Lectoure to La Romieu
Monday morning, 30.09 . Today we expect a temperature of 29 degrees. Ahead of us 18.5 km. It would be wise to start early but we find it difficult to get up in the morning. Only at a quarter to ten we reluctantly leave the hotel. The GR65 leads us to the stairs of an old castle and out into the steep street that leads to the valley. Yellow crocuses, delicate cyclamens, fields … We seem to be out of the hunters’ realm. No more orange hats and guns. The heat is getting heavy and at noon we reach to Marsolan. Near the small church there is a coffee bar. While we enjoy the sandwiches, the church bells are ringing constantly. When they finally stop we ask the owner of the coffee bar:”Is there a special event? Are the bells ringing due to Jacques Chirac’s funeral?” She laughs: “In France we have a complete separation between religion and politics. The bells ring three times a day according to custom.” We, who come from a country where religion and politics mix as a routine, can only admire the French people.We leave the village. The next four and a half kilometers are uphill. Fields and forests of oaks makes a great setting. When we reach the junction of Chapelle d’Abrin we stop. The road splits and we turn right to continue to La Romieu. On the side of the road, as in a museum exhibit, are agricultural tools in a variety of colors – red, yellow, green … Combines, tractors, plows and other tools that we do not recognize. Some have round knives, others long arms…Tubes, wheels, hooks…field of mechanical sculptures. It is an impressive display of technology and at the same time it feels like a huge playground.
The trail enters into a tree tunnel in the forest. The shade provides a relief from the heavy heat. At the entrance to the village there is a huge botanical garden with a lake and swans and black plum orchards all around. Above these are the two church towers – square and octagonal.In the main square of the village we sit in a restaurant. At half past three the kitchen is close so apart from beer there’s no chance of getting anything to eat. Beer and snack put us on our feet. Looking around us we notice that the square has lots of cats’ statues. Soon enough we learn that there is a nice legend about a little girl called Angeline . The legend sparked the imagination of Maurice Serreau, the artist who made all these sculptures. Few more cats and we decide to go and see the magnificent Collégiale.
Collégiale St. Pierre
La Romieu was founded by two monks returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, hence the name “LarRoumieu” meaning “pelerin”. ( 1062)
In the 14th century, Arnaud d’Aux built the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter (1312-1318), the cloister and the palace. The church has the plan of a large chapel and was closed to the ordinary people until the French Revolution. We entered the visitor center, enjoyed a short movie and entered to the church. Beautiful, with a unique Rosetta: Jesus head in the middle surrounded by plants- reminds us pictures of Dionysus. 168 stairs lead us to the roof and from there to a terrace with view to the Cloister and to the second tower. On our way down, in the middle of the way, one can see through a small window the nave of the church with a great angle of vision to the colorful stained glass of the windows.
Did I mention that we LOVE Cloisters ?
Well- it’s time to admit- we love cloisters. The harmonious structure, with its delicate pillar avenues and peaceful inner garden. Each has it’s own character and the one of La Romieu is beautiful. It was the living space reserved to the canons and had two floors. The capitals of the cloister were decorated with foliage and figures. The cloister was burnt in 1569. The wooden floors were destroyed and some pillars were partially eroded. We enjoyed our visit and returned to the square and the restaurant. A nice dinner and then our host came and took us to the beautiful old and renovated farmhouse- Au Garcin.