Lourdes

Lourdes

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About Lourdes

Place of intense religious significance and tradition

Located along the banks of the river, Lourdes is known the world over as a place of intense religious significance to Christians. Not only is Lourdes one of the most visited destinations of religious pilgrimage in Christianity, it is also the perfect opportunity to step away from the hectic buzz of modern France and into a traditional French village. A highly popular spot is the indoor market, selling a marvellous selection of locally grown fruit and vegetables, all lovingly included in the delicious, characterful meals served in the local bistros.

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Lourdes seems to possess something of a split personality, divided between the spiritual area on the banks of the river and the original peaceful market town. Most hotels are clustered around the centres of pilgrimage, including luxurious five-star offering Grand Hôtel De La Grotte (66 rue Grotte), which is found right by the famous Grotto of Lourdes. There is plenty of choice in the mid-range, such as Villa Mariale (15-17 avenue du Paradis), which boasts its own fitness suite and sauna to go along with views of the Gave River, while free visits to the Notre Dame sanctuary are on offer at the Hôtel Panorama (11-13 rue Saint Marie). There is also a good supply of self-catering apartments for those on a tighter budget, with Résidence Bellevue Sanctuaire Must Appart (60 rue de la Grotte) rating among the top choices.

Souvenir shops perhaps unsurprisingly dominate the shopping scene in Lourdes, the largest of which, Palais du Rosaire (83 boulevard de la Grotte), is equipped with masses of religious memorabilia. Elsewhere the covered market at the Place du Champ Commun is full of more traditional produce, while the Monoprix supermarket (9 place du Champ Commun) should be sought out by those staying in self-catering accommodation. Book Shop (13 rue du Bourg) meanwhile boasts a large collection of Lourdes-related titles for those in the market for a little local education.

There is a decent selection of charming local bistros to be uncovered in Lourdes beneath the underwhelming tourist canteens. Tiny yet bursting with character is Le Luma (23 avenue du Général Leclerc), which comes highly rated, although this often means it’s difficult to get a table. If you can’t get in then try Restaurant le Magret (10 rue des Quatre Frères Soulas), where the menu includes inventive duck, cheese and pork dishes. Meanwhile Le Soleil (8 rue des Quatre Frères Soulas) is a North African restaurant that is great for vegetarians, offering wonderful couscous-based dishes.

Festival de Musique de Lourdes

March-April

This music festival draws an international gathering of classical musicians to Lourdes each spring, with the 2013 edition focusing on the works of renowned Baroque composers such as Bach, Handel and Scarlatti.

Festives Artisanales de Lourdes

July

There are a series of talks and workshops to get involved with at this artisan festival, in addition to a selection of food stalls and bric-a-brac sale.

Lourdes Tuning Show

September

Tydos Covered Market plays host to this new festival that is geared towards auto enthusiasts of all ages. Check out the antique cars, old engines and fringe activities over the course of the day-long event.

L’Atelier Imaginaire

October

This vibrant festival stretches over ten days and features theatre, concerts and exhibitions. The Max-Pol Fouchet poetry prize and prestigious Prométhée short story prize is the main focus of attention at the event, which concludes with a magical programme of live entertainment, the ‘Journées magiques’.

Fêtes de Noël

November-December

A series of performances, street art, walks and family film screenings are among the entertainment as Lourdes prepares itself for the festive season. Place Peyramale’s ice rink is the main draw of the Christmas celebrations.

Useful Information

Key facts

Language:French
Currency:Euro
Time zone:GMT +1 hour
Flight time:1 hour 30 mins
Airport code:LDE
Holiday type:City Break / Sightseeing

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