Medieval is sacred in Provins. Each June it hosts the largest medieval fair in France with all its locals playing a vibrant role in creating a fair to remember. There’s not a local wearing jeans or an IPod in sight. From the tourist office’s welcoming staff to every shop owner, they are all dressed in a myriad of medieval styles. And so are the adoring public.
Last year 80,000 medieval enthusiasts from around the world were drawn to the magic of Provins, just over 90kms east of Paris. Re-enacting its critical role in 12th -13th trade fairs, Provins transforms from a quiet, authentic UNESCO town, to a vibrant, energetic melting pot of men, women and children sporting swords, shields, tights, cloaks, daggers, plumes and flowing gowns.
Thousands of artisans from all continents come to sell their wares: food, clothes, jewellery, art, wine and music. Most of the stalls are outside, just as they were in medieval times, encircling the fortified town walls. The sounds of strings and pipes mix with the smells of pig as it’s cooked on the open spit. The day merges into the night and torches are lit to lead the way through the dark and towards the cries of the market’s artisans as they continue to sell their goods. Dancing in the town square follows the evening meal as thousands are taught how to dance medieval style. Laughter, good moods and great ambience intertwine, making this tiny town the centre of France for one wondrous weekend of medieval bliss.