Teresa and I have been waiting for this day to come for ever, well at least from when we decided that this was the month we’d head out on the next Camino section. What we weren’t looking forward to though was the 6.30 flight from Gatwick Airport which working back meant getting up about 2.30!! At this point I have to thank my wonderful, ever patient husband who offered to drive me there and my dear friend Sharon who had Ellie to stay overnight.
Always excited to get together on our journey again, T and I met up in the baggage dump queue and then predictably visited Pret a Manger to get food to eat on the flight and then to Costa. Looking at us you wouldn’t realise that we were going to spend the next 8 days together as we were catching up as fast as we could, determined not to forget anything.
We flew into Toulouse, probably the closest airport to our start point in Lectoure and it’s always good to be going back as things are familiar and you know where to go to get the bus to the train station (outside the main terminal and opposite the car park, if you’re interested)and where to buy tickets etc so I guess we looked pretty at ease. Once at the station, we had to find the next train to Agen. There was quite a lot of choice so as we figured we might have to wrestle with the ticket machines we wisely decided to get the one leaving in about 45 mins, rather than the one leaving in 2 – good decision. Time for coffee and hot chocolate and time to sort out the ‘kitty’ purse.
When travelling like this we pool our money into a separate purse and that funds our lunch, evening beer, any travel etc, it makes it so much easier than always having to split bills or try to remember who paid last. It’s a good tip so try it if you haven’t already.
I love travelling by French trains, they’re always so clear and so speedy (especially the TGV) and we were in Agen in about an hour. We knew that from there it was a bus ride to Lectoure but weren’t sure where the bus went from and as there was now a great deal of road works, that was even more difficult. Thanks to a lovely railway staff member he not only showed us were, he accompanied us to the bus and as it was leaving immediately, I do feel he would have held the bus for us if needbe.
We’d had a doze on the plane and I was now feeling rather tired again but somehow being back in this lovely area of France had us looking out the window and pointing out the places we’d walked last time and recounting all the stories. Soon Lectoure came in site and again, having been there before we knew the way to our hotel for the night.
The Hotel de Bastard is hidden away amongst the narrow streets of Lectoure but is well signposted and once you enter in through the doorway you are in a beautiful courtyard where lunch and dinner is served when the weather is good. We’d enjoyed our final meal there last year after completing the previous section dined there but sadly this time it was grey and overcast so not looking promising for outdoor dining.
We expected to be on the top floor, clearly where the walkers are put but this was fine and although small, our room was fine. we got sorted and then deciding that we needed food and to explore we set out.
Our last time in Lectoure we’d just walked about 20 miles, arriving just in time for dinner and had to be away the next morning so no time to explore this little town but this time, we had most of the afternoon.
First stop was the Cathedral of St Gervais and St Protais which dates from the 17th and 18th C. It had beautiful stained glass windows and a lot of information about the Camino, which is always lovely to see. The tourist office was closed, still lunch time so we located a couple of boulangeries, very important for lunch the following day and stopped in a little cafe where we had the most delicious omlettes, Teresa had mushroom and I cheese, and we shared these accompanied by a bowl of frites – so yummy. Had the first beer of the holidays too.
Lectoure is one of the oldest towns in the Gers, it’s also a spa town and has ramparts. It’s pretty with some lovely old houses and some great shops. It’s a good job that I couldn’t carry the pottery and I held back over many wonderful pairs of earrings, such restraint.
Below are some of the photos taken on our walking tour. This one starts with the hospital which is such a beautiful old building and still in use as a hospital today.
In the picture below you get an idea of the ramparts
Found these wonderful fungi growing alongside the path. Have no idea whether they are edible or not, probably not. Looked good though and those on the right looked rather like quiches.
Teresa and I both loved this door knocker and there were many using the hand, not sure whether it means something in this area of France.
…and there were great doors.
Then it was back to the hotel to find a large group of Aussies had booked in, also walkers so many pairs of boots at the bottom of the stairs. Given that it was a few hours before dinner, Teresa and I both had a nap and then with great anticipation headed down to eat……. and it didn’t disappoint. We started with a fresh piece of salmon smoked and accompanied by a creamy leek puree type dish topped with a teaspoon of caviar – this was stunning. This was followed by rabbit in a wine sauce with mange tout and a terrine of dauphinoise potatoes and finally a dessert of a dark chocolate and passion fruit slice on a berry coulis. Oh, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
It was hard to climb the stairs to bed.