IMG 0971The Best Western Beauséjour in Lourdes is, according to the Lonely Planet, the pick of a bad bunch. There are a lot of hotels here and our room is small by pretty much any standard but otherwise satisfactory. We don't help things by having to repack all our gear after wash day yesterday.

It's not actually raining this morning and after a satisfactory buffet breakfast in the hotel we decode to chance it and try to move on elsewhere. The Best Western does not entice us for a second night.

First though we feel that we must at least see the famous grotto. It's clearly signposted and indeed if it were not you only have to follow the hordes of people to find the large church that marks the spot. Failing that you can head for the highest density of tat shops you can find and that should do it too.

Never in the field of human endeavour have there been so many little shops devoted to selling what can only be described as rubbish. It's truly astounding.

The Grotto itself is unremarkable being a shallow depression in the rock with damp walls. Mary queued up to take a close look.

IMG 0972Water (from the grotto one assumes although there is no sign of this?) is dispensed in a series of taps around the base of the cliff. Many, many people are filling a myriad of containers (many purchased at the aforementioned tat shops) from these taps. It's hard to see how there can be enough water from the damp walls of the grotto to achieve this, doubtless nothing to do with the huge river flowing past 30 feet away.

There are baths too but we move away to see if the bikes are still on the footpath where we dumped them In the French manner and "get out of Dodge".

We only make it a few hundred meters before the rain sets in so an impromptu lunch stop is called - for an hour or so - in a very fine bakery. The decision gets made to go to Roquefort (not the cheese one) about 100km north as the rain radar shows the showers to be well spaced. A further impromptu stop has to be made under a covered market for half an hour but otherwise we make it to the St Vincent Hotel in Roquefort in good time and quite dry.

One of the St Vincent hotels claims to fame is their dinners, the owner is a chef (in the Michelin Guide) so it's an obvious call. For my taste it's a little avant guard but Mary think it excellent. Regardless the meal is beautifully presented and extremely good.