17 Most Popular Catholic France Pilgrimage Sites You Should Visit

Are you curious about the most popular Catholic France pilgrimage sites? If so, this post is for you!

From the stunning Notre-Dame de Paris to the iconic Lourdes Grotto in the Pyrenees, France is home to some of the best pilgrimage sites in the world. Whether you’re a devout Catholic or simply a traveler looking to explore the culture and history of France, these Christian pilgrimage sites offer a unique and unforgettable experience.

From the breathtaking architecture to the spiritual atmosphere, these sacred sites are sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit. Explore the rich Catholic history and culture of France through these popular pilgrimage routes!

17 Most Popular Catholic France Pilgrimage Sites

Some of the items on the list I was privileged to visit when I was still single and one site I came back with my husband and kids. And hopefully, we will be able to visit the other France pilgrimage sites in the future.

Here’s a list of some of the most important pilgrimage places that you should visit when having a pilgrimage to France:

1. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in the French Pyrenees is one of the best pilgrimage destinations for Catholics worldwide and also my family’s favorite place to visit in France (we love to go atleast once a year). It’s a great place that I won’t mind visiting many times a year.

It is renowned for the miraculous healing spring and cave, where devotees believe the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858. The sanctuary features numerous chapels and basilicas dedicated to the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin.

photo of a mom with her two toddlers in the Masabielle Grotto in Lourdes, France - one of the most popular Catholic France pilgrimage sites

Million visitors per year travel to France just to visit Lourdes to participate in various spiritual activities, including the Rosary, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confession, and Masses. The sanctuary offers a serene and peaceful environment for people to connect with their faith and seek blessings from the Mother of God.

Start your pilgrimage planning to Lourdes with this guide: Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with Kids


2. Chartres Cathedral

The Chartres Cathedral is located in the town of Chartres, about 48 miles (78 kilometers) southwest of Paris. It is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and is considered one of the most beautiful and well-preserved churches in the world.

It is home to numerous religious treasures, including the Veil of the Holy Mother, also known as Sancta Camisa, which is said to have been worn by Mary at the birth of Jesus. It also features stunning stained glass windows, including the famous Blue Virgin window, which depicts the Blessed Virgin holding the infant Jesus.

It has been a popular Catholic destination in France for centuries and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Pilgrims come to the cathedral to pray, attend Mass, and visit the many chapels and shrines dedicated to various saints and martyrs.

3. Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel in English) is a stunning Gothic royal chapel located in the heart of Paris. It was built in the 13th century by King Louis IX to house his collection of holy relics, including the Crown of Thorns.

What sets Sainte-Chapelle apart is its exceptional colored glass windows, which cover nearly 75% of the chapel’s surface area. The windows depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments and are considered among the finest examples of medieval stained glass art in the world.

Visitors to Sainte-Chapelle can marvel at the intricate details of the colored glass, which creates a kaleidoscope of colors throughout the chapel. The upper chapel, where the most impressive windows are located, can be accessed via a narrow spiral staircase and offers breathtaking views of the city.

Sainte-Chapelle is located just a short walk from Notre Dame Cathedral, and visitors often visit both sites on the same day. The chapel is located on the Île de la Cité, the historic center of Paris, and is easily accessible by public transportation or on foot.

 From the year 1248, the Crown of Thorns was safely held in Sainte-Chapelle until the French Revolution. Then, it was transferred to Notre-Dame de Paris in 1806 until 2019. It was rescued from the fire that destroyed part of the Cathedral and was moved to the Louvre Museum.

4. Notre Dame Cathedral

For any traveler seeking to delve into the history and culture of the Catholic Church, a visit to Notre-Dame de Paris (also known as Our Lady of Paris) in Central France is a must. This grand Gothic cathedral has reigned over Paris for more than eight centuries, earning it the title of the city’s most popular monument. Guests come from far and wide to admire the intricately crafted stained-glass windows, explore the tombs of French royalty, and appreciate the renowned bell towers which house the bells of Notre-Dame. 

Apart from its architectural grandeur, the grand church is also home to many religious and historical artifacts. The Crown of Thorns, which is believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion, is among the most important artifacts housed at Notre Dame.

a photo of a girl with the Notre Dame Cathedral in the background - one of the famous pilgrimage sites in France.

A visit to this iconic shrine is a spiritual expedition that promises an unforgettable experience. It is also an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Catholic faith and the rich history of Paris.

I was able to visit this beautiful, famous church when I was still an au pair in Denmark and hope to be back one day with my family.


5. Mont-Saint-Michel

Saint Michael’s Mount in English is an abbey, located on a small island off the coast of Normandy.

