I always do this option as I got good bank accounts). 

Language: It’s France, so it would be French. However at major tourist sites, a lot of staff do speak English (it is not like the old days where French people refuse to speak English, that has changed you will find the locals here love to practise their English as well as visitors trying to learn French).

Watch out for: Compared to Paris, nothing goes on here but use common sense. Remember when traveling around Paris, watch out for dodgy people selling fake souvenirs near the tourist sites and ladies who want to plat women’s hair for a huge fee. Always watch out in the Metro system, people will approach you offering you their services to help buy tickets or try and sell you used tickets. Never buy anything from them. Go to the ticket machines or ticket offices at the big stations. 

Flying into this area? Then I would recommend using Skyscanner to find flights as that is my first point of call. Then if necessary use the airlines directly to find a good deal. I sometimes use Momondo as well to compare prices before booking.

Travel insurance: Need insurance? Safety Wing offers coverage for a lot of adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and so forth. I never travel without travel insurance. I highly recommend them for those who need travel insurance.

Need a visa for France? Always check if you need a visa when coming to France, especially for those who come from outside Europe. 

If you would like to share my blog post via Pinterest, please share the pin below. 

Provins - Pinterest

Please note that while I was not working with any company based in Provins, my review and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support! There maybe some links above which are affiliate and are at no additional cost to you. If my readers use them, I earn a commission to buy their products and remember, I only mentioned products and companies I use. The income from this keeps this website going. Thank you. 

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