Are you thinking about going on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with kids and need some help with planning, accommodation, and itinerary?
If yes, I’ve got you covered because as a Catholic family who loves to visit Catholic pilgrimage destinations, we recently made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France (we try to go every year) with our kids aged 5 and 3.
Short History of Lourdes
Lourdes is a small town located in southwestern France that has gained fame as an important pilgrimage destination for its world-famous Marian shrine – The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The reason for its popularity is the apparitions of the Virgin Mary that reportedly appeared to a girl named Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous
Bernadette was born on January 7, 1844, in Lourdes, France, into a family of six siblings. Her parents, Francois and Louise Soubirous, were poor millers who struggled to make ends meet. Bernadette’s family lived in a small cramped room, which also served as their kitchen and bedroom.
Despite their poverty, Bernadette’s family was deeply religious. Her parents had a strong devotion to the Catholic Church, and they instilled their faith in their children. Bernadette was known to be a devout and pious child who loved to pray and attend Mass.
In 1866, Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity in their convent at Nevers. Her incorrupt body lies beneath a glass cover at her convent in Nevers, France. Saint Bernadette was eventually canonized by the Catholic Church in 1933 and has become a revered figure among Catholics.
Her visions eventually led to the establishment of The Sanctuary of Our Lady Lourdes as a sacred pilgrimage site, which draws millions of pilgrims from all over the world to visit Lourdes each year. Her visions of the Virgin Mary and her steadfast dedication to her faith continue to inspire millions of people around the world today.
The Marian Apparitions At The Grotto of Massabielle
In February 1858, when Bernadette was just 14 years old, she had a vision of the Virgin Mary while collecting firewood near a cave (grotto in French). Over the next several weeks, she claimed to have several more encounters with the Virgin Mary, who asked her to pray and do penance for the conversion of sinners.
Bernadette’s visions attracted quite a bit of attention, and many people began to follow her to the grotto. Some people believed that she was merely a delusional child, while others saw her visions as evidence of divine intervention.
The apparitions continued 18 times between February 11 and July 16, 1858, and Bernadette was instructed by the holy figure to tell others to build a chapel where the apparitions occurred. The chapel is now known as the Grotto of Massabielle, a significant holy site for Catholics worldwide.
Saint Bernadette was also instructed to drink from a spring that materialized at the site. The water from the spring was reported to have healing properties, and many people began visiting the site to pray and drink from the spring in the grotto.
Saint Bernadette is considered a central figure in the story of Lourdes. Although she was initially met with skepticism by the local authorities, her visions and the miracles associated with the Lourdes Spring have since gained widespread recognition.
Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with Kids: 3-Day Lourdes Itinerary
If you’re a Catholic family planning a trip to Lourdes, France with your kids, then this is the article for you. I’m sharing our experiences and helpful tips so you can make the most of your pilgrimage with kids in Lourdes.
This Lourdes pilgrimage itinerary is based on my family’s recent pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with our boys aged 5 and 3. We did the trip for 3 days during the Holy Week from April 4-6 (Tuesday-Thursday).
Just a note that the daily itineraries are not jam-packed because my family loves to travel the slow way. I’ll list the other places to see in Lourdes, France that are not included in the itinerary in the later part.
Day 1 Lourdes Pilgrimage: Hotel check-in, snacks/early dinner, visit to the Grotto, and lighting candles at the Chapels of Light
Here are the things that we did on the first day of our pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with our kids, according to time order:
This post may contain affiliate links. This means that I get a small commission when you buy something by clicking through the links in this post at NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. In other words, even if you go straight to their website, you will pay the same price. Read the full disclosure policy here.
Hotel Check-in at Hotel Eliseo
We are blessed to live in Spain and only a 5-hour drive to Lourdes, France. But because we are traveling with kids, we make several stops, so it’s about a 7-8-hour drive for us. We arrive around 6:30 pm.
We stayed at Hotel Eliseo and our check-in was so smooth! I highly recommend this hotel because it’s only a 1-3 minute walk to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes depending on your pace.
We loved our room because it has a second floor with 2 single beds and a bathroom. It’s the first time we have a hotel room with 2 levels!
After we settled in and checked our hotel room, we rested a bit and I arranged our luggage.
Then after about an hour or so, we decided to have some snacks, which was also considered an early dinner since it was around 7-7:30 pm in one of the many bars/restaurants close to the entrance of the sanctuary.
