Soon - after a delightful woodland walk along the edge of a limestone escarpment - the path passed directly by the Abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Grandmont. It was open so I left my rucksack with the girl at the ticket office (a reduced rate for pilgrims!) and explored. And by early afternoon I'd come to Lodève, a small cathedral city at the confluence of the Lergue and Soulondres rivers. I liked Lodève very much. Here's one of my early views of it:
The gîte d'étape La Mégisserie in Lodève was one of the best I'd ever stayed in. The hospitalier Pierre who'd refurbished it (aided by a grant) was justifiably proud of his work. At €18 a night (€30 with evening meal) it was a little more expensive than the €10 I normally paid - but, hell, this place had a lift, en-suite rooms with power showers, and cordon bleu cuisine! Pierre was an excellent chef, and the kitchen was modern and extensively equipped. It was more like a boutique hotel than a walkers' hostel.