Within the first five pages I was swept into a desire to quickly read the entire book grab my camera, my Navigo, a bottle of water and head out. The personal update acknowledgements that first meet the reader introduce me to the author, Annabel Simms. Her manner of explaining her method and the updates gives me the impression that what I am about to read in the book will be from her heart.
I noticed immediately its compact size and weight. The immediate clarity of the first map of journey times plants the travel seed. With the Pass Navigo valid for all zones on the weekends or buying a ticket on the RER, she invites me to begin an inexpensive one-hour journey from Paris to a destination. I have already visited some of the destinations and they brought back memories
The fourth photo within the pages of An Hour from Paris is of the Abbaye de Royaumont. It reminded me of a spring visit a few years ago. I instantly recalled the mother swan and her babies paddling quietly in the water and the music CD we bought in their shop.
For another of her proposed destinations, Moiret-sur-Loing, we rented bikes in Paris and ported them on the RER. We rode around a peaceful countryside not far from Fontainebleau and during a festival in the village, stopped at the famous La maison des sucres d’orge. I am looking forward to seeing more in the Ile-de-France neighborhood by taking all of her proposed journeys to make new memories.
What’s in the book
The current edition is dated 2010. Annabel does, however, have an Updates to Visits page on her website. All of the proposed visits begin at the local train station. Annabel includes sections for getting there, when to go, the best days to visit, journey time, an alternative station if something changes during your visit, potential length of the visit during a day or half day. The distances are given in metric and then the linear equivalent. More details are in the “Using the Guide” section. She suggests a visit and supplies a map with with the walking route from the station to the destination. In her table of contents she provides with at least one reason why you would like to visit the destination.
The back jacket describes the “unique guide” as a book about the old-fashioned pleasures if you know where to look: discovering half-hidden châteaux, boating and dancing by the river, country houses, footpaths, family-run restaurants with 1950s decor and prices to match. “Unique and extensive practical information to discover places that are unknown to many Parisians.”
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