Well known as a pilgrimage destination in itself, Lourdes, at the foot of the Pyrenees in Southern France, is also a stopping point along the Camino de Santiago route known as the Arles Camino or Chemin d’Arles in French. Here are 5 must-sees you shouldn’t miss in this unique and sacred French town:
The first port of call when in Lourdes has to be its world-famous sanctuary. This includes must-see sites such as the Basilica of Notre Dame (Our Lady), the Basilica of Immaculate Conception, the Grotto and the baths but did you know there is also an Underground Basilica, the Basilica Saint Pius X?
Torchlight evening procession
Each evening at 9pm from April to October, thousands of pilgrims gather at the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes holding candles for an impressive daily procession of light from the Grotto des Apparritions to the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Medieval Castle Fortress
Listed as a ‘Monument Historique’, Lourdes’ medieval castle-fortress Chateu Fort offers magnificent panoramic views of the town. It is home to the Pyrenean Museum as well as a botanical garden at the foot of the 14th century keep.
Pic du Jer
To take panoramic views a notch up, take the 100-year old Pic du Jer funicular cable car, taking passengers up 1000 metres in just a few minutes. A short walking trail takes you to the observatory where you will enjoy stunning 360 vistas Lourdes as well as the valleys and mountains around.
Marché Halles – Halles Food Market
The Marché Halles indoor market, dating back to the 19th century, is where you will find the widest array of local delicacies to get your tastebuds going as soon as you get in the door. You are in France, so cheeses come in all shapes and sizes, the hardest part will be which one to choose! Two for the must-try list are: ‘Pyrénées’ and ‘le Barousse’. As well as sampling local cheeses, cured meats, fruit, wines and other regional produce, you can’t leave town without having tried the traditional ‘gateau à la broche’, cooked on an open fire.
Picnic by the lake
After stocking in a few tasty regional supplies at the Halles food market, head to Lourdes lake beach to watch the world go by and enjoy a relaxed picnic by the lake.
*Images courtesy of Lourdes Infotourisme.