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Yesterday evening, we reached the village of Lantabat, just past Ostabat Asme, a famous place on the road to Saint James of Compostela. To get to Lantabat, we had to climb a small col of about 400 meters, which was easy compared to what awaits us in the coming days.

This morning, we had breakfast with the leftovers we had: half a sandwich and a petit pain au raisins for Floris. Using our small water kettle, we boiled water and made a nice coffee with instant coffee, milk, and sugar. We said goodbye to the host after giving him an extra 10 euros for the ingredients for the delicious pasta meal we had last night, which included pasta, eggs, grated cheese, and a bottle of wine. We wished him well as he's been receiving treatment at the St.-Palais hospital for the past year and a half.

The views on the way from Lantabat to Oloron-Sainte-Marie, a house built with pebbles from the river

From Lantadat, thankfully, we don't need to cross the col again, but we have to go back to Saint-Palais where the two Camino de Santiago routes, the Via Turonensis and the Via Lemovicensis, converge. On the other side of the town, pilgrims heading to Santiago turn right towards Saint Jean-de-Pied-de-Port. They also arrive from the secondary pilgrim route along the French side of the Pyrenees, leading to St. Jean-de-Pied-de-Port. They are joined by the pilgrims who go to Santiago along the Via Podensis coming from Le Puy- en-Velay.

At this location outside Saint Palais, Floky and I completed our first task of this long journey. We cycled from Belgium over different sections of the Camino to Chartres and then fully cycled the Via Turonensis in 17 days, including one rest day. It wasn't easy as we faced various weather conditions and had some mishaps, especially with a fall and the loss of a piece of luggage that we didn't notice yesterday. But we accomplished the Via Turonesis, and we are proud of it.

Oloron- Sainte-Marie

In the next few days, we'll take an extra stretch of the secondary Camino to Oloron-Sainte-Marie and then, hopefully, cross the Somport Pass into the Spanish Camino and the Via Aragones. Many pilgrims who followed the Via Tolosona from Italy through Toulouse crossed the Somport Pass, a mountain at 1600 meters. We will also attempt it, knowing it's not easy with bikes.

Today, we cycled along the Pyrenees towards Oloron-Sainte-Marie. It was a gray and rainy morning, but we pedalled cheerfully as the road gradually ascended. We cycle a long stretch along the Gave de Pau. Gaves are mountain rivers and as we pass through charming villages with no world-famous churches, we notice that more and more houses are built or restored using round pebbles of various shapes from the river. Some houses have beautiful chevron patterns made with these unique stones, a typical feature of this region.

Oloron- Sainte-Marie

Around 1:00 PM, we reach Oloron-Sainte-Marie, which is divided into two parts, as the name suggests, at the confluence of two rivers, the Gave d'Aspe and the Gave d'Ossau. There are lovely passerelles (footbridges) connecting the three districts formed by the confluence.

Before heading to our B&B, we go grocery shopping at a nearby Leclerc as our supplies are depleted. We arrive at Rue de Camou at 2:30 PM to stay in our B&B at number 40 with Gudrun, a Swedish woman married to André. Both of them used to work in the care sector for people with disabilities. They have three beautiful grown-up daughters, and they've been running the B&B successfully for years. We are warmly welcomed with a refreshing glass of local beer, which is delightful. Our spacious room provides a comfortable space, and our bikes find a safe spot in the garden.

Oloron-Ste-Marie: Our B&B

After a shower and some rest, we explore the town of 11,000 inhabitants. There are many steep streets with beautiful walking paths and views of the two converging rivers. Floky wanders around while I visited two churches. First, I climb up the hill to the Ste Croix church, an original 11th-century Benedictine building in pure Romanesque style. The dome at the intersection is particularly beautiful, and inside, there is a stunning Mozarabic vault reminiscent of the one in Torres del Rio on the Camino Francés. The church has magnificent columns with beautiful capitals and a captivating baroque altar.

Oloron-Ste-Marie: Ste Croix church

Next, I head to the Notre Dame Cathedral on the other side of the city. It is a lovely Gothic building with a covered narthex on the west side and a unique Romanesque tympanum. The simplicity of the design is striking, and the sculpted images on the tympanum are remarkably beautiful. I can't help but notice the gilding on part of the tympanum.

We return to our B&B, where we heat up our meal and enjoy it on a covered terrace. I bought a bottle of white dry Jurançon wine, the wine from the Pyrenees, and chilled it for a few hours. It pairs perfectly with a slice of French bread and cheese. Floky has noodles with shrimps and also tries a glass of wine. We chat at the table before retiring to our room for a restful night's sleep. I'll make a call to Magda and then off to bed. Another wonderful day behind us.

Tomorrow, we'll be close to the Somport Pass as we plan to sleep in Urdos, but we hope we're ready for it. I'll make a call to Magda and then off to bed. Another wonderful day behind us.

Oloron-Ste-Marie: Notre Dame cathedral

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