Lourdes

The world's second largest Catholic pilgrimage destination, Lourdes is a medieval town at the foot of the Pyrenees, set in a beautiful natural environment.
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Lourdes is located in south-western France, at the foot of the mountain range that separates France from Spain, in the Hautes Pyrénées department in Occitanie.

The city welcomes millions of visitors and pilgrims from all over the world every year. In fact, it is the fourth largest Catholic pilgrimage site in the world after the Vatican, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City and the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil. Its fame derives from the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1858.

In addition to its religious heritage, Lourdes is a superb historical city and also a perfect base from which to discover a magnificent region, full of wonders such as the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, which culminates at 2877 metres above sea level with its beautiful panoramic terraces, or the Pont d’Espagne in the Pyrenees National Park or the Cirque de Gavarnie, a colossal natural work of art.

Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

Every year, almost 6 million visitors from more than 140 countries come to share their stories and hopes in this small mountain village where, in 1858, a young girl named Bernadette saw the Virgin appear eighteen times in a grotto near the river. Since then, this mystical place of great contemplation has attracted millions of faithful in search of the miraculous virtues of the holy water from this spring, which is supposed to heal the sick. To date, 7,000 healing practices have been deposited in Lourdes and 69 of them are considered miraculous.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes covers an area of 52 hectares. Within the grounds are 22 places of worship. Some of these places are not to be missed: from the famous Grotto of Massabielle, where the apparitions took place, to the Basilica of Saint Pius X via the Basilica of Notre-Dame du Rosaire. It takes about three hours to visit the entire complex, excluding any time needed for masses.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is open all year round and celebrations are organised in several languages. The pilgrimage season covers the period from Easter to the end of October. During this time, several highlights take place, including

In addition, two processions mark the daily life of visitors to the Sanctuary. The Eucharistic procession and the blessing of the sick is celebrated every day at 5pm from Easter to the end of October. The famous torchlight procession, the highlight of the day for visitors to Lourdes, takes place every evening at 9pm during the same period.

Things to do in Lourdes

Lourdes is one of those places detached from everyday life, with timeless beauty. Every year, almost 6 million visitors from more than 140 countries come to share their stories and hopes in this small mountain town that has become famous for the apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

The most visited of French cities after Paris, it nevertheless retains a certain tranquillity and meditative character to offer a place of contemplation, charm and legend to which no one remains insensitive.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

11 Av. Mgr Théas, 65108 Lourdes, France (Website)

The sanctuary is in fact Lourdes’ main tourist attraction: it includes the Grotto of Massabielle, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared, the basilicas of the Immaculate Conception, St Peter and the Rosary, fountains and pools. Inside, there are reception areas for the sick and a monumental Way of the Cross.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place conducive to contemplation. The calmness of the place, the fervour of the pilgrims present, and the symbols of the site are essential elements for travellers in search of spirituality. Coming to Lourdes is the promise of a unique experience.

Cave of Massabielle

In 1858, Lourdes had little more than 4,000 inhabitants when the Virgin appeared to the young Bernadette Soubirous in a dark, dirty ravine. After the first apparition of the Lady in the Rock, 17 more would follow, until 16 July 1858.

Pilgrims come from all over the world to touch the rock, which brings good luck and healing. To the right of the Grotto, there are the Fountains where one can drink the water of Lourdes. On contact with this water, several inhabitants of Lourdes and its surroundings were ‘miraculously’ healed. Since then, the water of Lourdes has fed the Sanctuary’s fountains. Access is free and many pilgrims are eager to bring back samples.

The Sanctuary’s basilicas

Immediately after the Apparitions of Lourdes, several buildings were constructed in the Sanctuary area, including 3 basilicas, places of celebration and highlights of the religious experience.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception3, also known as the Upper Basilica, is the oldest in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Consecrated in 1876, it houses a series of stained glass windows related to the events of Lourdes but also to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Fifty-one metres long and twenty-one metres wide, it includes a crypt and several chapels, each dedicated to a different saint such as St. Peter, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, St. Francis of Assisi or St. Germaine de Pibrac.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary4 is built in Roman-Byzantine style with Venetian mosaics and covers an area of 2,000 square metres. It was designed as a pedestal and prelude to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which is located above the Grotto.

