Antiquity, countryside and history greet you in Annabel Simms’ book, “Half an Hour from Paris … 10 Secret Daytrips by Train”. First you have to find your way there. Annabel Simms arranges the book like a quality French baguette au levain sandwich: yummy ingredients between the crunchy crusts. This is a book of self-guided walking tours of various lengths.
As I opened this delightful book of colourful land and train maps guided me into tempting synopses of the journey with travel time in minutes and distance. In one sentence, Annabel teased me with one item that would grab my attention at the destination. Cleverly, she tempted me with an option of extending my stay and an alternative return.
How often do you read the preface in a book? Well, you must read this preface and be treated to her gift to you of why this book evolved from “An Hour from Paris” published earlier.
Not only will you learn about the name Ile-de-France, you will pick up French terminology. “How to Use this guide” is really a lesson in using public transportation to reach your secret destinations. That’s the top crust.
More details on getting around and cultural tips are found at the end of the book. You will know the best days to visit the markets, châteaux and museums, have a train traveller’s glossary and chronology of French kings. All of this in “Getting around the Il-de-France” is the bottom of the baguette.
The yummy ingredients are the detailed voyages, including why you want to go into the toilettes of a café/brasserie in Lagny to see the remains of a 13th century church.
One note: during August be sure to browse the transportation websites for Transilien, SNCF and RATP. Rail work is usually underway in August for the RERs and other lines. I am on my way out the door to Meaux!