Living France - - Where To Live -

Lourdes is over­looked by two im­mense sights, the Pic du Jer moun­tain and the Sanc­tu­ary of Our Lady of Lourdes. In 1858, the Vir­gin Mary is said to have ap­peared to a young girl called Ber­nadette Soubirous in the town and helped her find a spring which now sits within the sanc­tu­ary and at­tracts mil­lions of Catholic pil­grims ev­ery year. Re­li­gious or not, it is easy to ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty of the town. The strik­ing grey sanc­tu­ary has no­tice­able gold em­bel­lish­ments, while the colours of the re­li­gious mu­rals be­come more ev­i­dent as you reach closer. The sanc­tu­ary is ac­tu­ally made up of five basil­i­cas and a grotto – where the spring is found. Masses and cel­e­bra­tions hap­pen daily and en­try to the sanc­tu­ary is free.

The Pic du Jer moun­tain is a great place for hik­ing and it is pos­si­ble to walk from Lourdes to the sum­mit fol­low­ing a well­main­tained and sign­posted path. Around the moun­tain you with find botan­i­cal trails, and there are won­der­ful views of the rest of the Pyrénées. Be­tween March and Novem­ber you can take the Pic du Jer fu­nic­u­lar up the moun­tain. There is also a world-cup-qual­ity moun­tain bike trail, which you can pay to go on for a day – or keen lo­cal moun­tain bik­ers can get a sea­son pass. This year, Lourdes wel­comed 146 world class cy­clists for stage 19 of the Tour de France which be­gan in Lourdes and ended in Laruns.

The Pyrénées is one of the largest and high­est moun­tain ranges in France. It runs along the south of France form­ing a nat­u­ral bor­der be­tween France and Spain. Vigne­male, at 3,298m, is the high­est of the range’s peaks that sit within France. Sev­eral ar­eas of the Pyrénées are clas­si­fied as re­gional parks in­clud­ing Parc Na­tional des Pyrénées to the south of Lourdes. There is a di­rect road from the city to the park that runs along­side the Gave de Pau river. The park is a refuge for an­i­mals and birds such as the grif­fon vul­ture, the moun­tain lizard and the brown bear.

Can­dle­light pro­ces­sion at the Sanc­tu­ary of Our Lady of Lourdes

The fu­nic­u­lar of Pic du Jer

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