Medieval Paris


Because much of Paris was transformed in the 19th century during the Napoleon III era when Haussmann razed older medieval structures and created the wide boulevards which dominate the Right Bank, it’s nice to know whenever an authentic medieval structure gets a new lease on life. Such is the case with The Tour St. Jacques which according to David Downie’s article will be ‘unveiled’ in 2009 (if all goes according to plan). Downie will tell you that he’s interested in the Tour St. Jacques because it was the assembly point for pilgrims headed toward Santiago de Compostela near San Sebastian, Spain. After the Holy Land and Rome, St. Jacques de Compostelle, or Santiago de Compostela was the third major pilgrimage route. In truth, Downie, is interested in everything about Paris history. He keeps digging until he gets to the good parts of any story. Currently he’s at work on a book about his trek with his wife Alison along this famous pilgrimage route this past spring and summer.
I can definitely relate to his fascination with the pilgrimage history. Once you’ve trekked along a part of the trail, the Camino, as people call it, becomes part of you.
My husband and I went with French friends this past May for a short segment of the French portion – between Conques and Cahors. Many people choose to hike sections of the Camino over several years. This helps for people who are working or have other commitments that would keep them from taking off for the two to three months needed to complete the entire route. There are many groups that organize hikes, both in France like La Balaguere or in the US like www.spanishsteps.com or you can just go solo as many people prefer to do, staying at hostels
or more upscale B&Bs along the route. You do not necessarily have to be a ‘believer’ to be inspired by the stupendous scenery you are bound to encounter. It’s also a great way to practice your language skills – as I tried to do when my husband and I did a Spanish portion of the Camino. It will be interesting to see when the St. Jacques tower reopens in 2009 if it will create more of an interest for trips departing directly from Paris.

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(c)2006 Chris Card Fuller

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(c)2006 Chris Card Fuller

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(c) 2006 Chris Card Fuller

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Standing on a Roman bridge in Conques, France.