Start reading Paris to the Pyrenees on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.
OR
Read for Free
with Kindle Unlimited

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Color:
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player

 

Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James [Kindle Edition]

David Downie
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $24.99 What's this?
Print List Price: $16.95
Kindle Price: $11.33
You Save: $5.62 (33%)
 
Kindle Unlimited Read this title for free and get unlimited access to over 600,000 titles. Learn More

Whispersync for Voice

Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration. Add narration for a reduced price of $4.99 after you buy the Kindle book. Learn More

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $11.33  
Hardcover $21.13  
Paperback $11.93  
Audio, CD, Audiobook, CD $26.95  
Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged $17.95 or Free with Audible 30-day free trial
Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica.

Book Description

Part adventure story, part cultural history, Paris to the Pyrenees explores the phenomenon of pilgrimage along the age-old way of Saint James
 
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.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

An eclectic author of cookbooks, novels, and tourist guides, Downie embarks here on the genre of travel writing. His journey, which he completed on foot between the titular locations, in general followed the hallowed Christian pilgrimage route to Spain, le Chemin de Saint Jacques. France being France, history accompanied Downie as much as his walking companion, his wife, Alison. Their conversations were sparked by route-side sights, such as a centuries-old château that counted as young, and became enmeshed with Downie’s interior reflections about his reasons for undertaking the journey. Downie’s initial motivation was to improve his health, but after aches and pains suspended the trip, he was sustained by coming to grips with the spiritual auras of the pilgrimage route. Residing in local memory of druids, and in Christian symbols of crosses, churches, and statues of the Virgin Mary, religiosity became a topical constant in Downie’s thoughts and discussions, as did Vercingetorix, Julius Caesar, and François Mitterand. Astutely ruminative, Downie hovers between past and present in this enjoyably offbeat travelogue. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

Past 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
 

Product Details

  • File Size: 4180 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (April 2, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BNPI7YM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,713 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walking in the Past to Understand the Present April 7, 2013
By Oz
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Paris to the Pyrenees masterfully combines history and memoir. Downie is a true scholar whose breadth of knowledge about the succession of settlers and conquerors in the lands along the path of his pilgrimage illustrates how unchanged the human story has been over multiple millenia. And the personal background and yearnings that lead Downie to attempt such a potentially grueling quest,accompanied by his wife Alison, add a catch that integrates all of our individual journeys.The beauty of the land they traverse is vividly portrayed by Downie's words and Alison's photographs. Weaved throughout is a tender narrative of seasoned love between Downie and his wife that provides a framework for a pilgramage that, like life itself, defies absolute resolution.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
82 of 98 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I guess "Vezelay to Macon" wasn't as sexy a title May 15, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The writing was lovely and evocative, but the author did not walk from Paris to the Pyrenees in the pages of this book, he walked from the Tour Saint Jacques to the Peripatique, took a train to Vezelay, walked from there to Macon, and gave us a short summary of his walk from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Roncesvalles. While I enjoyed what he wrote, it was truly a disappointment that we weren't able to follow his entire path, most notably because during the course of the book he hated encountering pilgrims, so seeing him on the portion of the route when he actually had to deal with them would have made a much better story. Oh, and the Kindle version does not have the lovely photographs, so be forewarned.
Was this review helpful to you?
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
When I first heard about this book, I thought that it would be just another Camino de Santiago book (of which there are many). But I bought it anyway, because the book's title intrigued me.
I took the book with me on a month-long trip to Argentina. While there, I re-read the book many times. In fact, I'll be reading it again in the future!
The book is a compelling tale of the author and his companion, who decide to walk part of the Way of St. James, which is one of the many "Ways" to the final destination of Santiago, Spain. One of the main things I loved about the book is that the route they walk is not commonly traveled or written about. It's not an easy route to travel, in the sense that there aren't lots of other travelers doing the same thing. It's a glimpse into traveling off the beaten track, but doing it with a bit more style as well as a intimate view of the French countryside.
I've walked this "Way" myself some years back, and this author captures the experience perfectly. He doesn't waste a lot of time with packing lists, complaining about blisters or talking endlessly about church after church. That's all there, but it's understood that the walk isn't an easy one and that discomforts are part of the journey. Instead, he experiences the journey itself, moment by crystalline moment, allowing you to feel that you are walking beside him. His writing allows you to be not just a reader or observer, but a companion to his journey which becomes your own. While the author calls himself a skeptic in the title, by the end of the book he doesn't seem skeptical at all. He seems to have a deeper understanding of his connection to all things and to see that his path in life is an important one.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book April 3, 2013
Format:Hardcover
This is a beautifully written, cleverly constructed book that explores whole regions of France while describing their inhabitants. David Downie takes you on a unparalleled journey through space and time along which essential questions about life are raised. Sociology, history, geography are conjured up and guide you as you walk the Way of St James with David and his (wonderful) wife Alison, giving the book a multi-layered reality that makes it unique. Sitting in your armchair, you have the feeling of becoming a traveller yourself as the narrative (and Alison's photos) reveal people, landscapes, serendipitous meetings and discoveries of all kinds. You find yourself wishing this journey will never end...
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
David Downie was a fiftyish American expatriate, living in Paris and woefully out-of-shape. As part of his program to redirect his life and reform his body, he determined to hike the French "Way of Saint James", the French counterpart to the more famous Spanish "El Camino de Santiago de Compostela", ending at the Roncesvalle Abbey in the Pyrenees, on the French-Spanish border. Perhaps for the alliterative effect, he entitled his book about the trek PARIS TO THE PYRENEES.

