Set in in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Lourdes has been luring Catholic pilgrims for hundreds of years, thanks to the storied Sanctuaires Notre Dame de Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared in 1858. Venture outside the town and you'll find rolling countryside, hilltop castles and subterranean caverns.
Things to do in Lourdes
Sanctuaires Notre Dame de Lourdes is one of the world's most important Catholic pilgrimage sites and lures a constant stream of worshippers. Pilgrims flock to bathe in the ice-cold baths found inside the grotto, as they're thought to contain holy water.
Take a day trip to Grottes de Betharram to see a series of underground caves. You can also visit Chateau Fort, a magnificent 1,000-year-old stronghold that commands panoramic views over the countryside. You can stroll around the botanical garden and visit the Pyrenean Museum, which contains ceramics and antique furniture.
For the best views in town, hike up to the Pic du Jer Viewpoint to see its enormous cross or ride the 100-year-old funicular. From the summit, you'll get sweeping views over Lourdes and the snow-capped Pyrenees mountains.
Owned by the legendary Jean-Pierre St-Martin, Le Viscos is one of the most iconic restaurants in France. It's tucked away in the tiny village of St-Savin, around 16 kilometres south of Lourdes. The restaurant is known for its ultra-rich foie gras, as well as other Basque, Breton and Pyrenean delicacies.
Getting around Lourdes
Lourdes is easy to get around on foot or by riding a bicycle, while local buses run throughout Lourdes and the Occitanie region. The town is also serviced by a small train station with connections to Paris in around six hours.