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Lourdes, an important pilgrimage town
Lourdes, a small town and a world-renowned place of spirituality for people of Christian faith, is located in the Midi Pyrenees region in southern France.
The rich history of Lourdes can be resumed to the history of Bernadette Soubirous, a 14 year-old local girl, who in 1858, claimed that a pretty lady appeared to her in the Grotto of Massabielle. This lady told her that she was the Immaculate Conception, and the faithful ones believed her to be the Blessed Virgin Mary. The lady appeared miraculously for 18 times.
Since then, Lourdes has become an important place where history, spirituality and a beautiful landscape mix together. Every year, millions of visitors from around the world come to pray in the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is the 3rd place of Christian pilgrimage in terms of frequentation, a place where people of different cultures come together and share a common goal: the pursuance of spirituality.
The Marian city is also the ideal starting point from which to explore the Pyrenees Mountains.
Lourdes is easily accessible by train from Toulouse or Bordeaux with a 1h42 and 2h33 travelling time respectively. You’ll arrive at the SNCF railway station of Lourdes which is less than a kilometre away from the Sanctuaries of our Lady of Lourdes. This is where your Lourdes visit starts – indeed in the Sanctuaries you will discover the grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in February 1858 as well as the Basilica of the Rosary, built in the Romano-Byzantine style with Venetian mosaic decorations, and the underground basilica, a modern, concrete building, which can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers.
The Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes are open all year round, 24 hours a day. If you are in quest of spirituality, you should know that two periods mark the calendar. From April to October, each day, there are masses which are celebrated in many different languages. Devotes can also attend major celebrations like the international mass, the Blessed Sacrament Procession in the afternoon and the torchlight Procession in the evening. From November to March: many services are also held every day such as the Rosary followed with a little procession to the Grotto, and the Angelus.
Follow the itinerary "In the Footsteps of Bernadette" that will lead you from Bernadette’s birthplace to the Cachot and the Parish Church. After, head to the Fortified Castle. Overlooking the city, it remains one of the city’s major remnants from the 11th to the 19th centuries.
Our tip: No one should visit Lourdes without taking part in the candle light procession. This magnificent spectacle, seen every night from April to the end of October, will amaze you.
After an invigorating night spent in one of the numerous hotels of Lourdes, take the hundred-year-old funicular train up to the summit of Pic du Jer, where you will enjoy a panoramic view of the town and the Pyrenees Mountains. At 1,000 metres, the view will take your breath away.
Afterwards, join an excursion to discover surrounding attractions. Cauterets-Pont d’Espagne is a protected natural area where you will discover its beautiful waterfalls which encompass all the power and romance of the Pyrenean Mountains. The excursion will also take you to Gavarnie, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with 17 summits at over 3,000 metres. Gavarnie is home to Europe’s largest waterfall and such is its beauty that it is almost impossible to describe. It can only be contemplated and discovered.
Finish the day at the Pic du Midi de Bigorre Observatory. At an altitude of 2,877 metres and with an exhibition covering an area of 4,000 square metres, you’ll be ready to let you discover the sky, the sun, the stars and an unrestricted view of the Pyrenees. This astronomical observatory is one of the highest in Europe.
At lunch time, try local specialities like garbure, a nourishing vegetable soup cooked with confit duck, or treat yourself in one of the 200 restaurants offering all kind of international cuisine.
Those who are of Christian faith will de delight by the choice of religious memorabilia and souvenirs.
Lourdes Tourist Office
Place Peyramale, 65100 Lourdes.
Tel: +33 5 62 42 77 40
The city’s tourist office has a helpful personnel, insider information and tips as well as handy maps and brochures. The city’s tourist office also arranges tours and excursions and is a focal point for local accommodation.
Getting to and from Lourdes
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|From St Gaudens||00:55|
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|To St Pierre Des Corps||07:48|
Trains are a convenient way of reaching many towns and cities throughout Europe. The majority of cities in Europe have a minimum of one train station, while larger, more populated cities have two or more stations. Train stations, in general, are located in the heart of the city. Review the map below to get an idea of where the train station(s) in Lourdes can be found.
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