Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Walking It All out at 15 Miles a Day

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Walking It All out at 15 Miles a Day

Article excerpt

MILES AWAY: A WALK ACROSS FRANCE by Miles Morland. Random House, 238 pp., $21.

ABOUT halfway through this charming account of a couple's walk across France, the author, who recently quit a lucrative job at an investment company and has also just reunited with his wife, acknowledges that this walk is a sort of pilgrimage. "I like pilgrimages, journeys with a destination, both physically and in the soul. I felt our walk was a pilgrimage of a kind, not just a journey from sea to sea, but a crossing into a different life." You finish "Miles Away: A Walk Across France" thinking every marriage, indeed every person, needs what Miles Morland and his wife refer to as "the Walk."

The part of France they walk through is not as constantly written about as the popular and picturesque Provence. Stretching from Narbonne on the Mediterranean Sea to just north of Biarritz on the Atlantic Ocean, the region the couple covers has many of the aspects of Provence: the little villages with an air of history, the tiled roofs, the out-of-the-way restaurants (which, contrary to popular opinion, don't all rate stars), the slower pace of life, the sun, but, unlike Provence, not so many tourists. It's the perfect spot to figure out one's future, reinvigorate one's marriage, and all at the pace of 15 miles a day.

That's not exactly a stroll. The Morlands meticulously planned their itinerary so they could carry few possessions. They washed out their clothes every night before falling into bed at small hotels spaced fairly evenly apart. This walk was an important symbol for the rejuvenation of their marriage, and it was a risky move. Take a long walk with someone, even someone you think you know well, and you have the potential for tremendous rows. Miles and his wife, Guislaine, have a few, but not enough to threaten their commitment to each other and the Walk.

There is a difference between a writer like Morland and polished literary travel writers like Bruce Chatwin and Jan Morris. …

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