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Day 14: from Bordeaux to Labouheyre in the Landes, 95 km

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

At 7 o'clock, we get out of bed and at 7:45, we sit at the breakfast table with Christian and Christiane. We enjoy a pleasant conversation about the last two days we spent with them. Both mentally and physically, we feel fully rested. Experiencing their genuine hospitality and deep friendship after 20 years of no contact is heartwarming. We leave with tears in our eyes, promising not to wait another 20 years for the next meeting.


We leave their street, cross the Pont de Pierre, and head south along Rue Victor Hugo through the calm Saturday morning streets of Bordeaux. Soon, we pass Talence, where the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Bordeaux is located, where we had many meetings during our work with the Maisons pour la Science over more than ten years.


Saying goodbye to Christian and Christiane, The university of Bordeaux, Science department in Talence


Soon, we arrive at the Priory of Cayac, a small abbey built along an ancient Roman road. Originally, it consisted of a church, a hospital next door, and a cemetery where deceased patients from the hospital were buried. Across the road were the accommodations of the Hospitaller Brothers and other buildings. There was probably a vault between the two parts that allowed for the reception of pilgrims and the care of the sick, as well as religious ceremonies. The building with towers was later constructed by the Carthusians, an order founded by St. Bruno. Today, it is a peaceful area with lots of greenery and a fresh stream.


The Priory of Cayac


However, the tranquility is disrupted today due to the traditional chassé croisé des juillettistes et des aôutiens, where holidaymakers from July head home while a new wave arrives in the Landes, a popular vacation spot for many French and Belgian tourists. The roads are crowded, and we decide to leave the main Départementale road. We stop at a local bakery for coffee and petit pain, and the owner tells us that he sells up to 150 large baguette sandwiches on such busy days. By 10:30, his bakery is almost empty.


Floky takes one of the firebreaks built and improved since the heavy fires of the summer of 2022 in the Landes. After a few kilometres, I, opi, have to give up as my bike gets stuck in the sand, and I don't have the energy of young Floris to plow through it. I take a detour and rejoin the busy road, passing by many tourists often driving slower than I can cycle.


Riding through the pinewoods and sandy roads of the Landes to Moustey


We agreed to meet near the two churches in the village of Moustey. On the way, I stop at the Intermarché in the town of Belin-Béliet to buy our lunch. I arrive first in Moustey, and Floky informs me that he's struggling further in the sand, even having to walk at times. While waiting for him, I visit the two churches of Moustey.


One of the churches, the oldest of the two, is the Notre Dame in Romanesque style. It has a bell tower-wall with a wooden construction and sound holes at the top to send the sound of the bells throughout the village. Now, it serves as an exhibition space and has shops with local art. At the rear of the choir, there are beautifully restored old frescoes that have a modern feel. A few meters away is the St. Martin church, and both churches shared the same cemetery. The Notre Dame was associated with a leper colony and intended for the reception of pilgrims on their way from Tours to Santiago de Compostela.

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Moustey: Notre Dame with sound holes and frescoes


A few meters away is the St. Martin church, and both churches shared the same cemetery. The Notre Dame was associated with a leper colony and intended for the reception of pilgrims on their way from Tours to Santiago de Compostela.


The parish church of Saint-Martin, the second church, was built a century later and has the shape of a Latin cross. You enter through a small narthex with beautiful wooden doors. The church dedicated to Saint Martin is the larger of the two and is currently used as a parish church. One of the modern stained glass windows depicts Saint James in a pilgrim's robe. The south wall of the church has a bricked-up doorway at the back, known as the "door of the cagots." Cagots refers to a caste of excluded believers who were descendants of lepers. They had a separate seating area at the back of the church and a separate holy water font, etc.


The surroundings are now particularly attractive with a large green space around the two churches. After waiting for half an hour, Floky arrives, and we have lunch together. Then, we head towards the town of Pissos, also along the Via Turonensis, where I take a quick photo of the church, even though it's not as beautiful. I tend to stop easily for churches.


Moustey: St Martin church with stained glass window of St James dressed as a pilgrim


The surroundings are now particularly attractive with a large green space around the two churches. After waiting for half an hour, Floky arrives, and we have lunch together. Then, we head towards the town of Pissos, also along the Via Turonensis, where I take a quick photo of the church, even though it's not so beautiful. I tend to stop easily for churches.


Floky wants to continue his own way on the sandy fire roads through the Landes, but I struggle to keep up and decide to take the D 34 towards Labouheyre instead. The road is much quieter now, with the flow of incoming and outgoing tourist cars dried up.


The church of Labouheyre, the castle that is our next B&B with a very attractive lounge


Floky wants to continue his own way on the sandy fire roads through the Landes, but I struggle to keep up and decide to take the D 34 towards Labouheyre instead. The road is much quieter now, with the flow of incoming and outgoing tourist cars drying up. We reach our final destination of the day around 5 PM, and Floky is already waiting for me in front of the church.


Together, we ride to our accommodation for the night, a B&B run by two men, Gabriel and Richard, in a small castle with a beautiful park, featuring an incredibly large classified Lebanese cedar tree. There are six massive rooms with old furniture, but everything is a bit rundown. We are the only guests, and there are hardly any electrical outlets or light points, just one bedside lamp in our large room. Fortunately, there is internet, and despite the shortcomings, the atmosphere is cozy, and the price is reasonable, 95 euros for two rooms, dinner, and breakfast included. Magda couldn't find anything else as everything was fully booked, so she started calling the phone numbers listed for pilgrim accommodations. The dinner is simple and delicious, and we feel like castle lords as Gabriel cooks and serves us while Richard enjoys a few (too many) aperitifs outside. After a refreshing shower, we quickly go to sleep, with me taking some time to call Magda.


The garden of our B&B: Floky enjoys his dinner and can park his bike in the hallway


Tomorrow, we will continue cycling southward, approaching our next challenge: the Pyrenees.


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