The Medieval Town of Provins

Ramparts and Fortified Gates, Provins, May 2016

Located two hours southeast of Paris by train, Provins is a UNESCO heritage site due to the historical architecture dating back to medieval times.

Particularly impressive were the massive ramparts that stretched for kilometers around the city. It was interesting to think about the history of these walls, with archer’s holes every other step, it used to stand strong against attacks. Now greenery grows in the cracks, birds nest in the holes and stones crumble from the top with age. Let’s also consider that these walls were built way before they had the tools we do today.. I couldn’t help but wonder how many builders toppled off the edge of these high walls. Thank goodness for modern safety precautions!

Venturing into the heart of the medieval town, the experience becomes a little more tourist oriented. Small trains loaded with a handful of tourists on this mild Monday drove through the streets and  the main square’s restaurants and souvenir shops were bustling. Nearby you will find the Église Saint Quiriace, dating back to the early 11th century, and the Tour César from the 12th century.

Église Saint Quiriace, provins, May 2016

A little architectural history fact about the Tour Cesar: It is the only known medieval keep that uses an octagon on top of a square base (or so says the plaque at the base of the tower!). The Tour César was used as a watchtower and prison, but now houses the bells of the church.

tour cesar
Tour Cesar, Provins, May 2016

This was a nice day trip from Paris – it provided an escape from the busy city to travel back to medieval times. It was interesting to just walk down any street of the medieval part of town and see layers of generations past in the old houses, although I did feel slightly awkward taking photos of houses because I had the sneaking suspension the homeowners were looking on from inside.




The Colour of Burano

Burano, March 2016

Burano is another island in the Venetian Lagoon, known for handmade lace and the brightly painted houses. A main industry of the island was fishing, and the houses were painted bright colours so they could be seen through thick fog. I was told different theories to explain the colour scheme, one being that each colour is associated with a particular family, and another saying that it is actually in accordance to a strict pattern enforced through government (although I failed to see any logic in this ‘pattern’).

As you approach Burano, there are smaller islands with crumbling ruins. While Burano continues to thrive, the monasteries of these islands have long been abandoned and the waves and wind erode what used to be. I would have loved to explore these islands, however I don’t believe it is particularly safe to trapeze through ruins, and I don’t think there is a way to access them without your own boat.