Monday, June 13, 2016

Les Médiévales de Provins

I am writing this here because this is my blog after all and it's the perfect platform to write about this. This past weekend, I attended my first "Renaissance Faire" here in France, specifically in the medieval region of Provins entitled "Les Médiévales de Provins" naturally. It was their 33rd year and it seems, going strong! This medieval region houses a castle and a square. On the off-season, of which I have been, one can see the modern shops around the edges but on this weekend, one could never tell. It looked and felt like the time period.

Let me write here that the faires in the U.S. are nothing compared to this and rightfully so. This is France - rich with the actual medieval history that they endured and experienced. The U.S. didn't even exist as such back then. So this was the real deal complete with historically accurate costumes, crafts, games, and even some of the foods. There were camps set up with fires going everywhere you looked and there was medieval music playing everywhere via many troubadours. A side note though - a Faun song DID play over the loudspeaker system in the square at one point and I squealed with joy!

There were knights, maidens, artisans and tribes and with that, came a huge focus in my experience, on the cosplayers, themselves. In general, they come in 3 different groups  - Professional:  the most serious ones who have the knowledge, the money and maybe even the craftsmanship to create true-to-history costumes. Intermediate: the ones that dress in any fantasy type outfit (but still take themselves very seriously) and when they hear about a faire of ANY kind, they will go in that outfit...even if it happens to be Link from Zelda. I suppose he can fit into the Middle Ages. ;) Amateurs: (where I fit in!) the ones that don't take themselves too seriously but dress to a certain point and know that they are wanting to fit in with the theme but they can't quite afford to do it the best way.

So, the first thing I did when I got there was buy a new chemise. I didn't think I was going to. I had my underbust corset and my antlers and what I thought was a fairly adequate top and skirt underneath but the minute my husband and I got off the train, I was inspired. I went into the first shop and saw a great one. It was a little expensive, which most of these things are, but it is so well made and something that I know will last years. I did end up tucking it into my skirt later on the day but sadly, there isn't a photo.

And then I convinced my husband to buy a little something so we got him leather wrist cuffs and they suit him, and the chemise he wore, perfectly.

There was so much to see and do here. In the U.S., the faires are pretty contained in a small area and here, there were so many alleyways and places that not only had the market booths, but things to watch. However, along the ramparts and in the square, were the 3 main events - the stage for band and performers and the areas for 2 spectacles - La Légende des Chevaliers and Les Aigles des Ramparts -the one we went to,  however it was all birds of prey among other animals shown.

And what a fantastic show! The price of admission in was almost nothing and we got there early enough to get second row so the birds were up close and personal as you can see. They flew right over our heads and in fact, a few times, the wings of a few touched the top of my husband's head. And the wingspans on some of them are enormous! I have a renewed respect for these magnificent creatures. The actors/handlers were great (though I didn't understand what they were saying) and you can tell that the animals are well taken care of.


And then I shot arrows for the second time in my life (the first was at a Ren Faire in Florida and received completely wrong instructions then.) We each took 5 arrows and with the help of the instructor at hand, I got a bullseye on the 4th try! Merida, no, but I can fantasize ;) Gilles tried and did alright but it was so enjoyable for both of us. We even received little diplomas when we finished.

 We did so much walking around and the visions around were so overwhelming at times so I admit, I was a little disappointed in that though I took many photos, I believe I did not capture the spirit of this event nearly enough. For example, there were craftsman and artisans there, including a woman that creates illuminated manuscripts but I didn't have a chance to photograph her nor spend enough time admiring her work (I caught a glimpse).  Here is another glimpse of what you will see:

So, with that we made a promise to go back for the full weekend experience next year.

For the complete album of photos, go to my Facebook page: It's a private account but I made the album public. Enjoy!
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