Lourdes is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Not far from the French / Spanish border, it is surrounded by three mountains reaching 1000m at the summit.
Running through its centre is the (river) Gave du Pau flowing from its source high up in the mountains of Gavarnie.
Aswell as the 15000 resident population of Lourdes, it is estimated a further 5 million pilgrims make the journey to this shrine in the South of France.
Lourdes has three main areas; the old town, the new town and the domain area.
As well as may hotels and restaurants, the old town has gift shops, the market, the castle and, of course a McDonalds! It is also where you will find the Cachot and the boly mill.
The new town has a selection of cafes and bars and the gift shops sell some interesting memorabilia including glow in the dark Mary's and the biggest rosaries you will ever see!
As you walk through the gates into the domain area you immediately realise this is a different area to rest of the town. No vehicles are permitted in the domain and all pigrims are requested to dress modestly. There are two basilicas and many chapels where Mass is celebrated throughout the day, in a variety of different languages.