Provins: A fantastic day trip from Paris

posted in: France | 47

Paris is a great destination to visit, there is the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge to check out but there are times where we 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 - day trip from Paris
The highlight of Provins has to be the Caesar’s Tower

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. We 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 good cafe selling a great range of hot and cold food/drinks) then it was simply 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.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris

Provins, France - day trip from Paris

Provins, France - day trip from Paris

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. We kept following the road, path, road until we reached the summit where we came across La collégiale Saint-Quiriace, a 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 which 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 we saw.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
The church as seen from the Caeser’s Tower
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
The church and the public square
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Inside the church

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 we walked into the lower parts of the tower where museum displays greeted us but the further up we walked, the narrower the staircases and the steeper the steps. Half-way up we were 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 our 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.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
The church and the Caesar’s Tower in one view.
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Caesar’s Tower, a view from the west…….
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
….and a view from the south

At the top of the tower we could go inside the bell room where they are sometimes used (we are lead to believe) but we 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.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
A view from the tower
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Claire taking in the beautiful surroundings of Provins
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
A beautiful sight, the town of Provins from the tower.
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Just taking in the quietness of the town. So peaceful at the top of the tower.
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Right at the top, inside of the tower. Just don’t touch the wood.

Nearby is Place du Châtel, a nice small square where there are a few restaurants and bars to enjoy where you can eat and drink but more importantly, 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 us 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. We took 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 is quite a few parts of the city walls which visitors can walk on but we decided to stay on this section.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
A beautiful street in Provins
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Place du Chatel

Provins, France - day trip from Paris

Provins, France - day trip from Paris

Provins, France - day trip from Paris

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Porte Saint-Jean
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
The city walls on the western side of Provins

The reason why we returned to ground level was to take in the city walls from outside the city. There is a road from the gate heading northwards (signposted to a cemetery) and this took us to the northern side of the city (about a ten – fifteen minute walk). There are some great photography opportunities to be had but there are also a few benches to sit on and take a view of this side of the city. Above all, it is a pleasant walk around with not a sound to be heard and a soul in sight.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
The north-western point of the city walls.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
The walk on the road alongside the northern side of Provins. Visitors can walk on the grass down below alongside the walls (to the right of the picture).
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Porte de Jouy

We entered the city again via the northern gate (Porte de Jouy) and followed the road which took us to the main square, passing this which took us down a hill into the newer part of town. At the bottom of the hill is Les Souterrains, a series of underground tunnels where the exact use of them is unknown but properly stored a lot of wine. We didn’t go in as we missed the last tour of the day but is worth a mention as it is one of the highlights of the town.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
The north-eastern part of the city walls, a view from Porte de Jouy
Provins, France - day trip from Paris
Beautiful street in medieval Provins

Our 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 we were surprised as well as shocked on 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. We are so pleased to make this trip and we recommend this to anyone in the area.

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
The town hall in Provins

Tips to make your day pleasant:

Provins is in the Paris transport region zone 5. We were 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.

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.

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

Provins, France - day trip from Paris
A church in the new part of Provins

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Provins, France - a great day trip from Paris

47 Responses

  1. I’ve heard of Provins, but I didn’t realize it was so medieval –and the gardens around there looks great. Paris has so many options for day trips, small town and chateaux, that it’s hard to choice, but a medieval look with a nice town makes a good option

  2. Wow! What an amazing place. Very interesting buildings and the streets look so peaceful.

  3. I plan on going to Paris and I’ll make sure to include Provins in my itinerary. This town looks like a beautiful place to explore. I saved your article coz I find it really helpful.

  4. I love these pictures! I enjoy medieval cities and towns in France! Thanks for sharing

  5. What a beautiful little town to go and explore on my next visit to Paris! Thank you very much! Your photographs are just beautiful.

