Lourdes, France Hotels, Resorts & Hotel Accommodations

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LOURDES
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Lourdes is a town and commune situated in the southwest of the Hautes-Pyrénées department, lying in the first Pyrenean foothills, in southwestern France. Lourdes was originally a big market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. At that time the most prominent feature was the fortified castle which rises up from the centre of the town on a rocky escarpment. Following the claims that there were apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, Lourdes has developed into a major place of Christian pilgrimage. 2008 is the 150th Jubilee of the apparitions, and larger crowds than usual are expected to visit. Today Lourdes has a population of around 15,000 inhabitants but is able to take in some 5,000,000 pilgrims and tourists every season. Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels in France after Paris with about 270 establishments. It is the joint seat of the diocese of Tarbes-et-Lourdes. read full wikipedia reference about Lourdes, France

LOURDES , about 30km southeast of Pau, has just one function. Over seven million Catholic pilgrims arrive here each year, and the town is totally given over to looking after and exploiting them. Lourdes was hardly more than a village before 1858, when Bernadette Soubirous, the 14-year-old daughter of an ex-miller, had the first of eighteen visions of the Virgin Mary in the so-called Grotte de Massabielle by the Gave de Pau. Since then, Lourdes has grown a great deal, and it is now one of the biggest attractions in this part of France, many of its visitors hoping for a miraculous cure for conventionally intractable ailments.

The first large-scale pilgrimage took place in 1873, organized by a reactionary Catholic movement called the Assomptionistes , whose avowed purpose was to stem the advancing tide of republicanism and rationalism. They took over the management of Lourdes, shoving aside the local priest who had wanted to organize the pilgrimages himself. Adroit propagandists and agitators, they sought to promote their cause by publishing a cheap mass-circulation paper called La Croix , aimed at the poor and uneducated, and by organizing these massive pilgrimages.

Practically every shop is given over to the sale of indescribable religious kitsch: Bernadette in every shape and size, adorning barometers, thermometers, plastic tree trunks, key rings, empty bottles that you can fill with holy Lourdes water, bellows, candles, sweets and illuminated plastic grottoes. There's even a waxworks museum, the Musée Grévin , at 87 rue de la Grotte (daily: April-Oct 9-11.30am & 1.30-6.30pm; July & Aug also 8.30-10pm), with over a hundred lifesize figures illustrating the lives of Bernadette and Christ. Clustered around the miraculous grotto are the churches of the Cité Réligieuse , an annexe to the town proper that sprang up last century. The first to be built was the flamboyant Basilique du Rosaire et de l'Immaculée Conception (1871-1883), swiftly followed by the massive subterranean Basilique St-Pie-X , which claims to be able to house 20,000 people at a time. The Grotte de Massabielle itself, where Bernadette had her visions, is the focus of the pilgrimages - a moisture-blackened overhang by the riverside with a statue of the Virgin in waxwork white and baby blue.

Lourdes' only secular attraction is its castle , poised on a rocky bluff guarding the approaches to the valleys and passes of the central Pyrenees. Briefly an English stronghold in the late fourteenth century, it later became a state prison. Inside, it houses the surprisingly excellent Musée Pyrénéen (guided visits: April-Sept daily 9-11.45am & 1.30-6.45pm; rest of year daily except Tues 9am-noon & 2-6pm; last tour 1hr before closing; 30F/?4.60). Its collections include Pyrenean fauna, all sorts of fascinating pastoral and farming gear, and an interesting section on the history of Pyrenean mountaineering. In the rock garden outside are some beautiful models of various Pyrenean styles of house, as well as of the churches of St-Bertrand-de-Comminges and Luz-St-Sauveur.

  

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