James and I were looking for a reason to get out of Paris for the day, so we decided to check out the medieval city of Provins!
Provins is located about an hour and a half southeast of Paris. It’s a little tricky to get to because you don’t take the RER or a normal train, but a special commuter train. It’s officially called the RER P, but you leave from the normal train platforms in the Gare de l’Est. Confusing right? The nice thing is that a train leaves every 45 mins past the hour (you know, 8:45, 9:45, etc), so if you miss one, your day trip isn’t ruined.
We decided to get up early and make the 8:45 train and didn’t have any problems buying our tickets from the Ile de France ticket machines. The train station in Provins is located a bit away from the ville haute, but there are a few signs and you basically just need to make your way up.
Our first stop was the tourism office and then we walked around the city walls for a bit. As you can see the weather wasn’t beautiful, but at least it wasn’t cold and/or raining!
Next we decided to go for a nice long lunch before all the tourist attractions opened at 2pm. We ate at Le Cesar Gourmand and it was delicious!
James and I both picked something to go to, and his choice was the souterrains, a tour of the underground tunnels. The tour was in French, but I think we both got the main points. It’s amazing to see how a city can go from being a very prosperous fair/market town to something quite small.
My pick was for the Tour Cesar, the watchman’s tower. There’s wasn’t an audioguide (which I had been hoping for), but there is quite a bit of info in the guides you get from the tourism office. Oh, and the views are wonderful! Watch out for the super narrow steps to the top though!
If you’re planning on going to more than two tourist activities, it’s best to go for the Provins Pass at the tourism office. We weren’t sure we’d have time for a third destination since everything was only open from 2-5pm, but the hours are much better during the summer.
After the Tour Cesar, we looked around the main church a bit and then decided to get something warm to drink. We stopped at a cute, little creperie on the main square. Since Provins is famous for roses, I decided to try a chocolat chaud à la rose. I’m usually not a big fan of rose flavored things (to me it tastes like eating perfum), but rose hot chocolate was delicious!
We slowly made our way back towards the train station and stopped in the ville basse for a bit as well. Trains leave Provins 45 minutes after the hour, so getting back is easy as well. Definitely a successful day trip!