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, Downie and his wife walk across Paris on the old pilgrimage route Rue Saint-Jacques then trek about 750 miles south to Roncesvalles, Spain. The eccentric route would take 72 days on Roman roads and The Way of Saint James, the 1,100-year-old pilgrimage network leading to the sanctuary of Saint James the Greater in Spain. 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 meets the outer one. More than 20,000 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.
David Downie, a native San Franciscan, lived in New York, Rome, and Milan before moving to Paris. Downie’s travel, food and arts features have been published worldwide. He is the author of two previous novels and over a dozen nonfiction history, travel and food books, including the highly acclaimed Paris, Paris; A Passion for Paris; Paris to the Pyrenees; and A Taste of Paris. He divides his time between France and Italy with his wife, the photographer Alison Harris.