24h in Lourdes: discover the sacred city at the foot of the Pyrenees

Lourdes
24h in Lourdes: disco ...
In the four corners of the planet are mystical places that exude an intense spirituality . On the Gave de Pau, at the foot of the Pyrenees , Lourdes is a center of Christian pilgrimage famous throughout the world. It is the fourth Catholic holy place after the Vatican , the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City and the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil. As a result, the city attracts 6 million visitors a year : a large number have faith and go to this holy place to obtain divine favor, atone for their faults, or strengthen their spirituality. Other tourists, non-believers, visit Lourdes to share this emotion and out of simple curiosity for the heritage . Anyway, Lourdes leaves no visitor indifferent.

Visit of Lourdes

A town with an extraordinary destiny

At the start of the 1850s, Lourdes was a modest capital of a canton with 4,135 inhabitants. The city was then only a stopover for curists attracted by the thermal waters of Barèges , Cauteret , Luz-Saint-Sauveur and Bagnères-de Bigorre . Her destiny was turned upside down from February 11, 1858 when the young shepherdess Bernadette Soubirous , then aged 14, saw a “ lady dressed in white ” appear eighteen times in the cave of Massabielle . After asking her her name several times, the woman finally replied to Bernadette on March 25, in Occitan, “Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou : I am the Immaculate Conception. Illiterate, Bernadette repeats this sentence that she does not understand when she goes to the priest Peyramale who quickly realizes that these appearances are none other than those of the Virgin Mary . Four years later, the apparitions are recognized by the clergy and Rome accepts the miracle . The sites of these demonstrations become places of worship and crowds of believers from all over the world throng on pilgrimage to this small village in the Hautes-Pyrénées. Since then, spectacular healings have been recorded and the sick are welcomed there every year. Whether you are a believer or not, the religious fervor that reigns here and the monuments erected to the glory of the Virgin Mary amaze pilgrims as much as the simple curious passing through Lourdes.


Visit of Lourdes

Visit of Lourdes

A city that grows with religious tourism

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The sanctuaries of Lourdes

Visit of Lourdes Visit of Lourdes

Visiting places of worship is an essential part of a trip to soak up the culture , meet the faithful and discuss with them to better understand religions. We choose to visit Lourdes on a Sunday , an important day in the spiritual life of Catholics and all the more so in Lourdes where nine masses are held in the various basilicas, chapels and caves. When arriving in Lourdes, religious fervor is perceptible everywhere in the streets. While crossing the city to reach the shrines, we meet families, groups of friends, pilgrims and volunteers from all over the world who walk in a friendly, warm and fraternal atmosphere. Whatever your religious denomination, visitors' excitement is felt keenly when crossing the Boulevard Rémi Sempé bridge which leads to the Porte Saint-Michel at the entrance to the Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes complex includes five distinct locations

The Basilica of Saint Pius X is located to the left of the esplanade which leads to the other two buildings. Inaugurated in 1958, this modern reinforced concrete structure is entirely built underground and can hold 2,500 worshipers.

Visit of Lourdes

Visit of Lourdes Visit of Lourdes


Visit of Lourdes

Visit of Lourdes

Basilica of Our Lady Rosary


Before our eyes stands the imposing Notre Dame Rosaire basilica in Romano-Byzantine style. Consecrated in 1901, the basilica opens onto a large square that can attract more than 80,000 visitors. Arcades frame three semi-circular chapels carved into the rock. One is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the second is dedicated to Saint Bernadette, decorated with a large mosaic on a golden background. Finally, the third is dedicated to Saint Pascal Baylon, a Franciscan named Patron Saint of Eucharistic works because he spent hours praying in ecstasy before the Blessed Sacrament.


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Visit of LourdesVisit of Lourdes


Further on, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception dominates the entire sanctuary of Lourdes. Consecrated in 1876, it was built on the very site of the apparitions: at the top of the rock of Massabielle and above the crypt where the relics of Bernadette Soubirous are located and whose walls are covered with ex votos.

Visit of Lourdes Visit of Lourdes

In addition to the three basilicas , pilgrims come to Lourdes to bathe in the sacred pools with the hope of being healed thanks to the miraculous spring water. Built in 1882, they are located further to the right of the source. Pilgrims hurry to collect this holy water from taps with all types of containers. Finally, the place of the miracle, the cave where Bernadette Soubirous saw the virgin appear to her, is the final destination of the pilgrimage. Perched in the cave, the statue of the Virgin dominates the esplanade where hundreds of believers meet for Sunday mass . An unforgettable moment of peace and prayer where religious devotion is at its peak. Every day, ceremonies, prayers, processions, stations of the cross, vigils animate the sanctuary.

Leaving the sanctuary, we stroll around and in the city. There we find other religious buildings to admire ( the Sainte-Bernadette church for example), a multitude of souvenir shops as well as hotels with majestic architecture , such as the Grand Hotel Moderne built in 1896, which attracts our attention. by the elegance of its facades. Second hotel city in France behind Paris, Lourdes has indeed an impressive hotel portfolio : more than 140 hotels, 12,000 rooms and 20,000 beds!


Visit of Lourdes


Visit of Lourdes Visit of Lourdes

The Fortified Castle and the Pyrenean Museum

With more than a thousand years of history, the fortified castle dominates the city of Lourdes perched on a rocky peak. This unmissable building offers a sumptuous panoramic view of the religious Sanctuary and the Pyrenean chain. Its visit has some wonderful surprises in store for visitors, a real journey through time that invites you to discover the defensive architecture of preserved medieval fortifications as well as the Pyrenean Museum which traces life in the French Pyrenees in the 19th and early 20th centuries. relaxation and relaxation, a stroll in the botanical garden is essential!

The Pic du Jer funicular


Visit of Lourdes

Visit of LourdesVisit of Lourdes


Visit of Lourdes

Visit of Lourdes Visit of Lourdes


Here is another unmissable visit to Lourdes that appeals to young and old! Take to the heights by going to the Pic de Jer (951 m above sea level) by the historic funicular dating from 1900, located at the southern end of the city. From the summit dominated by a cross, admire the entire Ossau valley and a 360-degree panorama of Lourdes and the mountains. Popular with all-terrain cyclists, this funicular covers a distance of 1.1 km in 15 minutes, with a drop of 480 m. The ideal is to go up with the funicular and go down on foot if you like hiking (about an hour's walk). At the top, the landscapes are magnificent. The restaurant " le Haut de Lourdes " allows you to eat while contemplating the breathtaking view! Once there, we walked to the observatory to take in a unique view of the city. Accompanied by a guide, we explored the underground gallery of the limestone caves of Pic du Jer, 360 meters long and punctuated by chasms and faults , testifying to the formation of the Pyrenees. A perfect visit to find a little freshness!


Visit of LourdesVisit of Lourdes



Visit of Lourdes

Visit of Lourdes Visit of Lourdes


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Lourdes lake

Only 3 km from the city center towards Pau, the glacial lake of Lourdes stretches for 6 kilometers and offers walkers the spectacle of unspoiled nature in the heart of 50 hectares of greenery. For the more motivated, do not hesitate to embark on a tour of the lake on foot or by mountain bike … well equipped, this ride promises you great discoveries and a great breath of fresh air. Swimming is permitted there and water sports such as stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing are offered to the public. On these environmentally friendly boats, it is possible to cross the lake and observe the peat bog of Lake Lourdes (site classified Natura 2000).


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Photos and Article written by Lesley Williamson for the Guide de Toulouse Pyrénées


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