France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Shopping in Lourdes, France
Millions of visitors a year? Of course there is shopping!

  Water fountain, Lourdes, France
Above, You can fill your
bottle at one of many spring
water fountains near
Massabielle Cave.


   

 

Walking down the streets of the town of Lourdes your senses are accosted by the sights, sounds, and colors of the many shops that line both sides of the street.

Some of the articles for sale are sacred, some profane, some just downright tacky.

Of course, statues of the Virgin Mary are everywhere, along with portraits of Bernadette Soubirous, the young girl whose visions of the Virgin at the Massabielle Cave started the whole thing.

There's a brisk trade in candles of all sizes, from small ones for 50 centimes to huge ones that cost in the hundreds of euros. These are used both for the Torchlight Marian Procession and to place in the candle burners near the Massabielle Cave, where signs in multiple languages proclaim, "This candle prolongs my prayer." Candles have long played a role in religious ceremonies, and Lourdes is no exception.

Religious medals, rosary beads, statues, and paintings of saints are displayed alongside more mundane items, such as tee shirts, aprons, raincoats, totebags, and postcards.

Perhaps most notable is the preponderance of plastic water bottles. Many pilgrims want to collect water from the spring in the Massabielle Cave, which is piped to a series of water fountains near the sanctuary. Virtually every shop sells a variety of water bottles. Practical, sure, but no place else have I ever seen a plastic water bottle shaped like the Virgin Mary, complete with a crown for a cap...

Water bottles, Lourdes, France

At night it's even more shocking to walk through the shopping area, as the neon lights and gaudy signs make it easy to forget you are in a place of religious pilgrimage. "Provider of the Vatican" screams one sign in bright neon. "Palais du Rosaire," or Palace of the Rosary, is the name of another.

Tourists—and pilgrims—have sought mementoes of their visits to important sites for centuries, and will continue to do so. The shops of Lourdes offer the shopper a wide array of options.


What to See & Do in Lourdes

Lourdes Hotels

Basilicas of Lourdes

Massabielle Cave/Grotto

Processions in Lourdes

Museums of Lourdes

About Lourdes

Lourdes Tourist Information

About the Midi-Pyrénées

 

 

Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan

 

Souvenir shop, Lourdes, France

Above, Souvenir shop in Lourdes, France.

Below, Some of the larger candles—two to three feet high—you can buy in Lourdes and light at the sanctuaries.

 

Candles, Lourdes, France

   
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