Finally, the Basilica San Pio X5, consecrated in 1958 on the occasion of the centenary of the Apparitions, has the shape of the hull of an upside-down boat and can accommodate up to 25,000 people. The design of its one-piece vault and its pillars at the ends was made possible by the technique of pre-stressed reinforced concrete, usually used for the construction of bridges. This underground basilica with its atypical architecture hosts the daily Eucharistic procession and is decorated with 39 canvases representing various saints and blessed.

Lourdes Pools

61 Rte de la Forêt, 65100 Lourdes, France (Website)

During the famous apparition, the Virgin Mary gave the young Bernadette precise instructions: “Come and drink at the fountain and wash yourself there”. Since then, millions of pilgrims have come to Lourdes to drink the water from the spring and to bathe in its pools.

The miraculous water of Lourdes is in fact used to fill large marble pools: it is in this 12°C water that pilgrims immerse themselves. You must come during opening hours and wait on the benches set up in front of the entrances with heavy stone doors: you will be welcomed by an army of volunteers from the Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes.

There is no need to bring your slippers, swimming costume or towel: everything will be provided for you on site, completely free of charge (free of charge). When your turn comes, a volunteer will accompany you to your bath. In this small individual room enclosed by curtains, with bare furnishings, a simple linen dress worn, surrounded by two volunteers, you will be given time for prayer and meditation. You will then walk towards the pool and with the help of the volunteers, quickly immerse yourself in the Lourdes water.

In winter or during a medical emergency, full immersion is not possible. The baths are replaced by the gesture of ablution with holy water: a ceremony that goes back to the origins.

Sainte-Bernadette House

72 Rue Bernadette Soubirous, 65100 Lourdes, France (Website)

Bernadette’s paternal home known as Moulin Lacadé was the home of Bernadette’s parents after the apparitions.

Inside you can admire furniture, objects and photos that belonged to the Soubirous family. It is still owned today by Bernadette’s descendants.

Fortress of Lourdes

8Château fort de Lourdes, 65100 Lourdes, France

In the heart of the town of Lourdes is a medieval fortress, built in Roman times and besieged several times throughout history. Situated on a rocky promontory in the old town, this large stone castle, with defensive architecture over 1,000 years old, houses a museum of Pyrenean art and popular traditions.

From up there, there is a panoramic view of the entire village, the Sanctuary and the surrounding mountains. The fortress is a military construction that served as a defence and refuge for the population. With its donjon, drawbridge and loopholes, it has fulfilled various functions throughout history: from stately residence to military fortress and later prison.

Les Halles

911 Pl. du Champ Commun, 65100 Lourdes, France

With its extraordinary late 19th-century architecture, the covered market of Lourdes showcases all the specialities of the Pyrenees: you will be enchanted by the scents and colours of the stalls and you can dive into the heart of local gastronomy.

Open every day from 07.00 to 13.00, the market invites you to discover all the delights of the region: from Pyrenean trout and its unsuspected variations to Barèges lamb, from the unmissable duck or Bigorre black pork to the Tomme des Pyrénées, to the fabulous Pyrenean cakes, paired with local wines such as Madiran or Jurançon.

Best day trips from Lourdes

Although Lourdes is best known for its spiritual and religious significance, it is also the gateway to the Pyrenees mountain range and is set in a beautiful natural environment.

Pic du Jer

The Pic du Jer is the most enchanting view of the Pyrenees in Lourdes. In the immediate vicinity of the city centre, this vantage point offers an exceptional 360° view of the Pyrenean peaks, the towns of Lourdes and Tarbes, the Sanctuary, the lake and the Gaves valley.

Accessible to all, a 10-minute ride on a century-old funicular railway will take you to the summit from which you can observe the town from 948 metres above sea level. Once at the top, a path will lead you to the observatory where you can admire a magnificent view of the Pyrenees, explore the underground caves, take walks along botanical trails, go on nature hikes or engage in outdoor activities such as mountain biking.

