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Provins is the only medieval walled city in Northern France, so I was surprised to realize that I had never visited it. Zhizhong put a bug in my ear when he brought me the copy of An Hour From Paris that he had been saving for me. He mentioned that the only one of the many suggested trips he had taken in his five years here was a visit to Provins. The guidebook description looked interesting, and Jackie was keen, so we made it our Sunday destination.

We ended up taking a taxi because the bus trips I had mapped out left us only ten minutes at Gare de L’Est to get our tickets, and there was only one train that would give us a reasonable look around. In retrospect it was easy to get tickets but neither of us knew the station well enough to be sure in advance. The train took an hour and a half, which is a bit beyond the usual criterion of “An Hour from Paris,” but we both felt the visit was worthwhile.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the twice-annual luxury goods fairs of Provins were the most important in Europe, and for a time it was the third largest city of France. Commerce passed it by, but it has fortunately remained in remarkably good condition. Several churches and towers are worth a look in the lower town, but the upper town, and especially its walls, are the main attraction.

The train station is in the lower town, where there are several picturesque churches and towers. Mass was going on when we stuck our head into one of them. We were surprised to find the pews full, when we had expected just a few old ladies.

The pathway up to the old town has character also.

Cousin Jackie on the way up to the 12th century Collégiale Saint-Quirice in the old town. She correctly noted that the dome was a later addition.

A half-timbered house in the main square of the old town

Bob enjoying an omelet at a restaurant in the main square of the old town. The veggies were from the restaurant’s garden.

12th century Tour César in the old town

The pièces de résistance of Provins, however, are its walls:

As previously noted, Jackie and I had another Lebanese feast when we got home, then were happy to meet up with Lisa and Aya on their return from Le Havre. A good weekend was had by all.

My full photo set from this trip is at Day Trip to Provins.

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