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DAY 26: from CONDOM to MOISSAC, 85 km

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Due to the fear of extreme heat, we rose early again, and after a quick breakfast, we were on the road by 6:45 AM. First, we cycled to the center of Condom as it was too hot there yesterday. Now, the old center was calm. A municipal worker was sweeping around the statue of the Four Musketeers, who are incredibly popular in this region. Streetlights were still on, and here and there, pilgrims were already on the move—some with heavy backpacks, others with small carts they pull to walk more easily.


Condom: Bruno in front of the statue of the four musketeers, St Peter's cathedral


We couldn't enter at this early hour, but there was enough information on panels around the church to learn something about it. The first Saint-Pierre Cathedral was completely demolished in 1368 and rebuilt by a bishop named Bernard Alamand, who completed the work around 1400. This is the building we see today. It was rebuilt in 1507 after the bell tower collapsed. It's a fine example of Mediterranean Gothic style with a single nave. The nave itself reminds me of the Albi Cathedral. In 1569, it was nearly leveled to the ground by the gangs of Montgomery, a Protestant leader and iconoclast. However, the residents managed to save the cathedral by paying a ransom of 30,000 pounds.


Condom early in the morning


After a tour of the old town, we head towards the village of Romieu, known for its beautiful collegiate abbey church. The road there is particularly challenging, with many ascents to conquer and thankfully, some steep descents afterward. The abbey complex is exceptionally beautiful with sturdy towers and a lovely cloister. We're on the Via Podiensis, and you can tell from the houses where pilgrims sleep and leave their shoes outside to keep the house clean.


Romieu: the abbey


After Romieu, we ride over various hills to the village of Marsolan, perched on a hilltop with a breathtaking view of the surroundings. We have coffee and eat a croissant there while other pilgrims also have breakfast. Back on our bikes, we continue to the beautiful town of Lectoure, again perched on a steep hill. The Saint-Gervais and Saint-Protais Cathedral boasts a magnificent tower, and inside, there are beautiful stained glass windows and sculptures. We leave the town, riding through its old streets and along the ancient city walls.


Taking a break in Marsolan


From Lectoure, it's uphill and downhill again to the town of Miradoux with the Saint-Orens and Saint-Louis Church. This church is built on the site of the former castle and features a Renaissance entrance portal that originates from the castle. We picnic next to the church, and while we eat, I charge our phones at the outlets inside the church. Then, we cycle to Flamarens with its beautiful castle and a nearby church that's mostly collapsed. The friends of the Flamarens church are trying to find the necessary resources to rebuild the collapsed section of the church wall.

Lectoure, the Saint Gervais and Saint Protais church; Miradoux, covered market


This brings us to Auvillar, a magnificent example of an old bastide with very charming houses and, above all, a unique 18th-century hall or covered market. There's also the Saint-Pierre Church, partially destroyed but still worth a visit. After Auvillar, we reach the Garonne Valley and even cross the Garonne River itself.


Flammarens


Along the Garonne River runs a canal, the Canal Latéral de la Garonne. This canal connects to the Canal du Midi in Toulouse, linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. We decide to conclude the last part of the day by cycling 7 km along this Canal Latéral since it offers a lot of shade. Today, we've had a covered sky from 7 AM to 1 PM, and then the sun started shining intensely, forcing us to seek shade. Around three o'clock and after 85 km of pedaling, we reach Moissac, tired and overheated.Langs de Garonne loopt ook een kanaal , het canal latéral de la Garonne.


Auvillar: city gate and covered market; cycling along the Garonne

We can immediately go to the apartment that Magda has rented for us. It's excellent. The lady explains that her late grandmother used to live there with her daughter and family, and now, since her passing, it's used as a Gîte. I take a shower immediately, then head to the Saint-Pierre Abbey Church and the cloister for a visit because they'll be closed tomorrow morning. Bruno takes a shower after me and lies down on the bed, falling asleep. He wakes up when I call him.


Moissac: the abbey church and the cloister


I take my time to thoroughly photograph the splendid south entrance of this abbey church. A judgmental God is surrounded by the four symbols of the evangelists. On the sides, vices are depicted, including lust or luxuria, shown as a woman bitten by two serpents on her breasts. Inside this church are also several beautiful sculptures, including a 15th-century entombment, a medieval Pietà with John and Mary Magdalene, and a depiction of the flight to Egypt. Lastly, I visit the splendid cloister adjacent to the church, known for its unique capitals. Some photos give a general idea of this cloister.


Moissac, abbey church: a judgemental God with tetramorph, the flight to Egypt qnd an entombment


After my visits, I need to do some shopping: food for Bruno and me, and a new pair of reading glasses for me. Today, my glasses broke while cycling, but for 14 euros, I buy a new one. Quickly back to the apartment, have dinner with Bruno, and now, I'm writing the blog. This final task is now complete. It's been an incredibly busy day on the Via Podiensis, and we're both utterly exhausted. Tomorrow, we're heading to Cahors and many other places along the way. Much love to everyone following us and providing ongoing encouragement.


Moissac, abbey church: Luxuria and two capitals in the cloister


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