77160 Provins, France
What Lies BeneathUnderneath the cobblestones and half-wooden cottages of this 12th century medieval marvel, lies the unexpected underground terrain of hidden tunnels, harbouring a thousand years of secrets.
No one knows for sure what its history is. Its medieval graffiti suggests that it was used in the 12th century to quarry clay to degrease the wool that local artisans sheared to trade at Provins’ famous Champagne fairs. As the trade fairs grew and more storage space was needed, two cavernous subterranean cellars at the end of these tunnels protected precious produce such as wine and cheese from the heat.
As you wander by guided torch through this labyrinth of darkness, you’ll learn that it not only housed goods but also medieval pilgrims and paupers seeking refuge and respite, whilst in the 19th century it became the underground meeting place for the Freemasons, a group determined to protect the secrecy of their words. Deep below the workings of the rest of Provins, it seems the perfect place for that to occur.