Things To Do In Lourdes
Lourdes is an extensive town that is located 43 km from the southeast of Pau and within the confines of the Midi-Pyrenees district. It is one of the world's most essential sacred destinations for the Catholic faith. It is recognized and acknowledged as a miraculous site by the Catholic church since 1858. It is on this quaint city in France where the Blessed Virgin Mary made an apparition to Bernadette Sobirous (1844-1879).
The 14 year old mystic had the rare chance of seeing the Immaculate Conception more than 18 times (from February 11- July 16 1858) on the historic rocky grotto (Massabielle Cave). The apparitions were proven to be valid and with the blessings of the Vatican, Bernadette was eventually canonized and officially declared a saint in 1933.
Presently known as the Sanctuaires Notre Dame de Lourdes, the sacred cave is viewed as one of the holiest destinations in Christendom. Based on its tourism board statistics, it has a total of six million tourist arrivals or pilgrims who visit the Lourdes yearly, hoping and praying for miracles and a chance to be doused by its miraculous and healing waters that flows endlessly from the Spring of the Lourdes Grotto in France.
When To Go:
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Keep in mind that May is the rainiest month and when travel to Lourdes is not fully encouraged. December is the point at which it’s the coldest, however January is not that awful and really the driest month. The summers are gentle and charming. As far as occasions, the town's level of availability is managed by the events related to the Lourdes Sanctuary. By and large, from April to October are the top months; to such an extent, that a few inns close in the "off" season. The months May, June, July, August and September have a decent normal temperature. Summer season is the hottest months which occur from July until August but it is still tolerable, just bring enough drinking water and a hat with you.
These are the popular things to do in the city of Lourdes…
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes (Sanctuaires Notre Dame de Lourdes)
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes or the Sanctuaires Notre Dame de Lourdes is unique in every sense and where it is absolutely necessary for every catholic to come at least once in their lifetime. The magnificent shrine, built over the grotto of the apparitions rises into the sky and embraces the visitor with its external staircases; the aforementioned cave is a place where you can understand the absolute spirituality of what happened over 150 years ago and continues up to this day. The Sanctuary is a true Marian heart pulsing with immense sacredness and where pilgrims from around the world gather with great faith. It is here where most devotees rediscover the value of life, where they long to hope, find answer to their questions and pray for miracles or relief from their suffering.
Do not miss the evening procession with candles (with torches for the sick), it is the highlight of the tribute to Madonna, very engaging and exciting. Here in Lourdes, time is a dimension that becomes dense and slowed despite the many things to do and to attend. Of great emotional impact, are the order in which how the people go from the grotto to the pools, the holy stairs which is on the road of the Cross but is hardly ever noticed and where most pilgrims climb on their knees or barefoot and in first possibility seems hard but truly achievable. One thing to note is that hits all the silence that prevails starting from the gate of the shrine. Try also to visit the Carmelite convent placed across the river and you'll have a sweet surprise.
Chateau Fort of Lourdes
The Chateau Fort of Lourdes is a very interesting attraction that must not be missed in Lourdes. No more than ten minutes of relaxing walk from the Sanctuary of Lourdes separate you from the entrance of this impressive medieval building that was once the base of the defense of the city. A modest sum of € 6 will allow you to get on the elevator (for the brave there are stairs) and find yourself in front of an impressive landscape of the surrounding area. You can see very well the sanctuary and the parish church with the rest of the city.
There is an ancient and beautiful chapel, the museum of the Pyrenees, very wide and varied, a colorful botanical garden, miniatures of various types of old houses surrounding the regions, the ability to access the high tower of the fortress, and a cute gift shop. There is so much to see and gain knowledge about the history and traditions of the Pyrenees along with admiring the beauty and care of the landscape and castle. At the center of Lourdes, on a rocky outcrop is this magnificent historic beauty. The route is divided into visiting homes, trenches, towers, courtyards, a magnificent garden with many plant species, a chapel and parts with museum exhibitions. Everything here is beautiful and like stepping into a history book, plus, it is also because this place exists for more than a thousand years and has experienced many transformations. Of course the view of Lourdes is gorgeous and not to be missed.
Pic du Jer
Pic du Jer is a must for those who come to Lourdes. This hill can be reached by an ancient funicular railway that comes close to the summit. From here, an easy walk of a few minutes leads to the summit where you can enjoy the 360° view over the city of Lourdes. From the high peaks and glaciers of the Pyrenees to the vastness of hills and plains to the east, from the valley of the Gave de Pau to Lourdes, everything is wonderful. The breathtaking view rediscovers the immensity of the places that only the eyes of the spectator can capture.
If you want to enjoy the nature while you are visiting the Sanctuary of Lourdes, do not miss this wonderful experience on the Pic du Jer. To get to the top you must take the scenic cable car of 1900 which is accessible from the area of the sanctuary by bus. For €12 you will arrive with the funicular through a journey of about 10 minutes and you will come to breathtaking scenery of the surrounding area. If you like to make an easy trek uphill to no more than ten minutes, you can reach the 1000 meters of the Pic du Jer where you will find a large cross and a panoramic view of the city. The route has rest areas that are natural and interesting with illustrated explanations on various types of flowers and plants found there. If the weather will assist you and there are no clouds at the top, a magnificent natural show is guaranteed!
