Paris to the Pyrenees - David Downie

Paris to the Pyrenees

By David Downie

  • Release Date: 2013-04-02
  • Genre: Specialty Travel


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 TimesTown & County Travel, the San Francisco Chronicle,, and He is the author of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light; three Terroir Guides; and several cookbooks and crime novels.


  • France Unnoticed

    By ric234
    I bought this book on a recent trip to France, and it accompanied me on the first few sleepless nights as I adjusted jet lag. On this trip, I was travelling in provinces, and I wanted to read something more deep into France, away of Paris. This book fits the bill even it is more about Burgundy. I recommend this book for those who love history. The book focused on the pre-roman times of the France. I was surprised to read that there was sophisticated cities and culture long before the Roman invasion, and felt a sense of sadness that most of those were lost in time. Another prevailing sentiment I got from this book is that as time marches on, rural France (or France profonde) is left behind. Young people are leaving, or never come back after school. Many villages are the hold-outs for seniors or retirees. During my recent recent trip, I passed through some towns with boarded up houses, or laundry stations that have drived up. I imagined the old days where those stations were teemed with people gossipping. Many french towns are relying on tourism for their economy. I like this book because it is not all about Paris, food and wine. It is a glimse of French live in the profonde