franceThe famous town of Lourdes is situated in the Southwest of the Hautes-Pyrénées department, lying in the first Pyrenean foothills. It is overlooked from the south by the Pyrenean peaks of Aneto, Montaigu, Vignemale (3,298m), while around the town there are three summits reaching up too 1,000m, which are known as the Béout, the Petit Jer with its three crosses and the Grand Jer with its single cross which guard over the town lying below.

Lourdes was originally a small unremarkable market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. At that time the most prominent feature was the fortified castle which rises up from the centre of the town on a rocky escarpment. Following the Apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette, Lourdes has developed into a major tourist destination as a Marian city. Today Lourdes has a population of some 17,000 inhabitants but is able to take in some 5,000,000 pilgrims and tourists every season. Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels in France after Paris with some 270 establishments.

Lourdes lies at an altitude of 1,375 ft (420 m) and in a central position through which runs the Gave de Pau River from the south coming from Gavarnie, into which flow several smaller rivers from Barèges and Cauterets. The Gave then branches off to the west towards the Béarn, running past the banks of the grotto and on downstream to Pau and then Biarritz.

We would thank the Sanctuaries Notre-Dame de Lourdes/EURL Basilique du Rosaire for the use of certain images used in this document.