Casa Natal Bernadette (Le Moulin de Boly)
The Casa Natal Bernadette is a place in which to discover the simplicity and poverty of that time. It is full of life and the reality in which once lived the girl named Bernadette, where everything was made up of small spaces and a few simple furnishings. It is definitely a place that exudes all the difficulties of life during that period, but also the place where Bernadette lives with happiness the first years of her life with the love of her simple family. It is a tourist site that is nice to visit for its meaning. The house is very well kept, and shows a bit too much to account for the real life of Bernadette and her family. The real images show a house-mill that was dilapidated and miserable: I doubt that there were beds neat as we see them. However, the reconstruction museum is pleasant and the fact that it was really inhabited by little saint tells us a bit of his spirituality
Otherwise known as the Boly Mill or the Le Moulin de Boly, the house illustrates the period from birth to the next negative period of Bernadette, due to the loss of his father's work and the misery of the whole family. It was here where the father François had his activities as a miller downstairs where there are also other rooms. Above, the rest of the house is well renovated and furnished with period furniture and accessories to well understand how people lived in the early times. All the photographic illustrations of the building and the Soubirous’ family are located in an adjacent building. All the preserved artifacts are very well looked after and exhaustive for the purpose it is proposed, and that is to understand how Bernadette has come to be the saint and who she is now, especially if the visit is combined with that of Le Cachot, the family’s next place of residence after her father’s unemployment.
L'Eglise Paroissiale du Sacre-Coeur
The present L'Eglise Paroissiale du Sacre-Coeur was built between July 28, 1875 and September 8, 1903. It houses the baptismal font of Saint Bernadette. In the crypt is the tomb of Abbot Peyramale, the parish priest of Lourdes at the time of the apparitions. Under the bell tower, one can admire a statue of Bernadette Soubirous.
The parish church was built to replace the old church of Saint -Pierre which was located near the market square (now called the Place Peyramale); Bernadette attended and hears mass on this church diligently. It was destroyed by fire in 1904 and is has successfully been rehabilitated to serve as one of the sacred churches in Lourdes.
Le Petit Lourdes
The Le Petit Lourdes is like a journey through time and the life of the saint in miniature. The magnificent miniature is a reproduction of Lourdes at the time of the apparitions. The visit follows a historic route and time of Bernadette's life, with the help of an audio guide that is very useful and informative. The path winds through the alleys, where the meticulous work of Mr. Simonin reproduced in miniature and in detail the buildings of Lourdes in the mid-800. It is very engaging and interesting and serves as a further testimony of this holy city. Beautiful and not to be missed!
Musee de Cire de Lourdes
The Musee de Cire de Lourdes is a wax museum that is really engaging and interesting. The characters are made of a striking realism and the tour winds through a five-story with audio guide. There are proposed faithful scenes from the life of Christ, Saint Bernadette and scenes of Saint Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, explained and told in a simple way accompanied by sound effects and the special audio guide.
At the end of the course is a magnificent panoramic terrace with a view of the range that is close to the Sanctuary with a splendid view of the city of Lourdes and the Basilica. Very realistic, do not miss it when you’re in Lourdes. The wax museum of Lourdes is definitely worth a visit. It is presented in all languages and therefore you will not have trouble following the recorded voice. The quality of work is excellent, the main part concerns the life of Christ to the crucifixion (accompanied by well chosen sound effects) and there's just one part dedicated to the late Saint Pope John Paul II.
Voie Verte des Gaves
The Voie Verte des Gaves is a beautiful bike path that is well equipped and secure. It offers the easy way to discover the surroundings of Lourdes and Gave Valley in a green and refreshing setting. There is no way that you’ll get lost around here because there are tourist information signs that are well placed and designed, and especially points next on where to stop to eat and drink . You can find some villages of the High Pyrenees (Lourdes is one of the densely populated cities in France) that deserves a detour and a visit to the riverbanks of the Gave Valley.
Les Halles de Lourdes
The Les Halles Lourdes is a shopping complex that is very striking and conveniently located in the center of Lourdes. You can find this shopping area that was built on a stunning metallic structure and houses a wide sample of local produce. Weekends are the most appropriate time to visit.
It is a place for enjoyment of gourmets because it is here where you can find the best wines (red and white), cheeses, fine meats, fruits, jams, honey, sweets, and anything you need that would make the list endless. It is a must for lovers of good food and unique landscape.
Musee de la Medaille Miraculeuse
The story of the Miraculous Medal is detailed and explained here (in several languages) at the Musee de la Medaille Miraculeuse complete with video projection and scenes that also cover the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in Rue du Bac, Paris. It also shows the story behind the manufacturing of the first miraculous medals.
It offers an interesting and informative tour where you will learn a lot more about the Immaculate Conception and Saint Bernadette. The museum and factory has very polite workers and shows the spectacle of "sound and light". If you see it as an illustrated story of the miraculous medal then it becomes really nice.
Musee du Gemmail
The Musee du Gemmail is a small museum (free) where you will have a chance to see and discover a particular art technique. It also contains representations of famous paintings, among others, and inside the museum you need to watch a taped documentary featured on a local TV show that explain this very meticulous and detailed art works. The beautiful jewelry and original statues you can find along the halls of this museum were made by the artists that hail from the different regions of France. The Musee du Gemmail is beautiful but the museum has not changed for a long time: for example, the projected film is still a VHS tape and the references given there dates back to the year 1990. A little updating of some facilities would be welcome. However, it is still worth a visit especially for the great fans of stone and crystal healing. The museum is located in the busiest street in Lourdes; the Rue de la Grotte. Gemmail is a very special art form and it is nice to see what the artist can do with the glass and colors. Every piece requires a special technique, piece of colored glass paste on each other and a picture there, a natural element, and a lot of abstract art to do with it. For art lovers is truly worth visiting.
Lourdes leaves a feeling like an indelible mark that would justify all the sacrifices in your daily life, even when you are away from the Sanctuary. Everything revolves around this shrine, built directly above the cave of imposing building with golden façade and enriched by many sacred images, surrounded by long staircase which leads to the top from which it is very nice to admire and join the various processions and torchlight. The interior is very interesting addition to the construction and the various paintings. This site is the heart of Lourdes and one of the greatest reasons why a visit to this city is a must.
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