Lectoure – La Romieu

Lectoure is one of the oldest towns in the Gers. The Cathedral of SS Gervais and Protais is wonderful. The town itself is surrounded by ramparts and has a 17th century Hotel de Ville.

On the way out of town I stopped at a small shop for provisions. As I laid the rucksack against the wall, the scallop shell I had obtained in Le Puy split into three parts. Most pilgrims on the Way of Saint James attached a scallop shell to their packs or walking staffs. It was a symbol of the Way and signified to others that you were a pilgrim. I was upset that the shell had broken and hoped that it was not an omen of what was to come! I collected the three parts and carefully put them into the rucksack. I was determined to keep the fragmented pieces of shell with me to Santiago de Compostela.

The rain clouds gathered soon after leaving Lectoure. The wind and rain started as I approached Marsolan and the poncho was quickly unpacked. The wind and rain made me a bit down as I plodded onwards.

Finally the rain did ease and I decided to stop for the night at La Romieu (the village takes it name from the romieux or pilgrims that passed through this important place in medieval times). The walls of the old buildings were adorned with many statues of cats. There was an ancient legend concerning La Romieu and the village was often known as ‘the village of the cats’. I had completed 32km the day before and was tired. I had only covered 19km today.

The 14th century collegial church at La Romieu

The 14th century collegial church at La Romieu

Continuing the bad luck, the pilgrim accommodation at the former convent was full. It was the “Fête des Mères” holiday in France. The only alternative was to camp at the local camp site. Arriving there I was at least pleased that it had been voted as one of the top ten camp sites in Europe by some travel organisation. I don’t remember which but the certificate was suitably impressive. Before cooking a camp meal on the gas stove I pitched my small tarp and laid out the mat and sleeping bag for the nights rest. The rain started again and became heavier. I was not looking forward to the night ahead. I considered I would move to the covered restaurant area if it became any worse. It was very damp and cold. I retired early feeling glum and lonely. I had forgotten to wash my socks too.

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