Mont-Saint-Michel has been a sacred spot for over a thousand years and is considered one of the most iconic landmarks in France. The abbey is perched atop a rocky island in the middle of a bay, and it is surrounded by a medieval village that is home to numerous shops selling local specialties such as cider, salt, and seafood, as well as museums and restaurants.

The history of Mont-Saint-Michel dates back to the 8th century when it was a small hermitage dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. Over the centuries, the abbey grew in size and importance, and it became a major pilgrimage area during the Middle Ages. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts millions of visitors each year.

One of the most interesting facts about Mont-Saint-Michel is that it is surrounded by quicksand. The bay around the island has some of the highest tides in Europe, and the water rushes in and out at an astonishing speed. This has created a unique ecosystem where quicksand is formed, and visitors are advised to stay on the designated paths to avoid getting stuck.

Another fascinating fact about Mont-Saint-Michel is that it was used as a prison during the French Revolution (it became France’s version of Alcatraz). The abbey was turned into a prison in 1793, and it remained so for over a century. Today, visitors can see the prison cells and learn about the history of this unusual use of the abbey.

Visitors to Mont-Saint-Michel can tour the abbey, climb to the top of the tower for stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and explore the medieval village that surrounds the abbey.

Mont-Saint-Michel is a unique and fascinating pilgrimage location that offers visitors a glimpse into the history and culture of France. With its stunning Gothic architecture, breathtaking views, and rich history, it is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the Catholic faith and the history of France.

6. Basilica of Saint-Denis

The Basilica of Saint-Denis is a historic church located in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is considered to be the first Gothic church ever built, and it was constructed in the 12th century under the patronage of the French kings.

It is also the burial place of many French monarchs, including King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. It is also known for its stunning colored glass windows and intricate stone carvings that decorate its walls and ceilings.

This stunning Gothic church is also home to the tomb of Saint-Denis, the patron saint of France and the first bishop of Paris.

7. Sanctuary of Our Lady of La Salette

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of La Salette is another pilgrimage destination in France located in the French Alps – in the village of La Salette-Fallavaux, close to Corps, France.  It is dedicated to a Marian apparition that occurred on September 19, 1846, in which Our Lady appeared to two young shepherds: Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat.

The apparition conveyed a message of repentance and conversion, and it has since become a popular site of devotion for Catholics around the world. The sanctuary features a beautiful church, a chapel where the apparition took place, and numerous outdoor spaces for prayer and reflection. Visitors can also explore the nearby mountains and hiking trails.

8. The Sacre-Coeur Basilica

The full name of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica is the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre and it’s dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is located on top of Montmartre neighborhood in Paris and is the second most popular tourist destination of the city after the Eiffel Tower.

It was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a symbol of the Universal Church’s victory over the secular ideals of the Revolution. Its striking white dome and Neo-Byzantine-Romanesque architecture make it a unique addition to the Parisian skyline.

The interior features beautiful mosaics, stained glass windows, and a massive organ. Visitors can also climb to the top of the dome for panoramic views of the city.

photo of a girl with the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in the background - one of the famous France pilgrimage sites

The Sacre-Coeur Basilica is a popular spot for Catholics and a significant tourist destination in Paris. It is open to visitors every day and offers regular Masses and other religious services.

This is another Roman Catholic Church in France that I visited when I was still an au pair in Denmark and would like to visit once again with my family, hopefully soon.

Book Your Montmartre & Sacre Coeur Walking Tour Here

9. Basilica of Sainte-Thérèse of Lisieux

The Basilica of Sainte-Therese of Lisieux is probably one of the best holy locations in France located in the town of Lisieux, France. It is dedicated to Saint Therese of Lisieux, also known as “The Little Flower,” who was a French Carmelite nun and a Doctor of the Church. The saint is known for her devotion to God, her simple and childlike faith, and her “little way” of spiritual humility and trust in God’s love.

Her autobiography, “Story of a Soul,” has become a beloved spiritual classic and has inspired countless people around the world. It features stunning architecture, beautiful mosaics, and numerous chapels dedicated to various saints and religious themes. It attracts millions of visitors each year who come to pray, reflect, and learn more about the life and teachings of Saint Therese.

10. Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Another pilgrimage location in Paris, France is the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

The Chapel is where Saint Catherine Labouré, a French nun,  received visions of the Blessed Virgin in 1830. The Holy Mother instructed her to create a medal that would become known as the Miraculous Medal.

The medal features the image of the Virgin Mary with the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

The Shrine of the Miraculous Medal attracts millions of visitors each year who come to pray, light candles, and venerate the medal. Saint Catherine Labouré’s life and devotion to the Blessed Virgin continue to inspire Catholics around the world.