Glacial lake of Lourdes

11Lac de Lourdes, 65100 Lourdes, France

Just 3 km from the city centre, in the direction of Pau, is the glacial lake of Lourdes, a wonderful place for relaxation and outdoor activities.

This 50-hectare natural jewel can be explored by taking a 6-km-long tour around the lake: it offers a splendid view of the Pyrenees and is an unmissable excursion on foot or by bicycle. In addition, the lake allows canoeing, stand-up paddling and fishing.

To the west of Lourdes Lake is also the peat bog, a site classified as a Natura 2000 area since 2006. This seemingly hostile place is home to a very special fauna and flora: here lives the Fadet des laiches, one of Europe’s endangered butterflies, and the Drosera, a small carnivorous plant rare in France.

The Pyrenean Wildlife Park

1260Bis Av. des Pyrénées, 65400 Ayzac-Ost, France (Website)

In Argelès-Gazost, a few kilometres south of the town of Lourdes, there is a large wildlife park with around 600 species of animals. Birds, birds of prey, lynxes, otters, ibexes and marmots await you in this fourteen-hectare estate created in 1999 and capable of fascinating young and old alike.

Caves of Bétharram

13Chemin Leon Ross, 65270 Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre, France (Website)

A few kilometres west of Lourdes, these marvellous caves mark the border between the Atlantic Pyrenees and the High Pyrenees.

During a 1.20-hour guided tour, you will cross a mountain that has been carved out by water over the centuries. An enchanted underground world awaits you, a veritable fairyland, with limestone concretions in surprising shapes, enhanced by carefully designed lighting. The richness of the shapes stimulates the imagination throughout the visit. There are no less than three floors of galleries, carved into the limestone rock by the river.

After visiting the first floor of the caves, you will descend 250 steps to the underground river, where you will embark on a fabulous boat trip with 800 metres of rock above you. Finally, you will return to the exit via a small train.

Pic du Midi

The Pic du Midi de Bigorre is one of the most majestic peaks of the High Pyrenees at 2,877 metres above sea level.

To reach the summit, simply let yourself be transported on a splendid cable car ascent, accessible all year round from the Domaine du Tourmalet ski resort. You will experience the thrill of covering 1,000 m of altitude difference in just 15 minutes.

Once at the top you will be enchanted by the purity and transparency of the light and air, the secret of this site, long reserved only for scientists. The panoramic terraces cover an area of more than 750 square metres and your gaze will stretch 300 km along the Pyrenean chain, stretching between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and over the plains of the Great Southwest.

The magic of the place also continues at night. Throughout the year, during night-time events, the Pic du Midi is open for Starry Nights, with an entertainment programme on the theme of astronomy. Even more exciting are the Nights at the summit: by reservation you can sleep on this emblematic peak and share unforgettable moments under the stars.

Gavarnie Circus

15Cirque de Gavarnie, 65120 Gavarnie-Gèdre, France

The Cirque de Gavarnie is an immense limestone amphitheatre of spectacular dimensions: it is a 1500-metre-high vertical wall of rock, with a circumference of 6.5 km. In the centre flows the Grande Cascade, a source of the Gave de Pau, 423 metres high, one of the highest waterfalls in Europe.

The fame of this natural spectacle has been built up through the various explorations by botanists, scientists, poets, mountaineers in search of amazing feats or extreme sensations that have made Gavarnie the cradle of Pyreneism since the 16th century.

Gavarnie can be reached by an easy walk of 1 hour and 30 minutes, ending up at the foot of the circus where the old hotel is located. The walk can be done on foot or on horseback. Less well known but equally impressive are the Estaube and Troumouse circuses , within everyone’s reach.