You can also pack some food for dinner, so, you can eat in the comfort of your hotel room. But if you decide to have dinner outside, make sure to go to the bars/restaurants before 8 pm because they usually close at 8 pm. The receptionist informed us this and it was strange for us since we are used to late dinners in Spain.
Visit To The Massabielle Grotto
Right after our snacks/early dinner, we decided to have a quick visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.
We stopped at the Grotto of Massabielle for a short prayer, then my husband also explained to the kids about the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette Soubirous and told her that She is the Immaculate Conception.
Lighting Candles at the Chapels of Light
Then we proceeded to the Chapels of Lights located opposite the grotto (you have to cross a bridge) to light some candles for our intentions.
We heeded back to our hotel and we ate some more of the food that we packed from home.
Day 2 Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France: Confession, Mass, Lunch, Visiting the House of St. Bernadette, Buying Souvenirs, Rest, Dinner
Here’s our relaxing itinerary for Day 2 of our pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with our kids:
Going to Confession
One of the things that we love doing when we visit Catholic sites is to go to confession. We try to avail the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least 3-4 times a year, but the more the better. And the 2 times that we make sure to go are before/during Holy Week and Christmas.
And because we went during the Holy Week, confession was really on top of our “to-do” list.
The confession building is on the right side of the Sanctuary and is impossible to miss because there are English, Italian, and French words written for the word confession. There’s a confession everyday from 9.30 am – 11.00 am & 3.30 pm – 6.00 pm.
Volunteers will greet you at the door and will ask you which language you prefer for confession, and they’ll point you to the right area. We were directed to the “Spanish” waiting area.
My husband went in first and I was in the waiting area with the kids practicing what to say (I am not a native Spanish speaker and confession makes me nervous everytime, yet it makes me soo relieved afterward). A man approached me to ask if I was in a hurry because if not, he would like to go next since he had limited time in Lourdes, I said he could definitely go first and it gave me more time to practice.
Attending Holy Mass
We always try our best to attend Holy Mass every Sunday and on holy days of obligation, no matter where we are.
Right after the confession, we headed to the Basilica of the Immaculate Concepcion for the 11 am Spanish Mass. And we were delighted because we met Fr. Nico and Daru in the circle in front of the Basilica.
Fr. Nico and Daru are Indonesians we met in the lobby of Hotel Eliseo during check-in. We arrived at the same time as their group and after check-in, we were talking a bit in the lobby, Fr. Nico asked our names and when it was our time to ask him, he said he is a priest.
I was surprised because usually, I can identify priests by the clothes they wear (the white color on the neck part), but he was wearing civilian clothes.
Anyways, we had a short, yet meaningful conversation. They are very friendly and said that if we ever come to Indonesia, we are very welcome to contact them. and we said the same if they ever come to Barcelona for a visit.
I ask them to write their numbers and e-mails on a piece of paper. And as promised, I sent them messages a few days after we came back from Lourdes. And they gladly delighted and now we are communicating.
There are several Mass schedules everyday in different locations within the Sanctuary:
- The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (upper basilica)
- The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary
- The Basilica of St. Pius X (underground basilica)
Make sure to ask at the information center for the schedule or visit the website: https://www.lourdes-france.org/en/
Before we left for confession, my husband asked the receptionist for a restaurant serving authentic French cuisine because he wanted us to have a fancy lunch. The receptionist gave him a map explaining the location and said that we had to be there before or at 12 noon since restaurants have an early closing time after lunch.
So, after Mass, we went to the recommended restaurant, and to our surprise, it was a pizza place and it was no longer in operation! Hmmm, looks like the receptionist is not that updated on the latest happenings!
We kept on walking and found a pretty full restaurant (it’s always a good sign for us because it means the food is delicious), so, we went in, and luckily there was still an available table for us.
Visiting the Paternal House of St. Bernadette
After lunch, we decided to walk slowly back to the hotel. But on our way, we saw on the street the buried stone-like indications toward the childhood house of St. Bernadette (Maison Paternelle de Sainte-Bernadette), so, we decided to go there again (we already went on our previous visit when our firstborn was still 10 months old).
The visit was quick, like a maximum of 3 minutes or more depending on the number of tourists ahead of your group. There was only a mother-daughter tandem ahead of us, so, the tour was a quick one.
There’s a souvenir shop right after you get out of St. Bernadette’s house, it actually looks like an extension of the house. We looked around for some souvenirs and decided to buy a book about St. Bernadette in Spanish.
We continued walking and checking into more souvenir shops and bought some souvenirs for family and friends: veils, rosary beads, rosaries for the cars, and a cross for the kids’ room.
