Lourdes is a town in South Western France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. It’s known for the Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes. Each year, millions visit the Grotto of the Apparitions where, in 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette, a local woman. In the grotto, pilgrims can drink or bathe in water flowing from a spring.
In 1858 Lourdes rose to prominence in France and abroad due to the Marian apparitions seen by the peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous, who was later canonized. Shortly thereafter the city with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes became one of the world’s most important sites of pilgrimage and religious tourism. Today Lourdes hosts around six million visitors every year from all corners of the world. This constant stream of pilgrims and tourists transformed quiet Lourdes into the second most important centre of tourism in France, second only to Paris, and the third most important site of international Catholic pilgrimage after Rome and the Holy Land. As of 2011, of French cities only Paris had more hotel capacity.
There are direct flights from London Stansted airport (STN) to Lourdes (LDE). The flying time is approximately two hours. There are connection flights via Paris from many other airports; but the time and money you need to spend will be high.
Homeward bound, we pass Charles de Gaulle Airport before heading northwards to Calais, arriving at Westminster Cathedral in the early evening, giving passengers ample time for their onward travel arrangements.