In point of fact, most of the book is about a small segment of the planned hike -- from Vézelay to Mâcon, in Burgundy. In Paris Downie walked only a symbolic 3.26 miles before he and his wife hopped a train to Vézelay. From there, they hiked along country roads and paths, many of which were old Roman roads, to Mâcon, overnighting in country hotels and B&B's. Downie's body gave out just short of Mâcon, so he had to abort his pilgrimage. Downie devotes 299 of his book's 313 pages to that segment of the hike. A thirteen-page epilogue summarizes the final segment of his trek, four months later, from Le Puy-en-Velay to the Roncesvalles Abbey.

Downie's hike in Burgundy contained the makings for a good book, so I don't agree with his (or his publisher's) decision to tout his trek, misleadingly, as "Paris to the Pyrenees". But even with a more honest title, the book that Downie actually wrote would only be fair. Yes, it contains interesting snippets of history, colorful figures met on the road and in hostelries, and information on life in contemporary non-Parisian France. And yes, it is written with good pace and in an informal, slightly irreverent, cheerful style. David Downie is a convivial guy. But he has no filter.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Seeker's walk through Burgundy
Thanks to David Downie for sharing with us his walk through Burgundy, which, he tells us, he undertook to better understand his adopted country, France, and to better understand... Read more
Published 17 days ago by MJM
1.0 out of 5 stars David Downe American Twit
Im sorry but who ever gives this book 4 stars is either a cranky self opinionated yank like the author or a boring "skeptic" that likes the sound of their own world views. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and thought-provoking memoire.
I was a glad traveler to (figuratively) go along as author David Downie and his photographer wife Alison walked in a million measured steps some ancient Gallo/Roman/Christian... Read more
Published 1 month ago by B. Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Show me the way!
I happened upon Downie's book in a good independent book store -- a happy bit of serendipity. Friends have done part of the way of St. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dubitato
2.0 out of 5 stars A Pilgrimage Inside the Author's Head
Downie's Paris Paris is one of my favorite books about that amazing city, which only made my experience with this book that much more disappointing. Read more
Published 2 months ago by K. Goldstein
1.0 out of 5 stars self centered hogwash
After viewing the movie, The Way, I was interested in learning more about this inspirational pilgrimage. Read more
Published 2 months ago by elizabeth Dolinoy
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at history, France, and religion/spirituality
I got this book because I had recently been to France. It was my "read while I wait" book on mobile device --- therefore it took a while to read so I felt I was on the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by JR
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read
We stumbled upon this gem while planning our hike along the Camino and enjoyed every word. The book offers great (and useful) details about life along the French part of the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Richard Holcomb
5.0 out of 5 stars I want to do this!
You are on the to-buy list. There's a whole body of literature starting with the MIddle Ages about this walk. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ruth Paget
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
I had the impression that the author held a glib and flippant attitude towards his experience on the pilgrimage route. Read more
Published 4 months ago by KSreader
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?



Forums

There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 


Look for Similar Items by Category