  6. Medieval Provins looks like a fantastic day trip from Paris. I’d love to walk those streets and sample a meal while taking in the atmosphere. I’d love to explore the church, and the tower would be a “must see” for me. It’s not just the views from up in the tower, but the the idea of being part of something that has been around for so long. Can you imagine everything the Tour César has seen? Incredible!
    Patricia recently posted…Exploring High Ridge Manor: a Bed and Breakfast High Above Paso Robles

  7. Great tips! This looks like such a great escape from the big city, and the perfect spot to get away from the throngs of crowds at the Eiffel Tower and Versailles.
    Tamara Elliott recently posted…The best things to do in Panama City, Panama in just one day

  8. What a charming French town. Looks like a fairytale spot with cobblestone streets, colourful flowers and even a castle…My kind of place.

  9. Such a cute town! I’m a sucker for city walls and carousals. Throw in coffee and a French pastry and I would be in heaven!
    sherianne recently posted…Ultimate Guide to Las Vegas Casino Hopping on the Strip

  10. Wow! Medieval towns are so interesting to explore. It’s nice to explore outside of the city especially when the town looks like this!

  11. Yeah! I too loved this old feel of Provins. Indeed a great one day trip from Paris.
    Great view of the town from top.

  12. that’s such a pretty town! so different from the madness of the city – great idea to get away for a day

  13. What a fantastic idea for a day trip. We spent 10 days in Paris on our visit and I think a day trip to a smaller town like this would have been an excellent idea. It is so pretty and sounds like a really easy journey too.

  14. Provins looks like a wonderful small town and lots of great historical spots, which is what I like to see when I travel. Thanks for giving me a new small town to add to my list! I think I’d opt to stay there and visit Paris for the day 🙂

  15. This looks like a lovely town with lots of history. Your photos really captured the feeling of the place.
    Carla Durham recently posted…View from The Kennedy Center rooftop terrace

  16. What a hidden gem! It doesn’t look overrun with tourists at all, and the view from Caeser’s Tower is to die for. Good tip not to touch the poop-infested wood!

  17. This is just a day trip from Paris? I didn’t know this existed. What a gem. I would put this in my bucketlist.
    karlaroundtheworld recently posted…7 Unique Things to Do in San Diego

  18. I have a lot of friends from Paris and they’re always telling me there is just so much more to see and do in and around Paris other than just the common touristy areas. I have a friend that’s heading to Paris soon. I will be sure to pass this on to them.

  19. You guys are as lovely as the place! It’s such a beautiful town to walk around. The city walls looks amazing, too!!!

  20. I love taking trips from larger cities, to smaller villages in France! There are so many gorgeous ones! Some of these buildings really resemble the Norman buildings you’ll see in Rouen and other places in Normandy. Looks like a fab day trip

  21. Sadly, I’ve only experienced Paris and Versailles so far. But I would love to get back and take in more of what France has to offer. Provins looks like it would be a great place to start.

  22. I didn’t know this little town, but I really like the idea to visit it, because is very close to Paris and in your post you give so many useful and practical information! And I really think to go to Provins in fall, when I’ll be in Paris! Thank you! 🙂

  23. I wanted to visit Province when I visited Paris but didn’t have time to do that! Hoping to go in future! Province is just an incredible town! A church standing since 12th C? Wow! That’s awesome! The view from above is so quaint & countryside picturesque!
    My Travelogue by Bhushavali recently posted…Santa Maria della Grazie (Milan – Italy)

  24. Never heard of Provins before but it looks so pretty! Those medieval houses are like something from a storybook!

  25. I’ve heard of Provins but never visited. Looks like a beautiful midevil town. I’ve noticed when traveling Europe that the midevil towns were some of my favorite because of the character the city has!

  26. I like the look of that Bell Tower. Did you manage to read the inscriptions on the bells and get the date?
    I love exploring this kind of environment. Something always pops up to amaze.
    Dave (Silverbackpacker) recently posted…Tabak Festival 2017 – Fun and Games in Tabaco

  27. Megan Jerrard

    Sorry to hear you missed the underground tunnels tour – though it means you have an excuse for a return trip! Provins looks lovely, and a nice escape from the hustle of main Paris city – the view of Provins from the tower is so beautiful – I love the medieval feel, it’s like time has stood still!

