Almost one thousand years ago, in the eleventh century, two monks returning from a pilgrimage to Rome founded a small priory and built a church—dedicated to Notre-Dame—here, where the Hôtel de Ville now stands, in La Romieu.
Over the next 300 years, the village grew in prominence. In 1318, a collegiate church, dedicated to Saint-Pierre, was built to accommodate the Cardinal and fourteen canons. Soon after this, the Cardinal’s Palace and a cloister were added.
(Published February 2021)
In 1569, during the Wars of Religion, La Romieu came under attack from the English. The village was badly damaged and the cloister was burned, destroying the wooden upper floors.
Two centuries later in 1790, following the French Revolution, the original church of Notre-Dame was destroyed and the collegiate church of Saint-Pierre became the parish church.
The tombs of the Cardinal and his nephews are tucked away in the side walls near the front of the church, and a door to the left leads up to the top of the Belvedere Tower. The stairs are narrow and don’t encourage two-way traffic. I suggest calling out to make sure the way is clear before you start the climb.
From the top, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the village, the cloister and the tower which is all that remains of the Cardinal’s Palace. (The Cardinal’s Tower is the only part of the complex not open to the public).
The complex is open to the public every day (opening hours vary according to the season). Allow an hour to explore the church and cloister, and enjoy the view from the top of the Belvedere Tower.
In mid-June, La Romieu hosts an arts festival, with artworks displayed throughout the village. In late July, a music festival offers concerts in the church and cloister and throughout the village.
Fourteen kilometres (almost nine miles) after leaving Lectoure, a variante of the GR 65 Chemin de Saint-Jacques bypasses La Romieu, reducing the walk to Condom by five kilometres (three miles).
Many walkers take this shortcut, unaware of the charms that La Romieu offers. If you choose to take this detour, you’ll miss what, I believe, is one of the highlights of this section of the walk.
Which long-distance walk in France visits La Romieu?
Where is La Romieu, France? Find it on Google maps
La Romieu is located 502 kilometres (313 miles) along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques – a twenty-seven day walk from the starting point of Le-Puy-en-Velay.
Click through to find my suggested itinerary for all five stages of the walk
If you prefer to set your own agenda, I share the steps I take to plan my itinerary on any long-distance walk (using the Chemin de Stevenson as a case study)
La Romieu is one of eleven ‘most beautiful villages’ found along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy. Find them all here.
Tourist Office in La Romieu
You’ll find the Tourist Office on Place Étienne Bouet. Opening hours are listed here.
A schedule of festivities held during the year is listed here.
Opening hours for the church and cloister vary throughout the year. You’ll find the schedule here.
Accommodation in La Romieu
La Romieu offers a good selection of gîtes and chambres d’hôtes. During the summer months when the arts and music festivals are held, rooms can be scarce. I recommend booking well ahead.
Options for accommodation include –
Camp de Florence
Where to eat in La Romieu
You’ll find meals served at l’Étape d’Angeline and The Cardinal restaurants in La Romieu. During the summer months when the village is busy with visitors, I recommend reserving a table in advance or taking the demi-pension option with your accommodation where available.
For more practical supplies, you’ll also find a bakery and supermarket in the village.