We were awake rather early but laid in bed until 7AM. Breakfast, the usual rolls, croissants, yogurt, and coffee, was at the hotel. We packed and checked out of the hotel, paying 65€ for the room, dinner, and breakfast. After retrieving the bikes from the garage I lubed my chain which had been squeaking a bit the day before. Before heading out of town we rolled over to the Petit Casino where Sarah picked up a baguette, cheese, and some fruit to eat along the road.
I was still a bit unsure of the weather. It was clear when we awoke but was overcast by the time we rolled out of town. Again, it looked more like fog than rain clouds and indeed it cleared up by late morning. The forecasts from early in the week, with rain most of the week, seemed to be designed to dissuade us, not reality.
We started east on D626 through St. Martin, St. Justin, and on through Lasbastides de Armagnac. A planned stop was at Notre Dame de Cyclistes, a church about 3-5 km east of Lasbastides that is dedicated to cycling. We had visited the church at Magreglio, Italy last year which is the home of the Madonna di Ghisallo, the patron saint of cycling. Notre Dame de Cyclistes is the French response, a church dedicated to cyclists and doing duty as a museum of cycling as well as a church. In comparison to the Italian musuem there is less emphasis on racing and more on cycling as a means of transport. But racing has its place and there is a yellow jersey autographed by Lance Armstrong, jerseys of Richard Virenque and other current day French pro racers, along with the jerseys and bikes of champions of the past.
Leaving the church we continued our way across Armagnac, turning to head more southwesterly to get in line to enter the Pyrenees near Lourdes the next day. We did a stop in Le Houga for lunch, then skirted to the east of Aire sur l'Adour. Our goal was to find lodging in Lembeye so we could avoid going near Pau. At about Cadillon, not far from Lembeye, we got our initial look at the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees.
This day's ride was across agricultural areas, in contrast to the forests of the day before. There were the vineyards of Armagnac, pastures, orchards, and a variety of young crops, especially grains. The transition from Landes to Gers is rather obvious and dramatic. Besides the change in crops there is a change in topography; the ride to Rocquefort was quite flat, but we started getting more relief between St. Justin and Lasbastides and that continued for the rest of the day.
Entering Lembeye we spotted a small hotel, the Hotel Perelin, and a larger one further down the street. We opted to try the small one first. Christian, the owner, was soon doting on us. He helped move the bikes into the breakfast parlor for storage, warned us that the new finish on the wooden stairs was slick, and gave us a tour of the hotel. The room was pleasant, relatively large, and lacking only in that the WC (water closet) was down the hall. He told us that dinner was at 7:30PM and asked if we wanted breakfast tomorrow at 6 or 7AM; we opted for 7.
After cleaning up we took a walk into the center of the village. It turned out the larger hotel we had seen was closed for renovations. We found a Petit Casino, which Sarah loved, and bought some soda and water which we consumed on the front porch of the hotel. Afterwards there was time to review routes for tomorrow and take a nap (me) or two (Sarah).
Dinner was in the hotel dining room, where Christian cooked for the guests as well as for his wife and young sons who we heard enjoying the family meal in the kitchen not far from our table. There was plenty of food: soup, frittata, pork with potatoes, all finished with a slice of flan and a small coffee. Sated, we retire to our room for the night.