Tuesday 18 December 7.30-9 pm at the American Library in Paris, 10 rue du Général Camou, 75007 Paris, métro Alma-Marceau
Annabel Simms’s talk, “How to briefly escape from Paris to France,” will outline her criteria for selecting daytrips in her original guidebook, An Hour From Paris, and its recent sequel, Half An Hour From Paris. She will explain why the Ile de France is one of the most accessible and rewarding regions in the country, still little-explored by many Parisians, let alone foreign visitors. She will illustrate her talk with a detailed look at one of the destinations in Half An Hour From Paris, including some of the experiences that went into writing it. Finally, she will try to assess the future development of the Ile de France, now that it is being rebranded as Le Grand Paris.
Readers, friends and visitors are cordially invited to the launch of
at Word on the Water, the floating bookshop behind St Pancras International station, London
on Thursday 10 May from 6.30-8.30 pm
Annabel will give a short presentation at 7 pm before signing copies.
Word on the Water, Regent’s Canal towpath, London N1C 4LW
Go past The Lighterman pub to Granary Square and continue down the ramp to the waterside https://goo.gl/maps/Le5wn2i1UXy
Over the last few years I’ve been refining my selection of 20 new trips for the sequel to An Hour From Paris. Hard work, but very enjoyable. Ten of the shorter new trips will be published in October 2017 as Half An Hour From Paris. The other ten, some with longer optional walks and all taking around an hour from Paris by train, are available as separate PDFs, downloadable from this website for 3€ each or the full set for 13€.
Each trip follows the same format as An Hour From Paris but includes two colour photos and a hand-drawn colour map. You can download them to your smartphone or print out just the walk and map to take with you.
Click here for the full list – and a free sample trip to Coulommiers
What is a GR route? French footpath signs (hiking trails) explained
It took me years to understand the logic of French footpath signs, finally resolved by attending a weekend course for baliseurs, the volunteers who actually paint the signs. You can read more about this fascinating experience in The Nature of the French. The most revealing thing I learned was that the signs are meant to be discreet. Practical usefulness is all very well, I was told, but aestheticism is more important. Not all French walkers agree. A helpful French website explaining how not to get lost when following the signs is http://www.randonner-malin.com/le-balisage-en-randonnee-ce-que-vous-devez-savoir/
The footpath signs were created by the FFRP (Féderation Française de la Randonnée Pedestre, https://www.ffrandonnee.fr/), the equivalent of the Ramblers’ Association in the UK or the American Hiking Society in the US. Their volunteers are responsible for maintaining the system of letters and coloured markings which help you find your way across country. These waymarked footpaths are shown in red on the IGN (Institut Géographique National) large-scale maps.
On the ground the red and white or yellow markings are deliberately rather discreet, usually painted at eye level on a tree or lamp-post. However, once you start looking for them you will notice them everywhere, including central Paris. It is generally a good idea to follow the FFRP paths, which avoid busy roads as far as possible, sometimes leading to an unsuspected underpass or taking you through a pretty wood.
Footpaths are classified as follows:
GR (Grande Randonnée): Major footpath crossing several regions. Red and white stripe.
GRP (Grande Randonnée de Pays): Major footpath circling an entire region. Red and yellow stripe.
PR (Promenade et Randonnée): Shorter circular routes taking one to eight hours. Yellow stripe.
Two horizontal stripes mean you are on the right path, a horizontal stripe above a right or left angle means turn right or left at the next fork and a horizontal cross means you will stray off the path if you take this route. More unusually, two horizontal stripes with a vertical line through them indicate that the path is a diverticule, a waymarked deviation from the main one.
To be published soon
Discover ten rewarding new daytrips, only half an hour from Paris by train, but unknown to many Parisians.
In the same spirit and format as An Hour From Paris, including comprehensive practical information and illustrated with original photos and specially-drawn maps.
Pre-order now from Amazon.co.uk
The print edition will be released in April 2017 and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.co.uk
View the first few pages and a sample chapter here.
I’ve re-organised the chapters by station of departure instead of alphabetically and listed the daytrips in descending order of journey time. So, for example, the quickest journeys from the Gare de Lyon are shown first. I’ve also added an optional walk and map to the Ile du Martin Pêcheur chapter and completely re-written the Getting around the Ile de France chapter, as so much has changed. One of the best changes is the extension of the Navigo zone for Paris to cover the entire Ile de France, seven days a week, for the same price as the old Paris pass.
I’m in the process of revising 10 new daytrips less than 30 minutes from Paris by train to be called Half An Hour From Paris.
As the name implies, La Ferté sous Jouarre is actually two small towns. La Ferté is in the Marne valley and Jouarre is on a hill about 3 km away. Above is a photo of Martine (standing), the 68-year-old owner of the café Chez Martine in La Ferté. She tells me she is thinking of retiring in two years as she runs it single-handed. We sympathise – it’s an all too familiar story – and then go on to road test my directions for the country walk to Jouarre.
It seems much quicker than when I first did it, as I now know exactly where I am going. There is no need to revisit the Merovingian crypt at Jouarre as I have already photographed it. There is a cloudburst while we are there so we shelter in the deserted giftshop of the Benedictine abbey, the only place which seems to be open, and I end up buying two tiny handmade cards decorated with pressed flowers. Also, some home-made local fruit jellies which are so delicious that we finish the lot. The old nun at the till, on hearing we are about to walk back to La Ferté in the rain, says ‘Quel courage!’ My friend, being Scottish, looks up at the murky grey skies and says ‘It’s clearing up’ and sure enough, after a few minutes the sun comes out and the countryside beneath us is bathed in sparkling light.
We are almost back at La Ferté when I see from the map that there is a promising detour along the Petit Morin river to where it joins the River Marne, which we don’t have time to try out. There is also a protected wood on the other side of the station which I have decided to exclude from the book, as it looks as if a ramble there might take all day and the Merovingian crypt is the point of the visit. But it’s an excellent reason to go back for the fun of it – and to test out that little detour before I draw my map.