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Recommended Reading: Half An Hour from Paris

Castle Gardens

Half an Hour From Paris: 10 Secret Daytrips by Train” by Annabel Simms, author of the now-classic “An Hour from Paris”, written in the days when people had more time, is a great resource for locals who need a good excuse to escape Paris for the day, or for visitors looking to expand beyond the regular tourist haunts of the capital.

As I write this on a particularly gray and chilly autumn day, I want to say that this would be a great book for the warmer days of spring, or to escape the suffocating heat of the city in the summer.

But then I remember one of my favorite daytrips from Paris was on a snowy New Year’s Eve in 2016, when I took the RER up to Chantilly with a Parisian friend simply to enjoy the winter wonderland for the day (note to future self: wear actual winter clothing and snow-proof shoes next time).

How This Book Will Help You Escape Paris

You’d think Parisians would go on little daytrips outside the city all of the time, but most of us, like New Yorkers, don’t own cars, and if we did we would probably go further afield, like Brittany or the Loire Valley. But Annabel’s excellent book removes all of the silly excuses we give ourselves.

–        She gives us 10 daytrips to choose from and the best time to go

–        She explains exactly how to get there using public transportation (distance, time involved, whether you can get there using a Navigo pass, and how much — as of printing — the train ticket costs)

–        She gives a full guided tour of what to see in each location, the local tourism office, and even a few suggestions of where to eat

–        There are maps (for those who don’t rely on their smartphone) and plenty of photos to give you an idea of what you’ll be seeing on each daytrip

Annabel’s book is based on her own 20 years of experience exploring the countryside outside Paris, and it shows. If you’re still a little nervous, start off with the Château de Vincennes or the Parc de Bagatelle, two easy daytrips right outside Paris that are still surprisingly free of crowds, let alone tourists.

If you’re in Paris, you can find “A Half An Hour from Paris” at most English bookshops, including my favorite, the Abbey Bookshop. And of course you can always purchase it online.