I love the picture-book castles and palaces of France. Not only do they look like something I might make a model out of, carefully scoring cardboard and gluing fiddly little flaps, but they have a great mythic quality.
Today I put my hands on the walls of a city built in the 13th century. I can barely begin to imagine the stories of the people who have been there, the battles fought, the lives played out in those places.
This morning I suggested a daytrip to Provins. And we were out the gate by 9.30, on a Saturday! Miracle. The drive from here to there is about an hour and a half.
The kids slept. Luuk and I chatted, sung along to Queen’s greatest hits and most of a Savage Garden album, and commented on the differences between our old GPS and the built-in one in the new car… Lovely scenic drive through the French countryside in the general direction of Champagne (sounds like a good idea to me).
When we arrived in Provins we found a park and I fed Elena while Louis played with the stones near the playground… Then we wandered through some gardens, dragging Louis onward (though all he wanted to do was play with the stones) to the center of the town.
We found some lunch – a pretty average sandwich bar, but they did a nice ‘cafe gourmand’ – my new favourite sweet treat for after a meal. Any meal, really.
We wandered some more, this time with the kids in the pushchair rather than wriggling in our arms.
I had a mean headache but we wanted to see the famous walls of this medieval town. I’d read about it in an article online – cool architecture, old churches, a tower and city walls.
Beneath the clock tower.
Old church number 1.
I don’t know what it is about city walls that capture my imagination but they really do. So Luuk looked something up on his smart phone (handy dandy gadgets those) and figured out we were in the wrong part of town.
Louis wasn’t too happy about waiting around while Dad looked up maps and info. We’re going to have to start using the straps in his chair…
But soon we were on our way. Went for a drive and found the tourists… and the walls!
The walls of Provins, from without.
… and from within.
Also from inside the walls. I suppose this is how they send out Gimli and Legolas to defend the main city gate…
After walking up and down a short stretch of the walls we headed toward some other sights, through this great old town, with all these different types of architecture from the different centuries.
The iconic ‘tour caesar’ or Caesar Tower
– a hexagonal tower built on a square base which apparently wasn’t much of a defensive fortification but worked well as a prison.
Old church number 2.
(And a good name for a street. Look closely.)
Beautiful outside and in.
I love the light inside. Many of the medieval churches we’ve seen in France a really dark, but this one was open and airy. Gorgeous stained glass and all ornate altars and candles burning… it’s possible I’m a bit spoiled for old churches.
So that was our adventure today. All a bit exhausted and the dramas over Louis’ dinner were not a lovely end to it all, but that’s life with a toddler, I suppose. Fingers crossed for a good sleep tonight and perhaps we’ll put our feet up tomorrow.