Part adventure story, part cultural history, this “enjoyably offbeat travelogue” explores the phenomenon of the spiritual pilgrimage (Booklist). Driven by curiosity, wanderlust, and health crises, David Downie and his wife set out from Paris to walk across France to the Pyrenees. Starting on the Rue Saint-Jacques, then trekking 750 miles south to Roncesvalles, Spain, their eccentric route takes 72 days on Roman roads and pilgrimage paths—a 1,100-year-old network of trails leading to the sanctuary of Saint James the Greater. It is best known as El Camino de Santiago de Compostela—“The Way” for short. The object of any pilgrimage is an inward journey manifested in a long, reflective walk. For Downie, the inward journey met the outer one: a combination of self-discovery and physical regeneration. More than 200,000 pilgrims take the highly commercialized Spanish route annually, but few cross France. Downie had a goal: to go from Paris to the Pyrenees on age-old trails, making the pilgrimage in his own maverick way.
Praise for David Downie“Perhaps the most evocative American book about Paris since A Moveable Feast.” —Jan Morris
“David Downie is the master of educated curiosity. With him we discover Paris, a seemingly public city that is, in fact, full of secrets—great lives, lives wasted on the bizarre; forgotten artisans; lost graves. I have walked some of the city’s streets with him, and reading this book is just as tactile an experience.” —Michael Ondaatje
“Bristling with knowledge and the insights of good fiction, Downie takes you on a trip that is as much a compelling intellectual journey as it is a rich revelation of place. A hard book to put down.” —G. Y. Dryansky, author of Coquilles, Calva, and Crème
David Downie has called Paris home since 1986. He has written for over fifty publications worldwide including Bon Appetit, the Los Angeles Times, Town & County Travel, the San Francisco Chronicle, Epicurious.com, and Salon.com. He is the author of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light; three Terroir Guides; and several cookbooks and crime novels.