Rest in Our Hotel Room
Right after buying all the souvenirs, we decided to head back to the hotel to get some rest, that way we also relaxed while the kids watched some videos.
My husband always brings his laptop and a cable to connect to the TV, so, he can have his much-needed relaxation by connecting his laptop to the TV and allowing the kids to watch some videos (Dani y Evan, Cocomelon, Leo the truck, or Bob the train, depending on their choice).
Around 7:30 pm, we got out of our hotel room to have dinner. We checked the bars/restaurants close to our hotel and the entrance of the sanctuary, including the Filipino restaurant we saw earlier, and we decided to go for pizza at the Pizzeria nearby.
My husband and I decided earlier that we were going to attend the light procession at 9 pm, but after dinner, we decided not to anymore, since it was already late for the kids and he was already very tired.
Day 3 LOURDES Pilgrimage: Hotel Check-out, Water bath, Quick visit to the grotto, Going Home
Here’s our unhurried Day 3 Lourdes, France itinerary:
Check-out from Hotel Eliseo
Since the check-out time at Hotel Eliseo is at noon, we decided to do it first before heading once again to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes for the water bath. This way, we don’t have to hurry to go back to the hotel.
The receptionist was so nice to us and she allowed our car to stay in their private parking area even after check-out.
We put all our things in the car and headed to the Sanctuary for the water bath.
Water Bath/Water Gesture
This is our first activity since we didn’t have much time to do it the day before.
I have already experienced the water bath (where pilgrims take a dip into the healing waters of Lourdes) during my very first pilgrimage to the Sanctuary in 2014 when I was still single. It was indeed a very meaningful experience for me, and I want my husband and kids to experience it, as well.
However, actual bathing was stopped during the pandemic for safety and social distancing purposes. It is replaced by an alternative: water gesture.
The water gesture still happened in the same building, as usual. We went around 10 am and there was only a short queue. Wearing a mask is obligatory, but we didn’t bring any.
Thankfully, the volunteer who assisted us gave us masks (they have masks at the entrance for those who don’t have one, you just have to give a donation in the donation box).
The volunteer asked us which language we prefer and ushered us to the Spanish waiting area. There was one group ahead of us. When our turn came, we were ushered into one of the “bath rooms” by two Spanish-speaking women. One woman explained to us that there’s no actual dipping into the water, she explained to us the process.
First, she led us into prayer and gave us time to say our intentions in silence. After several minutes, she gets closer to us with the other woman who acted as her assistant.
She asked us to put our hands together, then, she poured water and instructed us to drink from it. and after that, she poured water the second time and instructed us to wash/wet our faces with it.
Then it’s the kids’ turn. They were given disposable cups to drink from, and water was also poured into their hands to wash/wet their faces. After that, we talked briefly with the women, said thank you, and left.
As we walked away, I noticed the smiles on my kids’ faces. They too had enjoyed their experience and were grateful for the opportunity to participate in this special ritual as an alternative to water bathing. It was still meaningful, and a moment that we would always cherish and remember.
Quick Visit to the Massabielle Grotto
Right after the water bath, we stopped in the Massabielle Grotto once again to say a short prayer, especially for our safe trip back home.
We heeded back to Hotel Eliseo’s garage after our quick visit to the grotto and we finally drove home around 11-11:30 am.
We stopped in Vall d’Aran (already part of Spain where we went camping in 2019) for lunch before driving the final leg of our journey back home. We arrived safely around 5:30-6 pm.
Best Time to Visit Lourdes, France with Kids
Lourdes, France is an all-year-round destination since its main attraction which is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is open all year round, 24/7.
However, it is important to note that the main tourist season in Lourdes is from Easter to October, with July and August as the busiest months. This is an important fact to consider since prices for hotels, and airfares are more expensive during these times.
With the above considerations, the best time to visit Lourdes, France is during the off-season which is from November until before Easter because there are fewer crowds and cheaper travel-related expenses.
But for me personally, the best time to visit Lourdes, France with kids is during November and late March or the beginning of April, because they’re still in the off-season range and the weather during these times is supposed to be not yet very cold.
Weather is a significant factor when choosing our vacation dates to a certain place because we are not a cold-loving family. We love warm weather and much more since I am a tropical mom from the Philippines, so, cold weather is a no-no for me.
If you decide to visit Lourdes during the winter months, it is essential to note that many hotels and businesses close during these times, so, there are fewer options to choose from.
