Small lighted candles at the Notre-Dame sanctuary in Lourdes.
A gathering of pilgrims praying in front of the grotto of Lourdes.
Lourdes is the second most important place of Catholic pilgrimage in the world.
Believers lighting candles in Lourdes.
The faithful holding lights during a service at Lourdes.
A Miraculous Place to Seek Solace
Some destinations have an allure all its own. And no where else in the world can a city claim a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, not once – but 18 times. It is this miraculous feat that brings the city of Lourdes millions of visitors.
Lourdes is nestled in a valley in the southwestern part of the Hautes-Pyrénées. Many Catholics pay homage to this revered city, but you certainly do not have to be Catholic to appreciate all that this mysterious city has to offer. You can get to Lourdes by train from Paris in just over 5½ hours. Get a France Rail Pass and you can spend time in Lourdes and surrounding cities.
On February 11, 1858, a 14 year-old shepherd girl named Bernadette Soubirous came in contact with the Virgin Mary through a vision. The Virgin had revealed herself to Bernadette not once, but a total of 18 times in the niche of a cave. Bernadette was unaware of who the woman was until March 25, 1858, when that the Virgin said to Bernadette "I am the Immaculate Conception."
It is said that Mary commanded Bernadette to "Go drink at the spring and wash there." As there was no flowing water to be found, Bernadette scraped the earth away. As she dug, a small puddle appeared before her, the puddle began to flow. The next day, a stream flowed where the puddle began and this same stream still flows today.
People come from all corners of the world to drink and even wash with the water from the flowing spring in Lourdes. Travelers with ailments and diseases visit Lourdes in hopes to be healed by the waters. It is said that 27,000 gallons of water are produced from the spring each week since it emerged back in 1858.
You can also visit the Grotto of Massabielle, where the Virgin was said to have appeared before Bernadette. Inside, you'll find a statue of the Virgin Mary in the position she was said to have appeared. There is also the Musée Ste-Bernadette, a museum dedicated to her life.
The Haute-Pyrenees section of France is one of the closest in proximity to Spain. So if you've started your travels in Paris and made your way down south, why not keep going? The Eurail France-Spain Pass is an easy way to travel to both countries. From Lourdes, you can easily hop on a train to Spain thanks to high-speed train service. Almost sounds like a miracle.
To learn more about preparing your trip to France, visit Atout France by clicking here if you’re a US resident or here if you’re a Canadian resident
Contributed by: Amiee, Affiliate Marketing Manager, has traveled to 15 countries and over 45 European cities by rail, including Warsaw, where she attempted to find relatives!