  28. Wow! What a beautiful place to go not far from Paris. I will go…soon! I love finding gems like this that are within a day’s trip to the capital city. Great tip, thanks.
    Corinne recently posted…Even More Beautiful and Hidden Places In Europe To Put On Your Bucket List

  29. Wow you can really feel the old era! Next time I’m in Paris I will have to go on this tour 🙂

  30. This is an absolutely beautiful town. I’ve never even heard of Provins! That church is stunning!
    Paige W recently posted…A Tale of Two Trails – Mount Magazine State Park

  31. I just love these beautiful little French towns. I got to explore a few (Beaune, Chaumont, and Langres) while visiting family in France, and would love to see plenty more in the future! We will certainly be back to Paris in the future and I’m happy to see that this pretty spot is an easy day trip from the city!
    Beth | Adventuring the Great Wide Somewhere recently posted…How to Make the Most of Five Days in Paris

  32. Like most people I’ve only been to Paris but I’ve been itching to go back as there is so much France has to offer. This is a great find. So medieval, I LOVE towns like this…I can pretend I’m on the set of Game Of Thrones lol!!! I will add this to my to go to list for sure!!!
    Pinning it now
    Christopger recently posted…The Unbreakable Kimmie Davies Walks Aboot

  33. Your pictures truly showcase what appears to be the quintessential fairy tale town. Who needs Disneyland Paris when you can pretend to be Belle by walking through these romantic streets. Dating back to the 12th century, Tour César and the church across the way are lovely. Can’t wait to visit here some day!

  34. One of my favorite things about living and traveling around Europe were all of the little hidden gems just outside the major cities. I never made it to Provins, but it is exactly what I’m looking for when I need an escape from city life. Such a beautiful village, and certainly a lot less people than Versailles and Disneyland, that’s for sure!
    Drew recently posted…Adventure in Hangzhou: Work Trip Gone Insane!

  35. Really enjoyed your pictures. This is the kind of place I most enjoy visiting. Old, historic, and super cool-looking! I hadn’t even heard of Provins before. If I ever return to France, this will be at the top of my list!
    Tami recently posted…London: Not just a city…

  36. This is so beautiful! I love that you included so many photos 🙂 I’ll definitely have to put this on my list of destinations!

  37. This place is amazing. I love day trips and I always end up visiting a new city whenever I go somewhere. For instance on my last trip to Budapest we went on a day trip to Esztergom and it turned out to be a lovely city.
    Elena recently posted…One Day in Venice

  38. Sandy N Vyjay

    Provins looks so quaint and as if time has stopped still. The medieval structures look magnificent, no wonder the place is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I was struck by the calm that seems to prevail over the town, it can be felt even in the pictures.

  39. Provins looks a great place for a day trip, the medieval feel and great architectural design – tudor houses and the fortress are stunning. Hopefully one day I’ll get to visit provins.
    Anneklien Meanne recently posted…Malvern Hills: Circular Route A Great Morning Amble

  40. It looks beautiful! So nice to get out of the big city for the day and just wander the pretty streets!

  41. That looks like such a beautiful place to visit. I would love to go to Ceasars tower and also walk around the city walls. The whole town looks amazing and certainly the type of place I love to visit.

  42. Place du Châtel looks like such a cute and peaceful area! What a lovely little day trip outside of Paris! Nice little break of the big city life
    Miranda recently posted…What You Should Know if You Date a Girl Who Travels

  43. This is a great day trip idea, especially for people like me who have been to Paris many times and looking for a new experience. The view from Ceasar’s Tower is phenomenal. I bet the food must be delicious as well!

  44. France surely has some very cute and gorgeous little towns. If I ever make it there, I will head to those towns rather than touristy places

  45. We love small towns like these. There’s so much history and culture in these places. It’s good that they preserved the stonewalls, white-washed houses, cobblestone streets, and other architecture.

  46. Great pictures! I don’t know that I could ever get sick of wandering around old towns like this. They are all so unique and have character – especially the medieval streets.

  47. Wow I can’t believe how much you saw in your day trip to Provins! The city walls and Caesar’s Tower look great to explore. Thanks for sharing your story.
    One Tech Traveller recently posted…Wearing the ATLAS Time Co. Apollo Vanta

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