Lourdes, world-famous as a pilgrimage site, is a town with a very rich heritage, which deserves to be explored in all its forms.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has attracted millions of pilgrims from around the world, since the Virgin Mary appeared there in 1958. Since then, a constant stream of visitors, often sick and hoping for a miraculous cure, have flocked to the sanctuary. Three basilicas stand on the site: the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, whose stained glass windows tell the story of the apparitions, the Basilica of our Lady of the Rosary, whose mosaics glorify the mysteries of the rosary, and, lastly, the gigantic Basilica of Saint Pius X, which is built entirely underground.
The site stands on 52 hectares with 22 places of worship, including the famous Grotto of Massabielle, where Bernadette Soubirous, a local 14-year-old girl, saw apparitions of the Virgin. The water from this source is reputed to be a source of healing and mercy for the 6 million pilgrims who visit Lourdes each year, making it the third most visited sanctuary in the world, after the Vatican and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.
On a more historical note, the Tour du Garnavie is a monument to pilgrims who have crossed the Pyrenees since the Middle Ages, The 13th century Château-fort, now a museum, is a perfectly preserved example of the history of the Crusades. A detour via the Halles Baltard, in the town centre, is an opportunity to buy some of the many delicacies the region has to offer: cep mushrooms, foie gras, croustades and berlingots de Cauterets. A feast for the taste buds for people of all religions!
If you don't come on foot for a pilgrimage, Lourdes is served by two airports: Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées airport, 6 miles away, and Pau airport, 28 miles away. Lourdes train station is specially adapted for visitors with health issues, while the A64 motorway is the most direct route by car.