Our trip to Lourdes was originally booked for October 2022 to celebrate our firstborn’s birthday, but we got hit with COVID-19, so we had to rebook it. We contacted the hotel to rebook for December, but they were already closed for the winter season in December. So, we finally moved it to the Holy Week of 2023.
Where to Stay in Lourdes, France with Kids
There are a lot of accommodations to choose from in Lourdes, France from hotels, and apartments to camping sites.
However, for a short visit with kids, it’s better to stay in hotels for convenience. Here are my family’s top recommendations:
1. Hotel Eliseo
My husband was so impressed with this hotel. When we go on a trip, he always lets me book the accommodation and tours, etc, that’s why I try my very best to book nice, yet affordable hotels.
This hotel has everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable stay, including spacious and clean rooms, a delicious on-site restaurant, and a convenient location just a few steps away from the Sanctuary.
The hotel also offers a range of amenities for families, such as cribs and high chairs for babies, and a 24-hour reception desk to assist with any needs or questions.
Additionally, the hotel staff is friendly and accommodating, making sure that our family’s stay is as pleasant as possible. Overall, Hotel Eliseo is an excellent choice for families visiting Lourdes, combining comfort, convenience, and affordability in one package.
1. Hotel Paradis
Another hotel that my family highly recommends when visiting Lourdes, France with kids is Hotel Paradis.
This hotel offers a variety of amenities and services that are perfect for families, such as spacious and clean rooms (but only one floor), a delicious on-site restaurant, and hotel staff that is always ready to assist with any needs or questions that families may have.
Hotel Paradis also has a range of amenities for children, such as a play area and games room, making it an ideal choice for families traveling with kids. We love the play area and games room a lot! Our then 10-month-old son had so much fun playing!
However, this hotel is about a 10-minute walk to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes (you need to cross the bridge), but we enjoyed the walk because we got to pass by several souvenir shops and look around.
Hotel Paradis is another great option for families looking for a comfortable and convenient stay in Lourdes, France.
Getting Around Lourdes, France with Kids
While public transportation options are available, such as buses and trains, the best way to get to Lourdes is by car.
By renting a car or driving your vehicle, you’ll have the flexibility and convenience to explore the city and surrounding areas at your own pace.
Having a car also allows you to easily visit nearby attractions, such as the Pyrenees Mountains or the city of Toulouse. Remember that parking can be limited in some areas, so planning and researching parking options before arriving is important.
Overall, traveling by car is the most efficient and convenient way to get to Lourdes, but once you arrive there, you can easily explore the place by walking.
🚙Looking to rent a car? Find the cheapest car rentals here!
Other Things to Do On your Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with Kids
Some of the things on the list I have already done on my previous visit to Lourdes when I was still single, and the others on the list, we will definitely do on our future visits to the Sanctuary.
Here are some more things to do in Lourdes on your pilgrimage to Lourdes with your kids:
1. Attend the Marian torchlight procession in the evening – this is a tradition that started in 1872 and it happens daily at 9 pm, where pilgrims carry candles and sing hymns while walking around the Sanctuary.
This was originally on our plan but missed it since my husband was already tired and it was already late for the kids since it was 9 in the evening.
2. Visit the Le Cachot – the dungeon of 16m² (le cachot in French) which was an old prison cell until 1824), where St. Bernadette and her family lived from the winter of 1857 after his father became unemployed, until the fall of 1858.
It is from Le Cachot that Bernadette goes to the Massabielle Grotto to collect bones and dry wood and sees the apparition of the Virgin Mary.
3. Visit Le Petit Lourdes – a replica of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes that is designed for children to learn about the apparitions and the message of Our Lady.
This is one of the things that I would like to see on our next visit.
4. Pray the Rosary in front of the Massabielle Grotto – this is something that I would like to do on our last visit, but my husband said that it’s better we pray the Rosary in the hotel since it’s difficult to control the kids on an open environment. Hopefully, we can finally do this when the kids are a bit older.
5. Do the Stations of the Cross – also known as the Way of the Cross, this Stations of the Cross in the Sanctuary which starts on the left side of the entrance was inaugurated in September 1912, stretches over 1,500 meters on the Hill of Espélugues.
The 15 stations of the Cross have 115 life-size figures in total that are made of cast iron and painted gold.
I was blessed to participate in a Station of the Cross during my very first pilgrimage to Lourdes because it was one of the activities that my group did.
