48 hotels in this place
Lourdes is a large town in the French Pyrenees. It is a global centre of Marian pilgrimage, receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, appeared 18 times at the Grotto to a young girl, St Bernadette Soubirous. Originally a sleepy market town on the road to the spas of the Pyrenees, Lourdes has grown into the largest Marian pilgrimage centre in the world. The town has two sections: the international portion by the river, consisting of the spiritual area containing the Grotto and churches (known as the Domaine or the Sanctuaries), and the "French" portion, centered around the Marketplace & Hotel de Ville. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Lourdes
- The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception - Situated on top of the rock above the Grotto, it was designed by Hippolyte Durand and was constructed between 1866 and 1872.
- The Rosary Basilica - The Basilica was designed by the architect Leopold Hardy and built between 1883 and 1889. It was consecrated in 1901.
- The Grotto of Massabielle - On Thursday 11 February 1858, Bernadette heard a noise that sounded like a gust of wind and she saw a light. She saw a small girl, dressed in white, with a blue belt, a yellow rose on each foot and a rosary beads on her arm: It was the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- The Wax Museum - Discover the life size wax figures. Relive the fascinating story of St. Bernadette’s life and Jesus Christ.
Visit the sacred sites, including the Grotto where St Bernadette saw Mary. Attend mass (dozens on offer in almost every language in the world) somewhere in or around the holy sites. Visit one of the many Bernadette attractions (several museums, her former home, etc.) and best of all: watch the astonishing numbers of pilgrims from all over the world. The Underground Basilica of St. Pius X, a church constructed entirely underground, is especially interesting architecturally.
Especially interesting is the International Mass, held in six languages (English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Dutch) simultaneously in the Underground Basilica of St. Pius X Sunday mornings. Arrive early to get a seat. One wonderful experience is to arrive about 1 1/2 hours early to be part of the choir (open to anyone who arrives early to rehearse). You get to sing with people of all 6 languages and have an excellent view of the Mass.
Don't miss the nightly candlelight procession (buy your candle beforehand from one of the souvenir shops) in front of the Basilica and around the main square, with singing, prayer and a rosary said in many languages (alternating half-decades in English, French, Italian, etc.). The procession of the sick to the Underground Basilica each afternoon is particularly moving, as well. Other religious activities available include confession (available in French, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch), adoration, stations of the cross (in the underground basilica), candle lighting near the Grotto, and rosary in front of the Grotto each afternoon (in French) and at other times/places in other languages.
If you have a car, spend a day in the wonderful Pyrenees. Roadtrips to Pont d'Espagne, Gavarnie or de Col de Tourmalet offer breathtaking mountain scenery and lots of opportunities for hiking. There is a historic chateau on a hill visible from the town, as well.
- Brasserie de la Grotte (rue de la Grotte, in the Hotel de la Grotte). A good brasserie with a pleasant atmosphere, dishes are excellent, but expensive.
- Café au Roi Albert (Near St Joseph's Gate, on the Pont Vieux). Reasonable inexpensive food, concentrating on the standard snacks of pizzas, croques monsieur & madame and sandwiches.
- Little Flower Café (Near St Joseph's Gate, on rue de la Reine Astrid). Reasonable inexpensive food, concentrating on the standard snacks of pizzas, croque monsieur & madame and sandwiches.
- New Orleans Café (Near St Joseph's Gate, on rue Sainte-Marie). Reasonable inexpensive food, concentrating on the standard snacks of pizzas, croques monsieur & madame and sandwiches.
- La Petite Bergère (Bartrès, a 10 min drive from Lourdes). Family-run. Good food from the region.
- Pizza da Marco (rue de la Grotte, at the top of the hill). A standard Italian pizzeria, with good food but erratic service, especially when busy.
- Restaurant Alexandra (rue de Fort, off the Rue de la Grotte). This small family-run restaurant specialises in local delicacies and has an intimate atmosphere.
- Restaurant Au Bon Accueil (Bartrès, a 10 min drive from Lourdes). Family-run and specialise in good food from the local region.
The famous water, of course (free!). Bring your own bottles, or buy one of the thousands containers or jerrycans (or one of the tasteful plastic bottles in the shape of a Mary statuette) available at almost every shop in town.
Lourdes has an enormous number of shops selling all sorts of kitsch and religious souvenirs like statuettes of saints, rosaries, candles, containers for storing the water from the source near the Grotto, mugs and fridge magnets. If items like these are your thing, the large Palais du Rosaire offers an enormous selection and will wrap items for you to take home.
Many shops will close for 1 1/2 – 2 hours around lunch; be prepared to be shooed out of the store or hurried along with your purchases if you are shopping around 12:30pm.
Shops often have flags or signs outside indicating the languages (besides the obvious French, usually English, Spanish, and Italian, although sometimes German and Dutch) spoken there.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Lourdes on Wikivoyage.