Among the places listed, this is one on the priority list of popular pilgrimage sites to visit in France because I only recently learned about the Miraculous Medal and its story, and would really like to visit this Chapel in the future with my family. My husband and I wear Miraculous Medals after learning about it from Heather, my favorite Catholic YouTuber.

Book Your Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Tours and Tickets Here

11. Basilica of Saint-Sernin

Located in the city of Toulouse, this shrine is one of the largest Romanesque churches in Europe. It is dedicated to Saint Saturnin, the first bishop of Toulouse.

The Basilica of Saint-Sernin is also a UNESCO Heritage site and is considered to be one of the greatest examples of Romanesque architecture in the world. It was built in the 11th and 12th centuries and is famous for its massive size, intricate carvings, and stunning colored glass windows.

It is named after Saint Saturnin, also known as Saint Sernin, who was martyred in Toulouse in the 3rd century for his Christian faith. It is believed that his tomb was located on the site where the church now stands, and his relics were a major draw for pilgrims in the Middle Ages.

One of the most famous features of the shrine is its ambulatory, which is a circular path that runs behind the altar and is lined with chapels. These chapels are dedicated to various saints and feature exquisite sculptures and artwork. It continues to be an important site of pilgrimage for Catholics from around the world and is a must-see destination for anyone interested in medieval architecture and religious history.

It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1998, specifically as part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France, and it is also said that the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain (the final destination of the world-famous Camino de Santiago) was built following the same plan as Saint-Sernin’s.

If you are planning a pilgrimage to Santiago with your family, make sure to read this post: Santiago de Compostela with Kids.

12. Church of the Jacobins

Another Catholic place in France located in Toulouse is the Church of the Jacobins. It was built in the 13th century and is famous for its stunning architecture and historical significance. The church is named after the Dominican order of friars, also known as the Jacobins, who were known for their preaching and teaching.

The relics of Saint Thomas Aquinas can also be found in the Church of the Jacobins, one of the most famous historical figures from the  Dominican Order of Friars.

Saint Thomas Aquinas is known for his influential writings on philosophy and theology, including his famous work, Summa Theologiae. He spent some time at the Church of the Jacobins while he was studying theology and is believed to have written some of his most important works there.

The Church of the Jacobins is also home to some beautiful artwork and architecture. One of the most famous features of the church is the palm tree-shaped pillar in the nave, which is said to represent the Tree of Life. The church also features several beautiful colored glass windows and sculptures.

Today, the Church of the Jacobins continues to be an important site for religious pilgrimage and is open to visitors who want to learn more about its history and significance.

13. Saint Gildard Convent

Saint Gildard Convent is a Catholic pilgrimage spot located in Nevers, France. It is known for being the final resting place of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, who is a beloved saint in the Universal Church. The saint was born in Lourdes, France, and she is known for her visions of the Virgin Mary in the Grotto of Massabielle.

After the saint’s death in 1879, her body was buried in the Saint Gildard Convent cemetery. In 1909, her body was exhumed, as well as in 1919 and 1925, for the process of beatification and canonization, and on all three occasions,  the incorrupt body was found – meaning that it had not decayed despite being buried for 30 years. Her body was then placed in a glass reliquary for public veneration at the convent chapel and it has become a popular site of devotion for Catholics around the world.

This is definitely another site in France after Lourdes that I wouldn’t mind visiting many times. It also features a museum dedicated to the saint’s life and legacy. Visitors can see personal items that belonged to Saint Bernadette, including her rosary and clothing. The museum also has displays that explain the history and significance of the saint’s visions and her impact on the Universal Church.

photo of Saint Gildard Convent - one of the top France pilgrimage sites

In addition to the museum, visitors can also tour the convent and see the room where the saint lived during her time in Nevers. It features beautiful gardens and chapels, and it is a peaceful and serene place for prayer and reflection.

It also has an accommodation called Espace Bernadette that can accommodate 200 people and catering facilities that are open 24/7 to the public.

Learn more about the Convent of Saint Gildard at their official website: https://www.sainte-bernadette-soubirous-nevers.com

This is the second pilgrimage place in France (after the Chapel of The Miraculous Medal) that is also on the priority list because I really like to visit the tomb of St. Bernadette and see her incorrupt body.

It would be a dream come true for me since growing up I have already heard about Lourdes and St. Bernadette because I was part of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Lourdes (COLL) in our village.

14. Basilica of Saint-Martin

The Basilica of Saint-Martin is located in Tours, France, and is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. Saint Martin was a Roman soldier who became a Christian and later became a bishop. He is known for his acts of kindness and charity, including cutting his cloak in half to give to a beggar.

It was built in the 19th century on the site of an earlier church that was destroyed during the revolution. The architecture of the church is a mixture of Romanesque and Byzantine styles, also known as neo-byzantine, with a stunning facade featuring intricate carvings and sculptures.

