14 Sep 11: Lectoure to La Romieu

Route: Lectoure to La Romieu  19 km

Underway 0830 (launching takes me 90 minutes regardless of when I start, it seems). First I had to get up the hill to Lectoure, so about 20 km altogether. My targeted distance of 15-20 km daily is proving to be quite enough in this consistent 90 degree heat.

I saw many familiar faces in the peleton today: the Strasbourg 4, the Normandy 8, the Swiss-Am 1. More harvested fields, more heat, some occasional shade. Tiny town at midday had a luxury hotel (200 euros a night!!!!!!!). Met a father and son pair of Kiwis, but they were skipping La Romieu so will be a day ahead of us. Route from the fork is gently but insistently upward, with little shade. There is a huge garden on the outskirts, making La Romieu worth a stop even for non- walkers. A large early Gothic church and abbey cloisters are still standing; built by a Cardinal who was cousin to an early Avignon pope. The frescoes in the sacristy are outstanding but cannot be photographed.

Lodging: Le Couvent. I had a private room in the communal gite, which has become my favorite mode: communal meals but a quiet night’s sleep. The chamber d’hotes are nicer, and often have conversational hosts, but are much more solitary.

Cuisine: The gite reserved a restaurant table for me and Les Normands allowed me to join them; later they collected the Swiss-Am so we had ten at table. Buffet of starters with quiches, charcuterie, and fresh local tomato salad. Main of roast duck breast, spinach soufflé and potato croquettes. Dessert was creme brûlée. We had such conviviality and excellent bilingual conversation! A great evening.

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