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Paris to the Pyrenees: Book Tour Schedule April/May 2013


Updated May 2, 2013: exciting new radio-book event added to schedule! See below!!


Please come to one of the many events organized on both coasts to mark the publication on April 15, 2013 of Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James.

“Evocative and moving… an extraordinary account that illuminates France past and present and casts a light on something even greater: the truth that, however we choose to label our journey, we are all pilgrims on a common quest, to answer why we wander life’s question-paved path.” (Don George – National Geographic Traveler, pick of the month, March 2013)


Listen to an interview with NPR's legendary radio host Jacki Lyden about the book and our adventure.

Here's the schedule. The story follows in detail. Looking forward to seeing you! David/Alison



Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James

Book Tour Schedule Spring 2013

Press contact: Jessica Case, Pegasus Books, Senior Editor

80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004 212-504-2924

We've done Washington DC, NYC, Seattle area, Portland… and are on our way to SF…


May 8

6 pm, in conversation with award-winning poet Sandra Gilbert

Book Passage Ferry Building

San Francisco, California 94118

tel: 415- 835 1020

Contact: Karen West | Director of Events & Conferences | 415.927.0960 x238

May 9

7:30 PM

Kepler's Books

1010 El Camino Real

Menlo Park, CA 94025


Contact: Pam Grange

May 11: two events

10am to noon

West Coast Live, Live from The Chapel, SF

West Coast Live is broadcast live in front of a theatre audience. The audience size varies, but it’s important to note that there will be up to 100 people (or more) watching.

West Coast Live is aired live Saturday mornings 10am-noon in the San Francisco Bay Area on KALW, 91.7 FM, as well as many public radio stations nationwide. A list of affiliates (as well as a lot of other information about the show) can be found at The show can be streamed live (and for a week after) at

Details: Live from The Chapel, SF

The Chapel is a new music venue and restaurant located in the heart of the Mission District in a 1914 building that was originally built as a mortuary. The beautiful chapel with its 40-foot high arched ceiling has been converted to a music room with mezzanine, while the rest of the building has been remodeled to hold a restaurant and casual grill with an outdoor dining patio.


4 pm, in conversation with travel guru Don George

Book Passage Corte Madera

51 Tamal Vista Blvd

Corte Madera,California 94925

tel: 415 927 0960

Please see individual blog posts on these events for details, or contact the bookstore directly. Thank you!

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The bumph: Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James. Part adventure-story, part memoir and cultural history, the author of Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light and his wife Alison Harris hit the road… would they make it over the Pyrenees? (Excellent question!)

The story:

Driven by curiosity, wanderlust, and health crises David Downie and his wife Alison Harris 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) via Burgundy, their eccentric route took 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 and Harris, 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 a secular pilgrimage in his own maverick way. Paris to the Pyrenees features 32 pages of color photographs by noted photographer Alison Harris.

“In the tradition of Patrick Leigh Fermor… Downie’s adroit, learned, and ambitious book re-invigorates my sense of travel, taking me back to the happy knowledge that the world is still large, and history unfathomably deep.” (Frances Mayes, author of The Tuscan Sun Cookbook and Under the Tuscan Sun)

“Bristling with knowledge and often with 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. It’s a hard book to put down.” (G. Y. Dryansky, author of Coquilles, Calva and Creme)

“Richly textured, meticulously detailed, a compelling, picaresque narrative of adventures on the road and a sophisticated meditation on the past, present and future of France.” (Sandra M. Gilbert, author of Kissing the Bread)

“Brilliant, witty and stylish.” (Anton Gill, author of The Sacred Scroll)

“A wonderful book: historically, culturally and spiritually fascinating, refreshingly honest without being self-aggrandizing, full of humor and sharp observation of the people and the landscape. Downie is a great companion on the road.” (Imogen Robertson, author of Instruments of Darkness)

“David Downie’s pilgrimage/anti-pilgrimage has two things no one else does. One is his inimitable wit. The other: he travels not just in space, but in time, creating constant delightful surprise and reassuring familiarity. An atheist who starts the Way of Saint James necessarily sees the world with a certain irony. One who finishes the trail from Paris to the Spanish border won’t let that irony consume him. It is the conversation between the two that makes this such a special book.” (Andrew Riggsby, Professor of Classics and of Art History, The University of Texas at Austin)

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