Lisieux is today known worldwide thanks to the figure of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, who lived at the Carmel of Lisieux until the end of her days. Today, the town is an important religious pilgrimage destination, the second largest after Lourdes, with about one million visitors a year.
Many people do not know that Lisieux is not only a religious destination, but one of the oldest towns in Normandy. From the Gallo-Roman period to the Middle Ages, Lisieux has a beautiful historical centre, characterised by half-timbered houses, palaces, a cathedral, a basilica: a rich architectural heritage also surrounded by a zoo, gardens and castles.
The second largest pilgrimage town in France after Lourdes, Lisieux is known throughout the world thanks to Saint Therese. The basilica dedicated to her was consecrated in 1954: it is built in the Neo-Byzantine style mixed with Art Deco decorations, along the lines of the Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre in Paris, Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon and Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille.
The Lisieux Basilica stands out from the other votive churches because of its gigantic nave that can seat 4000 people. The impression of grandeur due to this unique volume accentuates the already significant dimensions: 37 metres under the vault and 50 metres under the dome.
Furthermore, the walls of the Upper Basilica and the crypt are adorned with mosaics that narrate and illustrate the message of St. Teresa. The stained glass windows provide a play of blue light, creating an atmosphere of intimacy and serenity.
La Maison des Buissonnets is the former childhood home of Sainte-Thérèse. Little Thérèse Martin was born in Alençon but moved to Lisieux with her father and sisters after the premature death of her mother.
Thérèse arrived in Lisieux at the age of 5 and this bourgeois house, located a 10-minute walk from the city centre, allows one to retrace her childhood before entering the convent. It houses furniture and personal belongings of Thérèse and her family.
The Cathedral of Saint-Pierre de Lisieux is one of the oldest Gothic cathedrals in Normandy and also one of the least known.
In the heart of the city centre, this late 12th-century Gothic-Norman building perfectly illustrates the architectural transition between the Roman and Gothic styles. It was also the parish church of Sainte-Thérèse and her father Saint Louis Martin. According to tradition, it was in the axial chapel of the cathedral that Thérèse had the revelation of her religious vocation.
The Carmel of Lisieux is the former monastery where St. Therese lived. After taking the veil at the exceptional age of 15, little Thérèse Martin died there at the age of 24.
In the chapel of the Carmel of Lisieux is the reliquary of Sainte-Thérèse: this is a place of meditation, linked to a centre for interpretation of the spiritual message of the saint.
Located in one of the last remaining half-timbered houses in Lisieux, it presents, following a chronological path, the history of the city from its origins to the present day and addresses the multiplicity of its faces: the Gallo-Roman, medieval and classical city, the textile city, the illustrious personalities, Reconstruction and, of course, its religious vocation.
An abundant history, illustrated by more than 300 objects, paintings, photographs in the city’s cure.
Just 5 minutes from Lisieux, the Cerza zoological park covers almost 80 hectares of nature. For the well-being of the species and to recreate the original habitat and natural behaviour, large plains and wide open spaces are reserved for the animals present.
On a walking tour or on board a safari train, you can admire lions, giraffes, rhinos, maki kata, white tigers, bears and flamingos, to name but a few. This gigantic zoological park is home to more than 120 species from all five continents. The Augeron Zoological Study and Reproduction Centre (CERZA) was established in May 1986 and has been involved in the breeding and conservation of endangered wild animals, raising awareness of the problem of animal extinction.
Nicknamed The Wonder of the Pays d’Auge, the castle of Saint-Germain-de-Livet is a true architectural jewel set in a verdant valley in the heart of the Normandy countryside. It is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Normandy.
Just 10 minutes from Lisieux, the castle offers an exceptional view: surrounded by a moat where majestic swans cruise, this architectural marvel combines the features of a 15th-century half-timbered manor house with a chequered construction of stone and glazed brick, typical of the Pré d’Auge style of the late 16th century. The perspective on the château is enhanced by the French-style gardens and its exceptional panorama.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
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Not far from Caen, Lisieux is located in the Calvados department and is the capital of the Pays d'Auge region.