Why is Lourdes Famous?
Lourdes is a historic market town at the foot of the Pyrenees that dates back to prehistoric times.
The town was initially famous for the 11th century Chateau Fort de Lourdes which towers over the town. In 1858 however, all was to change when the town rose to prominence after an apparition appeared to Bernadette Soubirous.
Lourdes is now one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites after only Rome and the Holy Land.
Who is Bernadette Soubirous?
In 1858 a 14 year old girl called Bernadette Soubirous went out to collect firewood. Bernadette was near the Massabielle Grotto when a beautiful female appeared to her as an apparition.
This female appeared to Bernadette 18 times and later identified herself to Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception. She is now more commonly referred to as Our Lady of Lourdes.
During these apparitions she told Bernadette to dig in the ground and a spring appeared. The spring is said to have miraculous healing powers and has been the cure to a variety of illnesses since!
Bernadette died in 1879 but was declared blessed by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and later canonized by him in 1933.
Pilgrimage to Lourdes
Since the apparition, Lourdes has become one of the most important Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites in the entire world.
In 1864 they erected a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and the number of visitors to this spiritual site has been on the rise ever since.
Above and surrounding the grotto is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Owned by the Roman Catholic Church, the area includes accommodation for sick pilgrims, taps which dispense the healing water, offices of the Lourdes Medical Bureau and several churches and basilicas.
Pilgrims head to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in their droves each and every year. More than 200 million people have made the journey to the town since 1860.
This amazing place of mass is a sight to behold and the spring water is believed to have healing powers with many miracles and cures having been reported.
How many miracles have happened in Lourdes?
At the beginning of 2018 the Catholic Church officially recognised the town’s 70th miracle. On the 11th February 2018 Bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonin declared it to be a miracle and subsequently it was announced as such by Bishop Nicolas Brouwet.
The latest miracle involved a French nun who made a surprising recovery from a debilitating back condition.
Sister Bernadette Moriau made a pilgrimage to the spiritual site and on her return made a recovery. The Lourdes medical committee later said the the changes in her condition were unexplainable.
What to do in Lourdes
If you are visiting Lourdes to see the sights or are heading there on a pilgrimage, you’ll find plenty to see and do. We’ve listed our top 5 things to see in Lourdes below.
- 1) Grotte de Massabielle – The Grotte de Massabielle is where Bernadette Soubrious saw the apparition of the Virgin Mary. Peaceful and tranquil, the grotto is a must see when visiting Lourdes.
- 2) The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes – A visit to the town is not complete without a visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. See the magnificent churches and basilicas, enjoy the healing waters or just light a candle outside.
- 3) Chateau Fort de Lourdes – The Chateau is perched high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the town. The climb to the Chateau is steep but very rewarding offering spectacular views of the surrounding areas. The Chateau is also home to the Musée Pyrénéen which boasts an array of regional art and artefacts.
- 4) Moulin de Boly – The Moulin de Boly is the birthplace of Bernadette Soubirous. Formally a watermill the building is now a museum dedicated to telling the story of Bernadette.
- 5) Pic du Jer – The Pic du Jer towers over the town and boasts unbelievable views of Lourdes and the surrounding areas. The best way to reach the top is via the 100 year old funicular railway. You can recognise the Pic du Jer by the large illuminated cross that sits on top.
Where to stay in Lourdes
Tourists and pilgrims head to Lourdes every year and as such there are plenty of different types of accommodation available. From bed and breakfasts and gites to hotels and campsites, there’s something to meet every taste or budget.
Hotels in Lourdes
There are over a hundred hotels in Lourdes to choose from but they do book up quickly. When visiting it’s best to book your hotel as soon as possible. Book your hotel quickly and easily by clicking the button below.
Campsites near Lourdes
Although most people choose hotels for convenience there are some lovely campsites nearby. Our favourite two are the Campsite du Lac and Airotel Pyrenees. Both offer great accommodation and lots of activities.
Campsite du Lac is a lovely small campsite that’s located at Arcizans Avant, just 15 minutes to the south of Lourdes. With camping pitches for your own tent, caravan or motorhome and accommodation available to rent, you’ll have a great time here.
Airotel Pyrenees is just 30 minutes from Lourdes in the town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur. With accommodation available from a variety of companies such as Eurocamp, you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you busy.
Wherever you choose to visit or stay when visiting Lourdes we hope you have a fantastic time.