Lourdes is 516 miles (830 kilometers) south of the French capital of Paris and is located very close to the border with Spain, not far from the Pyrenees Mountains. The city welcomes millions of visitors a year, many of who are religious pilgrims coming to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, where Saint Bernadette is said to have had her 18 visions of the Virgin Mary. It sees so many visitors that in fact, Lourdes has France's second-highest concentration of hotel rooms after Paris, despite only having a local population of 14,000. From Paris, it's a short flight to Lourdes, but you can also drive or book a seat on a train or bus if you have more time.
|Train||7 hours, 30 minutes||from $60||Scenic budget travel|
|Bus||12 hours, 30 minutes||from $25||Budget travel|
|Flight||1 hour, 25 minutes||from $55||Quickest route|
|Car||7 hours, 30 minutes||516 miles (830 kilometers)||A road trip through France|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Paris to Lourdes?
With bus companies like FlixBus and BlaBlaBus, bus tickets from Paris to Lourdes can be found for as little as $25 or $40 one way. The trip typically takes about 12 hours and you may have to transfer somewhere along the way, usually either in Toulouse or Bordeaux.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Paris to Lourdes?
Without competition, the fastest way to get to Lourdes is to fly. The total flight time takes about one hour, 25 minutes, and the route is only offered by Air France three times per day. Fares can sometimes be found for as low as $55 each way, but could cost upwards of $100 at peak travel times.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
To drive the 500-plus miles between Paris and Lourdes will take you about seven hours, 30 minutes. Of course, that doesn't account for traffic or any detours you take along the way.
There are multiple routes you can take to arrive—some of which you might consider if you want to plan a visit to Toulouse or Lyon—but the fastest way is to take the A10 south past Orleans and Bordeaux. After that, get on the A62, which will turn into A65, which then turns into the A64. From the A64, you can get on D940 south and follow the signs for Lourdes.
How Long Is the Train Ride?
There is a high-speed train that takes about seven hours, 30 minutes and it leaves daily from Paris Gare Montparnasse at 2 p.m. and arrives in Lourdes at 9 p.m. It makes a few stops along the way until you get to Toulouse, where you will need to disembark and transfer to another train, which will make more frequent stops. Tickets prices for this high-speed route can often be found for as low as $42 if you book ahead of time.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Lourdes?
The city's religious sites tend to be busiest each year around August 15, when most pilgrims visit for the Feast of Assumption. If you visit any time between April and October, you may even be able to witness the Torchlight Marian Processions that take place every evening when the sun goes down in the old city.
Weather-wise, Lourdes sees mild winters and warm summers. Because spring tends to be the rainier season, it's best to plan a visit for the fall, particularly September, when the temperatures get cooler but it can still be quite sunny. By this time, the summer crowds have thinned out as well.
Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?
The Tarbes-Lourdes Pyrenees Airport is just 6 miles (10 kilometers) away from the city. You could take the shuttle bus to the railway station or city center from the airport, which costs about $2 and runs daily from 6:55 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you are heading to a nearby ski resort, there may also be a direct shuttle you can take to get to the mountains.
What Is There to Do in Lourdes?
Lourdes' pilgrims have been arriving here by the thousands since the 19th century when Saint Bernadette had her first vision of the Virgin Mary. The main religious attraction is the cave where she is said to have had her visions and the cathedral that has been built on the site. It's also possible to visit the childhood home of Bernadette, which is still standing. If you aren't interested in the religious side of Lourdes, you can pursue secular activities like visiting Lourdes Castle, which dates back to the Roman era, or check out the panoramic views of the city from Pic du Jer.