Print Posted By Lost in France on 11 Mar 2010 in French Regions - Midi Pyrenees

Great sites of Midi-Pyrénées - Lourdes

A small town with 15,000 inhabitants at the foot of the Pyrenees, Lourdes is one of the world's greatest spiritual centres. This is where, in the Massabielle cave on the banks of the Gave (name given to the Pyrenean torrents), the Virgin Mary appeared before Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, changing the destiny of Lourdes forever.

The Sanctuaries are arranged around an immense esplanade. Here, you will discover the crypt dug against the grotto (the original sanctuary), the higher basilica (1866), the Rosaire basilica with 15 chapels adorned with Venetian mosaics (1883- 1889), the Saint-Pie-X (1958) underground basilica and lastly Sainte Bernadette Church (1988) and the Notre Dame reception room which was inaugurated in 1997.

Six million visitors of all nationalities and religions come to the Marian city every year, with over 100,000 volunteers coming to help the sick and people in difficulty. Its cosmopolitan atmosphere and climate of fraternity, rich with shared emotions, contribute to the strength of Lourdes and its message. A universal message founded on three symbolic elements: purifying water, rock and light.

Discover Lourdes in the footsteps of Bernadette

Right in the heart of Lourdes, a signposted discovery trail leads visitors along the footsteps of Bernadette Soubirous, who witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The path passes by the Boly mill where she was born in 1844, which has recently been renovated and refurbished in keeping with its original style, the cell where her family lived in harsh conditions between 1856 and 1858, the Sacré-Coeur Church where she was baptised and the former Presbyterian where she took the Virgin Mary's message to Abbey Peyramale.

This tour is an opportunity to savour the atmosphere of the city and its mountain setting. Eight million visitors came to Lourdes in 2008 for the 150th anniversary of the Apparitions. It has maintained its characteristic Pyrenees village atmosphere. A fortified castle, former refuge for the Counts of Bigorre, caps the rocky heights of Lourdes, with its narrow streets grouped around the covered market and parish church. www.lourdes-infotourisme.com

Bike down the Pic du Jer, at 1,000m altitude

Biking down Pic du JerLourdes is set against a backdrop of mountains, featuring the majestic Pic du Jer. A cable car service runs to the top of this mountain, where visitors can enjoy a 360° panoramic view over the Lourdes area and Pyrenees mountain peaks: Pic du Midi, Vignemale, Montaigu, etc.

Mountain biking down the slopes of the Pic du Jer is most exhilarating (mountain bike's can be rented at the top). There are two bike tracks: one is for high-level mountain cyclists and is very popular with the region's downhill pilots, the other is suitable for family bike rides. The latter follows the forest trail over 5km returning to the lower cable car station via the Gaves green route. Walking up and down the Pic du Jer is also possible (a three hour hike) following signposted trails bordered with spruce, pines and box trees.
www.picdujer.fr - Phone: +33 (0)5 62 94 00 41

Stay in an old Bigourdane farm

Ten minutes from Lourdes, an old Bigourdane farm made of stone, wood and slate, shelters four guest rooms set in the farm's 19th century barn. Each room is charmingly decorated in its own style with soft, warm colours, visible beams and stonework, antique furniture and decorative colourwash paintwork. The living area is on the ground floor, with the former wine storehouse and living room looking eastwards over a courtyard with its old wells and an enclosed garden with flowers and a private Jacuzzi to the east. Price for 2 days/1 night: €30 per person. Information and bookings with Midi-Pyrénées Vacances Loisirs - Phone: +33 (0)5 34 25 05 00

Further Information

Comité Régional du Tourisme Midi-Pyrénées
54 Bd de l'Embouchure
BP 52166 - 31022 TOULOUSE Cedex 2
www.tourism-midi-pyrenees.co.uk

More Info

Source: ATOUT FRANCE - France Tourism Development Agency. For more information visit www.franceguide.com.
 

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