Provins, medieval fair town – 1 day
DISTANCE FROM PARIS PROVINS 1 h 40 min (92.5 km) via N4 – direct train from Paris
Located in Île-de-France in the department of Seine-et-Marne, the historic fortified town of Provins is an exceptional and authentic example of a medieval fairground town in Champagne, a region which was an important trading hub and saw, with the rise of fairs in the 11th century, the beginning of great international trade in Europe.
The fairs, activities targeted at merchants and traders and having an international character, demanded the protection of long-distance transport of goods between Europe and the Orient, encouraging the development of activities such as banking and foreign exchange, as well as productive activities (tanning, dyeing, drapery). The urban scheme and the surviving medieval residences in Provins represent an exceptional example of an architectural ensemble built especially to fulfill these functions. This set includes merchants' houses, cellars and vaulted warehouses, open-air spaces intended for trade, but also religious sets. The city is also known for its well-preserved defense system, which was built for the protection of fairs.
At the beginning of the second millennium, Provins was one of the towns in the territory of the counts of Champagne which hosted the great annual fairs, linking northern Europe to the Mediterranean world.
Provins preserves to a very large extent the architecture and the urban layout characteristic of these great medieval fair towns.