6. Take a guided tour of the Sanctuary – if you want to learn more about its history, and significance, and need someone to guide you and your family, a guided tour of the Sanctuary is highly recommended, especially if you have limited time in Lourdes. It’s going to be a great time-saver.
how much did we spend on our 3-day pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with kids
Overall, we spent around 700-800€ for our 3-day pilgrimage to Lourdes with our kids which includes all expenses: accommodation, food, souvenirs, donations, gas for the car, and miscellaneous expenses.
But this cost can surely be lowered if your family opts for cheaper accommodation, bring more food from home, and be conscious of the unnecessary expenses.
It’s important to note that France is more expensive compared to Spain. A cup of coffee costs 3,20€ in Lourdes, while we can have it for 1,20€ in Spain and the same thing goes for food. The prices are way higher compared to Spain.
FAQs About Lourdes, France with Kids
Is Lourdes, France a safe destination for families with kids?
Yes, Lourdes is generally a safe destination for families with kids. However, as with any destination, it’s important to practice basic safety precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings and staying aware of your surroundings.
How many days in Lourdes, France with kids?
The recommended number of days to spend in Lourdes, France with kids depends on your itinerary and interests, but typically 2-3 days are enough to visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and enjoy other family-friendly activities.
How much money do I need for 3 days in Lourdes, France with the kids?
For a 3-day trip to Lourdes, France with kids, you should budget for lodging and food costs, as well as costs to access attractions like a guided tour to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. Airfare is likely your biggest expense, so researching budget airlines and deals can help keep the cost down. Additionally, there are some affordable accommodation options in the area if you don’t mind trading comfort for savings. Budgeting for around 175€-200€ ($192-$219) per person per day should give you enough money to cover basics such as meals, transportation, and tickets to attractions. Of course, this may vary depending on how much shopping or activities you want to do during your trip.
Can kids participate in the religious activities at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes?
Yes, kids are welcome to participate in the religious activities at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. However, it’s important to respect the traditions and practices of the Catholic faith.
What should we pack for our trip to Lourdes with kids?
It’s important to pack comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, hats, and weather-appropriate clothing. If you plan on visiting the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, it’s also recommended to bring a water bottle and a shawl or scarf to cover your shoulders.
What is the best time to visit Lourdes, France with kids?
The best time of year to visit Lourdes with kids is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. However, keep in mind that the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes can be busier during peak pilgrimage seasons, such as Easter and the summer months.
Are there Hotels Near The Sanctuary Of Our Lady of Lourdes?
Yes, there are many hotels near the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. I made a list of the best hotels that are close to the Sanctuary.
Are there any amusement parks or water parks in Lourdes?
No, there are no amusement parks or water parks in Lourdes. However, there are several other family-friendly attractions in Lourdes to enjoy, such as the Petit Train de Lourdes, Parc Animalier des Pyrenees, Grottes de Betharram, Gave de Pau, Pic du Jer funicular, Fort de Lourdes, and Chateau fort Musee Pyreneen.
Is it necessary to speak French to visit Lourdes with kids?
While it’s helpful to know some basic French phrases, it’s not necessary to speak French to visit Lourdes with kids. Many locals and businesses speak English, and there are also translation services available at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Is Lourdes Worth visiting?
Yes, Lourdes is definitely worth visiting, especially for Catholic families who love visiting religious sites. The town is best known for its immense significance as one of the most renowned Catholic sites in the world.
Plan your pilgrimage to Lourdes, France with Your kids now
If you’re looking for a unique and meaningful family vacation, consider planning a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. This holy site is famous for the apparitions of Our Lady to Saint Bernadette in 1858.
Today, millions of pilgrims visit Lourdes each year to pray, seek healing, and reflect on their spiritual journey.
Traveling with kids can be challenging, but this pilgrimage will benefit your family in many ways. Your children will learn about the Catholic faith and the importance of prayer, compassion, and service to others.
They will also experience the natural beauty of the Pyrenees mountain range and learn some of the history and culture of France.
To make the most of your pilgrimage, plan ahead and research the available accommodations, transportation, and activities. You can join a guided tour, attend Mass and confession, participate in the processions and rosary prayers, and visit the many chapels, fountains, and shrines.
This trip will surely be an unforgettable and transformative experience for your family.
As Catholic parents, it’s important to remember that we are not only teaching our children about our faith but also showing them how meaningful it can be when we put our love for God into practice.
Do you want to take your family on a Lourdes pilgrimage, or if you’ve been to Lourdes already, which shrines do you want to go to next? Fatima, Medjugorje, Rome, Guadalupe, Sagrada Familia? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. Who knows – your story might inspire another family’s journey!
FAMILY ADVENTURE PLANNING RESOURCES
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 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.