Literary Salon: David Downie

LEFT COAST WRITERS LITERARY SALON:  David Downie, Author of A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

David Downie
David Downie

Monday, June 1st, 2015 || 7pm
Book Passage-Corte Madera|| 51 Tamal Vista Dr. Corte Madera ||

A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light is a combination of memoir, history, and travelogue, an irreverent quest to uncover why Paris is (or is claimed to be) the world’s most romantic city—and has been for over 150 years.

A Passion for Paris is about Paris’s secluded, atmospheric parks, artists’ studios, cafes, restaurants and streets little changed since the 1800s, a treasure hunt exuding romance. The art and architecture, the cityscape, riverbanks, and the unparalleled quality of daily life are part of the romantic equation.

But the city’s allure derives equally from hidden sources: querulous inhabitants, a bizarre culture of heroic negativity, and a rich historical past supplying enigmas, pleasures and challenges—things it took David decades to begin to understand. The glamor and chic and the carefree atmosphere of the City of Light grew from and still feed off the dark fountainheads of riot, rebellion, mayhem and melancholy—and the subversive literature, art and music of the Romantic Age.

In the book he weaves the story of his own life in Paris with the lives and loves of Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, Charles Baudelaire, Balzac, Nadar and other great Romantics thrilling in the city’s secular romantic pilgrimage sites and asking myself, Why Paris, not Venice or Rome—the tap root of “romance”—or Berlin, Vienna and London—where the earliest Romantics built castles-in-the-air and sang odes to nightingales?

“Downie is the consummate guide… encyclopedic knowledge of the city and its magical story. Anyone who loves Paris will adore this joyful book.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[I]ntrepidly researched, entrancingly descriptive, ruminative, funny, and revealing… provocative… exquisitely written… a gorgeously discursive and affecting homage to Paris’ ‘great Romantics,’ and to the city itself, redolent with art, literature, and longing.”
—Donna Seaman, BOOKLIST (starred review)

David Downie is a native San Franciscan who moved to Paris in the mid-1980s and now divides his time between France and Italy. His travel, food and arts features have appeared in over 50 print magazines and newspapers worldwide and on dozens of websites. He’s currently a European correspondent for the popular literary travel website

He’s also co-owner and operator (with his wife Alison Harris) of Paris, Paris Tours – custom walking tours of Paris, Burgundy, Rome and the Italian Riviera.

Downie is the author of over a dozen nonfiction books, two thrillers, dozens of anthologies (as a contributor) and an app about Paris (featuring key Dates from 8000 BC to the present, plus key People, Places and Events).

His nonfiction works include two critically acclaimed books about Paris and France, Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptical Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James (April 2013), a National Geographic Traveler pick-of-the-month; and the evergreen volume of essays, Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light (now into its 9th printing).

Other food/wine and travel books by David D. Downie include Food Wine Rome and Food Wine Burgundy, plus Quiet Corners of Rome, Enchanted Liguria and Cooking the Roman Way.

Downie’s second novel of suspense Paris City of Night is a classic page-turner Alfred Hitchcock might have liked.