Provins Medieval Town

Provins Medieval Town

Admin Admin February 13, 2023 Place to Visit

Provins (French pronunciation: [pʁɔvɛ̃] (listen)) is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France. Known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and importance throughout the Middle Ages as an economic center and a host of annual trading fairs, Provins became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.[3]


With 11,844 inhabitants (2017), Provins is not the largest town in the arrondissement of Provins, but it is the seat (sous-préfecture). The largest town is Montereau-Fault-Yonne (20,206 inhabitants).[4]

The arrondissement has 176 communes[5] and 188,637 inhabitants (2017).[4] The canton of Provins has 81 communes and 57,947 residents.[4]


There are signs of human occupation in the area as early as the paleolithic era.

Roman Era

Provins was at the crossroads of two major regional corridors in Roman Gaul: one from Soissons to Troyes and one towards Sens in the south.[6]

Medieval Era

As proof of its growing importance, by the 9th century, Provins was minting its own coin, the “denier provinois,” and Charlemagne had sent his missi dominici to the town.[7] Under the protection of the Counts of Champagne, Provins hosted one of the largest Champagne fairs, an agricultural and trade fair crucial to the medieval economy.[3] In the upper portion of the town, the fair would be held twice a year, in May and November, whereas in the lower town, there was a yearly market in September.[7] During that time, Provins also because a banking center, with the “denier” being widely accepted throughout Europe. The fairs continued from 1120 until 1320.[7]

King Philip IV visited Provins several times in the late 13th century, devastating the town with harsh taxes that ended its period of prosperity and caused residents to flee. The town was besieged numerous times and changed hands frequently in the 14th through 16th centuries.[8] This political and economic instability reduced the importance of the city.

In one of the most famous events in Provins’ history, the recently crowned King Charles VII attended mass at the Collégiale Saint-Quiriace church, along with his royal court and saint Joan of Arc on August 3, 1429.

Modern Era

Being largely unaffected by the Industrial Revolution, Provins remained a small market town throughout the 19th century.[7] The Germans occupied the town in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, and were only barely fought off in 1914 during the First World War.