We spent part of our day in the ancient town of Provins. At the beginning of the 2nd millennium, it was one of four towns in the territory of the Counts of Champagne that became the venues for great annual trading fairs linking northern Europe with the Mediterranean world, from the 11th to the 14th centuries. Provins is the only one to retain its original medieval fabric.
The earliest document related to Provins, an ordinance by Charlemagne of 802, indicates that the site was already an established fort. Because of its political and commercial importance, the castle on the high ground was fortified in the 11th and 12th centuries. We came in through Saint Jean’s Gate, built in the 13th century both to protect and collect tolls from the road to Paris. Provins is also known for its medieval fortifications, such as the Caesar Tower and its well-preserved city walls.
The Saint Quiriace Collegiate Church here was another stop on the journey of Charles VII and Joan of Arc, this time on the way to Paris, after being in Reims for his coronation.
Lovely town, well-preserved and a fine place to stop for some history and some lunch.
On our way to our next destination, we had occasion to stop at the modern version of the Champagne fairs, today’s Val d’Europe Shopping Centre, which features just about every retail name in the Western hemisphere. The place is filled with the same brand pilgrims you find all over the world – fascinating to watch as they willing stand in lines just to spend their money. Guess nothing has really changed – the parking lots have just gotten bigger.
And now we have arrived at our home for the next three nights. Where are we? Why, at the happiest place on earth, of course – the number one tourist destination in all of Europe! But no more hints until tomorrow…