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Lourdes town guide

LOURDES.

Visitors by hire car visiting this city in the Pyrenees should have no difficulty finding somewhere to stay as long as they are not visiting at a time of a Christan festival, this is because Lourdes has more places to stay than any other place in France. Situated quite close to the Spanish border it is, of course, best known as a place of pilgrimage and healing. It is an interesting town although, in my view somewhat spoiled by the commercialisation of its spiritual significance.

It was only in 1858, less than two hundred years ago, that Bernadette Soubirous saw a vision of a young girl near the river. This was to occur a further seventeen times and has resulted in the belief that the water at Lourdes has curative powers. The town undoubtedly benefits from the coach loads of pilgrims that go there.

In fact, Lourdes is a very old settlement and has a further legend attached to it. In the eighth century Charlemagne was battling with the Saracens who held the castle at what we now call Lourdes, Mirat, the Saracen leader, was under siege by Charlemagne's army but would not give in. One day an eagle appeared and dropped a huge trout at Mirat's feet. The Saracen took the trout and showed it to his enemy to get him to believe that he still had food. Later Mirat was baptised and took the name Lorus which later became Lourdes.

Use you hire car to explore the valley roads in this area, but take care as the weather changes very quickly at these altitudes.

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