It is also home to some important artifacts related to Saint Martin, including his tomb, which is located in the crypt beneath the church. Visitors can also see several beautiful colored glass windows and frescoes that depict scenes from Saint Martin’s life.

In addition to its religious significance, it is also an important cultural site. It is home to a museum that showcases the history and art of the shrine, as well as a collection of artifacts related to Saint Martin and the history of Tours.

15. Basilica of Saint-Remi

This beautiful Basilica of Saint-Remi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the city of Reims and is considered one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in the country and the largest Romanesque church in northern France.

It is dedicated to Saint Remi (also known as “Apostle of the Franks”)  the bishop who baptized Clovis, the first Christian king of the Franks, in the 5th century. Inside the church, you’ll find stunning colored glass windows, intricate carvings, and beautiful frescoes that date back to the 12th century.

The church also houses the relics of Saint Remi, which are kept in a magnificent gold and silver shrine. It was severely damaged during World War I, and fortunately, it was restored to its former glory and is now a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Reims.

16. Sanctuary of Ars

The Sanctuary of Ars is a pilgrimage place located in the small town of Ars-sur-Formans in eastern France. It is dedicated to Saint John Vianney, who served as the parish priest of Ars for over 40 years in the 19th century. Saint John Vianney is known for his devotion to God and his service to his parishioners, many of whom traveled from far and wide to seek his counsel and hear his sermons.

Saint John Vianney is also known as the Curé d’Ars or the Parish Priest of Ars. He was given this title in recognition of his remarkable service to his community and his spiritual leadership. He is considered the patron saint of parish priests.

photo of part of the dome of Sanctuary of Ars - one of the famous pilgrimage sites in France in honor of Saint John Vianney.

The Sanctuary of Ars includes a number of important sites related to Saint John Vianney, including his former home, the church where he preached, and his tomb. Visitors can also see a number of artifacts related to his life, including his personal effects and religious items.

Today, the Sanctuary of Ars continues to be an important site of pilgrimage for Catholics from around the world. It is a place of prayer, reflection, and spiritual renewal, and a testament to the legacy of Saint John Vianney and his remarkable life of service to others.

17. Le Puy Cathedral

Le Puy Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Notre-Dame du Puy, is a Romanesque-style cathedral located in the city of Le Puy-en-Velay, an Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of south-central France.

It was built between the 11th century and 12th and is characterized by its unique shape, with two bell towers that are very different in height, as well as its ornate façade decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures. The interior of the cathedral is equally impressive, with a magnificent nave supported by columns topped with Corinthian capitals. 

One of the highlights of the cathedral is the Black Madonna statue, which is made of blackened wood and is said to date back to the 10th century. This statue is believed to have healing powers and is revered by pilgrims who come to the cathedral to pay their respects.

The cathedral is also significant as it is the starting point for one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in France, the Way of St. James, which has been designated a UNESCO Heritage Site. 

Final Thoughts On The Best Pilgrimage Sites in France

France has numerous pilgrimage sites that attract Christians from all over the world. Some of the best pilgrimage sites in France include Lourdes, Chartres Cathedral, Mont Saint Michel, and Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. These sites offer a unique experience to visitors seeking spiritual renewal, healing, and a deeper connection with their faith.

Pilgrims can spend hours in prayer and reflection, attend mass, or partake in sacraments. May parts of France also offer numerous opportunities for sightseeing, listening to choir performances, or attending processions, depending on the site. 

Whether your family is a devout Catholic or simply interested in exploring the beauty and history of these magnificent churches, a Catholic pilgrimage to France will surely be an experience not to be missed.

Have you been to some of the Catholic pilgrimage sites in France, which ones did you visit? Or are you still planning your very first pilgrimages to France, which ones are you planning to go to? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Looking to book your next family adventure? Feel free to use these resources that are tried and tested by my family.

If you book your next family, solo, or couple trip anywhere via the link below or with any of the hotel/travel links on the website, you’ll get the best deal available and I will get a small commission (without any extra cost to you– the prices direct to the websites and via the links here are the same) which will help me in maintaining this site.

Book your accommodation: You can find the best prices on hotels with these two providers: Booking.com (my favorite) if you are located in Europe, and TripAdvisor if you are anywhere else. If you prefer apartment rentals, find the cheapest prices with VRBO.

Book your entrances: Book your tickets to museums and other attractions and avoid the long queue with Tiqets.com.

Book your excursions: Save time and enjoy a hassle-free excursion by hiring professional guides thru GetYourGuide and Viator.

Book your car: Get the best car rental deals by booking at least one month in advance with DiscoverCars.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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