I have two favourite sites when it comes to Christmas in the Seine-et-Marne département. These are the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte and the Provins medieval Christmas market. The latter is a significant event in the region and takes place during one Advent weekend. Situated one hour from Paris, the medieval town of Provins is worth a visit… even in the cold month of December!
Why you should visit Provins
Provins is a medieval town built atop a promontory above the Voulzie and Durteint valleys. The former capital of the Counts of Champagne in the Middle Ages, the town once welcomed prestigious trading fairs. These “Foires de Champagne” occured twice a year. The Provins fairs were hugely popular at the crossroads of routes to northern and southern Europe.
Today the historical heritage of Provins is exceptional, with 58 historic monuments listed and protected by the French State. Unesco listed Provins as a World Heritage site in 2001.
Discover the Provins Medieval Christmas Market
Since its beginning in 2009, the Provins medieval Christmas market has been organised by the Association of les Gardes-Foires de Champagne.
The market gathers around 40 craftsmen. People love coming to the Provins market for its playful and authentic atmosphere. It gives an idea of how the people of Provins lived in the Middle Ages. You will encounter real minstrels, jugglers and fire-eaters.
The market takes place in Place du Châtel and Place Saint-Quiriace (Upper Town).
The gourmet Christmas market in the Lower Town
In the Lower Town, a gourmet market is set up around a merry-go-round on the place du Maréchal Leclerc and the neighbouring shopping streets. You’ll find champagne, candy, crêpes, oysters, foie gras. Animations are planned all weekend (jugglers, pony rides, Santa’s chalet…)
Animations around Provins medieval Christmas market
On the Christmas market weekend, the medieval town organises many exciting events themed on the Middle Ages.
- Medieval items auction. Cour de l’Hôtel de Savigny (Upper Town). You may not wish to offer a sword to grandpa this Christmas… nevertheless, this event is unique in this corner of France! People sell old medieval stuff such as swords, armour, jewels, and camping equipment.
- Medieval ball. Learn a few medieval dances (in the school’s courtyard, rue du Palais, 4 pm on Sat and Sun).
- breathtaking fire juggling shows.
- Guided tours in the historic town on the theme of « La fête au moyen âge ».
- The outdoor ice-skating rink set up on the forecourt of the centre culturel et sportif Saint Ayoul (02/12/2022-01/01/2023).
- The living Nativity scene of St. Francis. One of the highlights of the weekend. The re-enactment includes 50 actors and animals (ox, donkey, sheep, shepherd dogs, falcon, wolves and the Magi’s camels). A not-to-miss show that takes place in the Place Saint-Quiriace (Upper Town).
- An exhibition of the Nativities worldwide at the Hôtel de Savigny from 25 November to 18 December 2022.
When night comes…
Practical info about the Provins Medieval Christmas Market
Here are a few practical pieces of advice to come to the Provins medieval Christmas market.
- The Provins medieval Christmas market is held one weekend, Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December 2022.
- To know everything about the medieval market (dates, times, access, exhibitors, concerts), visit the official website of the event. [French only – waiting for 2022 update!]
- Discover the Christmas animations calendar in Provins (Xmas 2022).
- Visit the website of the Provins Tourist Board for more touristic info about the town and its region.
How to get to Provins
- By car: Provins lies some 80 km South-East of Paris. From Paris, follow the A4 motorway and exit at sortie n°13 Serris – Provins. Continue along the D231 road. More info.
- By train : regular services connect Provins to Gare de l’Est in Paris. The P line of transition terminates at Provins. The shortest ride lasts 1.25 hrs. You’ll need to climb (a bit) from the station to reach the Upper Town (25 minutes walk approx.) More info about the train times.
- By air: The closest international airports are Paris-Charles de Gaulle (100km) and Paris-Orly (90km).
- Parking your car in Provins is not too complicated outside popular events (such as the Christmas market!). The easiest (provided slots available) is to park your car next to the Tourist Office at the entrance to the fortified town (see map). More info about the car park locations of Provins. Complimentary shuttles operate between the Upper Town and the Lower Town from 11 am to 7 pm on the Christmas market weekend (departure and arrival at the Tourist Office).
(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs
- Advent = Avent (m)
- auction = vente aux enchères (f)
- Christmas = Noël
- Christmas Eve = veille de Noël (f) / réveillon (m)
- Christmas lighting = illuminations de Noël (f,p)
- Christmas market = marché de Noël (m)
- Christmas Tree = sapin de Noël (m), arbre de Noël (m)
- church = église (f)
- fair = foire (f)
- gingerbread = pains d’épices (m,p)
- half-timbered house = maison à colombages (f)
- holiday season = période de Noël (f), temps des fêtes (m)
- juggler = jongleur (m) / jongleuse (f)
- knight = chevalier (m)
- Middle-Ages = moyen âge (m)
- Nativity scene = crèche de Noël (f)
- nightfall = tombée de la nuit (f)
- square = place (f)
- street = rue (f)
French Moments would like to thank the association Les Gardes Foires de Champagne for allowing us to share the beautiful photos by Damien Gilbon.
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