Pont d'Espagne

16Pont d'Espagne, Puntas, 65110 Cauterets, France (Website)

A few kilometres from Lourdes is the Pont d’Espagne site in the heart of the Pyrenees National Park. A starting point for a refreshing hike, Pont d’Espagne offers access to the unspoilt and preserved nature of the Pyrenees. The green, dense forests compete with bubbling torrents and imposing waterfalls, sparkling lakes and majestic peaks that bewilder every hiker.

The waterfall trail is particularly recommended for admiring splendid views and is accessible to all. Going up the valley above Cauterets, towards Pont d’Espagne, follow the Gave de Cauterets. Arriving at La Raillère , a recognised spa centre, a stop is highly recommended to contemplate the Lutour waterfall: its waters come from Lake Estom, in the magnificent La Fruitière valley. Returning towards Pont d’Espagne, the road that climbs along the Gave du Marcadau will offer you exceptional views of other waterfalls such as those of Cerisey or Bousses. After a few minutes you arrive at the Pont d’Espagne car park, the terminus of your mountain itinerary.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Where to stay in Lourdes

A place of great spirituality, Lourdes is the starting point of choice for many pilgrims wishing to undertake the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago: its accessibility by train, plane or bus and its numerous accommodation facilities make it very popular.

Lourdes has different types of accommodation: from small hotels to B&Bs, as well as self-catering residences. Every visitor and pilgrim will easily find the accommodation that suits their needs.

If the purpose of your trip is a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary, then accommodation near the large religious area will be more congenial to you. The district to the south of the Sanctuary, bordered to the north and east by the Gave du Pau, is perfect for staying in Lourdes: there are many hotels here. The location is perfect, very close to the religious monuments, as well as the Museum of the Miracles of Lourdes, the best place to make the most of a visit to Lourdes. You will certainly be amazed by the religious and picturesque effervescence of this district. Besides being not far from the Sanctuary, you will also be close to all the historical buildings of the city, such as the Château fort de Lourdes and the Pic du Jer funicular.

To the east of the Gave du Pau and the Sanctuary, the rest of the city centre winds around the Château Fort, up to the railway station. This is a beautiful and charming area in which to sleep in Lourdes: the location is excellent for visiting all the historical, cultural and religious monuments and buildings of the city. The greatest concentration of hotels is from the end of Avenue du Paradis, near the river, to the Gare de Lourdes.

In contrast, the area south of the city centre, along Avenue du Paradis and up to the Esplanade du Paradis, is a charming place to sleep in Lourdes. Closer to the river, this neighbourhood has several charming green spaces for strolling and relaxing. It will be easy for you to walk to the Sanctuary and other activities in the city centre.

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How to get to Lourdes

Despite its peripheral location, close to the Pyrenees, Lourdes is easily accessible by all means. As a worldwide pilgrimage destination, the town has frequent and regular connections.

By plane

Lourdes is connected by direct flights from Rome and Milan . The Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport is 10 km away, only 10 minutes from the city centre. Once you land, you can hop on comfortable TLP Mobilités shuttles that will take you to the Lourdes SNCF station.

Alternatively, you can consider landing at Toulouse Airport, only 175 km away, or at Bordeaux Airport, 250 km away.

By train

The city of Lourdes can also be reached by train, including a TGV connection and a night train from Paris. It is also served by regional and inter-regional connections with major French cities.

By bus

Some companies offer connections to Lourdes by bus. For example, Ouibus provides departures from 52 cities including Paris CDG and Orly airport, Toulouse, Grenoble, Lyon, Nantes, Rennes, Béziers, Brussels, Amsterdam, London, Barcelona, San Sebastian.

Flixbus also provides connections from Paris, Bordeaux, Pau, Tarbes, Orléans and Tours.

Lourdes Weather

What's the weather at Lourdes? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Lourdes for the next few days.

Saturday 2
12°
Sunday 3
Monday 4
-0°
Tuesday 5
Wednesday 6
12°
Thursday 7
12°

Where is located Lourdes

At the foot of the Pyrenees, Lourdes is a small town in the south-west of France, famous as a religious pilgrimage destination.

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Lourdes Airport

Lourdes Airport

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Flights to Lourdes

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