Annabel Simms was born in England, of Hungarian parentage. She has lived in Paris since 1991, when she arrived from London on a year’s sabbatical from her job as a college lecturer in English – and never left.
Her interest in the region around Paris known as the Ile de France dates from that first year, when she began to spend her Sundays exploring the nearest countryside accessible by train from Paris, while teaching English during the week.
Armed only with the Michelin green guide and the suburban train map, she gradually discovered small medieval towns and villages, country restaurants, hidden châteaux and museums, parks, forests, canals and rivers and worked out the most enjoyable ways of accessing them by train and on foot.
Finally, realising that this gentle provincial world less than an hour from Paris by train was unknown to many Parisians, let alone foreign visitors, she decided to write a guide to it herself. She illustrated her selection of favourites from the scores of places she had discovered with her own photos and maps, based on her experience of visiting them on foot.
An Hour From Paris, her guide to 20 little-known daytrips around an hour from Paris by train, first appeared in 2002 and is in its third edition (2019). The fourth edition is in preparation and will appear in 2025, in full colour. Half An Hour From Paris, ten more daytrips around half an hour from Paris by train, was first published in 2018. The enlarged updated second edition in full colour containing 12 trips was published in July 2023. 10 More Trips An Hour From Paris is a further selection of ten unpublished daytrips, exclusively available as pdf downloads either separately or as a set here.
As a freelance journalist she has written on offbeat travel in France and elsewhere, French hiking trails, Paris restaurants, sailing, dancing, bird-watching and yoga for the Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Independent, Mail on Sunday and other publications. You can view them here.
She has taught English in Paris at the British Institute, Sciences Po, France Télécom, the OECD, UNESCO and the Assemblée Nationale and edits scientific articles for international publication for the Paris School of Economics and other French universities.
Annabel lives in a studio on the Ile St Louis, from where she continues to enjoy making new discoveries in the Ile de France, as well as further afield.
Presenting Half An Hour From Paris at Adrian Leeds’ Après-Midi in Paris, December 2023