Situated at the foothills with the Pyrenees in south-western France, the location of Lourdes now hosts around 5 million Roman Catholic pilgrims annually and is the spot of various alleged miraculous healings.Local teenager Bernadette Soubirous witnessed the apparition in the Virgin Mary 18 times, using the first appearance inside the Grotto in 1858.
Since then, Bernadette has become recognized as a saint and Lourdes has transformed coming from a sleepy market town in the largest Marian pilgrimage destination inside world.Lourdes is made up of two parts: the French section centered around the Marketplace and Hotel de Ville, along with the international area referred to as Domaine, comprising the Grotto and Churches.Getting To and Around LourdesTo reach Lourdes by plane, fly into Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport from London-Stansted, Milan, Paris-Orly, Lyon, Brussels or Rome. Another option would be to have a flight to Pau Pyrénées Airport which offers flights from London, Dublin and Amsterdam, and is located just 40 minutes drive away from Lourdes with train connections made available.If you are prepared to drive for 9 hours around the winding mountain roads from Paris, take the A64 via Toulouse.
Unless you are driving to Lourdes in the southwest of France or Spain, utilizing the train is in no way an easier option, especially because after you arrive the narrow streets are often quite congested.The section in the heart of town offers services for the TGV very fast rail, which is a six hour journey from Paris. Regional services linking Lourdes to Pau, Toulouse and Bayonne/Biarritz also run regularly.
There are also bus services running regularly from regional centers throughout France and Spain, however most of these are charters for pilgrim groups.The town of Lourdes itself is very easy to discover on foot, with several streets available to pedestrians only. Because the town is really pedestrian friendly, many in the streets give one-way only vehicle traffic, that make driving through town complicated.
There are plenty of parking spaces entirely on town's outskirts, in fact it is much simpler to park and walk from there.Things To See and Do in LourdesPilgrims and non-pilgrims alike will quickly realize the religious sites in Lourdes fascinating. Visit the Grotto where Saint Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary. There are many Bernadette attractions throughout town as well, including a museum and her former home. Masses are available in many different languages. Visit the Basilica of Saint Pius X, a church constructed entirely underground.Also visit Château fort de Lourdes, which extends back to Roman times. Or get out of town and take in the scenery from the Pyrenees over an excursion or hike.