What to do in Lourdes?

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PyreneesOccitanie Spiritual TourismNature and Outdoor ActivitiesCities

Dominique Viet / CRTL Occitanie
© Dominique Viet / CRTL Occitanie

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 4 December 2023, updated on 1 June 2024

A spiritual mecca, Lourdes welcomes more than 3.5 million visitors a year from all over the world to its sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Lourdes. Situated at the foot of the Pyrenees, in the Occitanie region of France, the Marian city is also a popular destination for nature lovers and gourmets. Discover our selection of unmissable visits.

Visits not to be missed

  • The Sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Lourdes Every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world come to the Grotto of Massabielle, one of the 22 sites of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is here that the young Bernadette Soubirous is said to have seen the Virgin Mary 18 times in 1858. Covering an area of 52 hectares, the sanctuary has many places of worship to discover, including three basilicas: the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the oldest, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Romanesque-Byzantine style, and the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. The faithful can then follow one of the two Stations of the Cross, decorated with cast-iron or marble statues, before taking a dip in the sanctuary's pools, where they can immerse themselves in the 12°C water from the nearby spring, discovered in the Grotto of the Apparitions.
  • The fortified castle and its Pyrenean museum An impregnable fortress for more than ten centuries, the Lourdes Castle, listed as a National Monument, dominates the town on its rocky spur and houses the Pyrenees Museum, a "Musée de France" with the most important collections on the history of the Pyrenees. The visit ends in the botanical garden, full of aromatic and medicinal plants.
  • Les Halles de Lourdes(Lourdes covered market) With its typical late 19th century metal architecture, the Halles de Lourdes attracts the eye of the curious, while its interior pleases the taste buds of gourmets: Pyrenean trout, Bigorre black pork, duck, Pyrenean tomme cheese, cakes on a spit... It's all the flavours of the Southwest that emanate from the stands. A concentrate of local gastronomy, served on a platter every day from April to October.

Point de vue sur les Pyrénées depuis le sommet du Pic du Jer, accessible en téléphérique depuis Lourdes.
© Philipimage / Adobe Stock - Point de vue sur les Pyrénées depuis le sommet du Pic du Jer, accessible en téléphérique depuis Lourdes.
  • Lake of Lourdes A morning jog, an introduction to fishing, a walk or cycle ride, stand-up paddle boarding - Lake Lourdes offers a wide range of activities just a few kilometres from the town centre. Away from the 50-hectare lake, you'll discover a peat bog which is home to rare or endangered species such as the fadet des laiches (a butterfly) and the droséra (a carnivorous plant).
  • The Pic du Jer At an altitude of 900 metres, the Pic du Jer offers one of the best views of Lourdes and the Pyrenees. Accessible by funicular from the town centre, the summit is the starting point for many hiking, mountain biking and running routes. You can also visit the caves and discover the flowers and aromatic plants on the botanical trail.
  • Hautacam Mountain Resort Less than 30 kilometres from Lourdes, at an altitude of 1509 metres, the Hautacam resort is ideal for year-round activities. Downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoe trekking, dog sleigh rides, inflatable buoy rides in winter, tobogganing , llama rides, electric scooter rides the rest of the year...
  • And also : Other sites to discover around Lourdes include the Pic du Midi and its observatory at 2,877 metres, the Pont d'Espagne and its spectacular waterfall in the heart of the Pyrenees National Park and the Cirque de Gavarnie, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Must-see experiences in Lourdes

  • Take part in the torchlight procession. A moment of communion and meditation starting from the Grotto of the Apparitions, the torchlight procession is a unique experience for pilgrims and visitors to Lourdes. Accompanied by songs and prayers, it takes place every evening from April to the end of October.
  • Discover local know-how The town of Lourdes is a highly spiritual place, and has developed a number of skills linked to its shrine, including the production of religious statuettes, medals, candles and jewellery made from blown glass filled with Lourdes water. Several workshops are open to visitors. On the outskirts of the town, you can also discover the various stages in the making of garments from Pyrenean wool (jackets and dressing gowns, plaids and blankets, berets, slippers and scarves, jumpers, etc.).
  • Taste the specialities of the Pyrenees. There's nothing like a stroll through the stalls at Les Halles de Lourdes to soak up the specialities of the Pyrenees. Barèges-Gavarnie mutton, Ossau Iraty, Pyrenean blueberry pies... For those with a sweet tooth, you can visit the confectioners in Gaves to taste the fruit-flavoured cailloux de Lourdes or the Pailhasson chocolate factory, the oldest in France.

  • Discover the wines of the south-west To accompany the products and specialities of the Pyrenees, the restaurants of Lourdes offer regional wines, Madiran and Jurançon, which was used to baptise the future King of France Henri IV... Full-bodied red for the former, dry or sweet white for the latter, wine lovers will be tempted by a tasting session (in moderation) directly with a winegrower or in a cooperative cellar.

  • Cycling with the family on the Voie verte des Gaves. The Lourdes region is a fantastic playground for cycling enthusiasts. Built on a former railway line, the Voie verte du Gave de Pau is a 17km riverside itinerary that is both bucolic and practical, as it takes in a number of sites to visit, including Lourdes Castle, the Pyrenees Wildlife Park and the Pic de Jer. Along the way, audio signposts tell you more about the history of the valley, its famous people and the local cuisine.

  • Step into the shoes of a Tour de France rider Tourmalet, Aspin, Aubisque... Many of the Pyrenean peaks that have made the Tour de France legend are just a few pedals away from the centre of Lourdes, provided you're a cyclist with experience of 10% gradients and endless hairpin bends... There are several possible routes, including a 100km loop around the Tourmalet via La Mongie, unless you want to climb the Col d'Aspin and the Hourquette d'Ancizan... For breathtaking views of the Pyrenees, including the Pic du Midi, visitors can hire a car and take the iconic route des cols.

  • Walking around the mountain lakes With over 2,500 mountain lakes, the Pyrenees have no shortage of places to relax and cool off after a family hike, while admiring the magnificent mountain scenery: Lac de Gaube, accessible by chairlift from Cauterets or on the GR10 from Pont d'Espagne, Lac d'Isaby, located at the top of the Hautacam resort, Lac de Suyen, in the Pyrenees National Park, or Lac d'Artouste, accessible after an hour's ride on the little train.

  • Try ziplining in the Gorges de Sia With 16 ziplines, 11 via ferrata and 4 Nepalese bridges over a distance of 2 kilometres, the Luz Tyroline acrobatic course at Luz Saint-Sauveur, near Lourdes, is quite simply the longest in France. It's an unusual way to discover the Sia Gorges, with its waterfalls, turquoise waters and lush vegetation.

  • Observe the flora and fauna in the regional nature reserve of the Pibeste-Aoulhet massif. Overlooking the town of Lourdes, the Pibeste-Aoulhet massif is home to one of the largest nature reserves in mainland France (5,100 hectares). With a pair of binoculars, it's not unusual to spot diurnal birds of prey (Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture, bearded vulture) or, if you're lucky, protected mammals such as the isard or the Corsican mouflon. The many forests of the massif are home to more than 850 species of plants, including the iris.

Good to know : Getting to Lourdes by train

The train is the most practical and environmentally-friendly way of getting to Lourdes from Paris, thanks to the high-speed line departing from Montparnasse station. Once there, the urban transport network is free for holders of the Lourdes Pyrénées City Card, which gives access to over ten tourist sites.

Find out more: Visit Lourdes Staying in Occitania

Also read: Cycling the mythical route des cols in the Pyrenees A lake at the end of the hike in the Pyrenees

By Kévin Bonnaud