Saturday, August 4, 2007


Our first outing with the Ile de France walks ( was a day trip to Provins two weeks ago.

The e-mail said to meet Daniel at the Gare de l'Est before boarding the train to Provins so we caught the RER on one of the first really nice days of this summer. Shortly after we arrived we noticed a small group forming - a bunch of people about our age, with little backpacks. They looked just like us! And they were speaking a mix of French and English, so that confirmed the identification.

The trip to Provins was our first trip on the Viaduc de Nogent. We've lived in Nogent for almost 30 years. We've admired the bridge; we've read about the bridge; we've seen the bridge in paintings. (If you're ever in Nogent, visit the town museum:

I just love meeting new people and spent the entire trip in conversation. Once we arrived in Provins, it took a little while for us to actually get started - just like kids. We were all more interested in our new friends than walking. But Daniel finally managed to herd us together and we strolled through the center of Provins to the other side of the town for lunch.

The first time we visited Provins was about 12 or 13 years ago, when it was the destination for one of the kids, who was learning to drive. It was cold, then. The town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and I was afraid it might have turned into a real tourist trap.

After our picnic lunch just outside the wall, at the Porte de Jouy, the group split. The courageous half went off with Robert to hike in the countryside around Provins and we stayed with the others to explore the city.

We opted out of the visit to the underground galleries; we remembered it vaguely from the last time. This time, we went to the top of the Caesar Tower and visited the Tithe Barn, where they've set up scenes of the town's industry when it was a major stop on the trade fair route. We didn't take many pictures and they're not all that great. We got more involved with looking at the sites: farm buildings within the midieval walls - and it's still a working farm because we could see all the equipment in the yard; half-timbered construction (colombages, in French); the shops; and more.

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