Celebrate the 160th Anniversary of the Lourdes Apparitions
A place of universal meeting and sharing, prayer and celebration of life...
Lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the small town of Lourdes is famous for the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. St. Bernadette reported the first of 18 visions of Our Lady on 11 February 1858 and this year will mark the 160th Anniversary of the Apparitions. We are preparing a comprehensive pilgrimage program including special Masses, ceremonies and processions to commemorate the anniversary and we’ll be offering numerous departures. Due to the forecasted huge demand we advise that you book well in advance to secure your place.
Lourdes is now the largest Catholic pilgrimage destination in Europe which is known as a place that offers hope and consolation to all who are in need of healing and peace. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, where the sacred grotto and the two Basilicas are located, encompasses 22 places of worship and numerous facilities for pilgrims and the sick, as well as a spring that began to flow from the spot dug by Bernadette on Our Lady’s instructions.
Joe Walsh Tours have been organizing pilgrimages to Lourdes since 1961, with early pilgrims travelling by bus and boat before flights from Ireland were introduced shortly afterwards. Today, our extensive pilgrimage program covers departures from various airports across Ireland and the UK, including a vast selection of diocesan, group, parish and individual pilgrimage options. Pilgrims can choose from a wide variety of packages, from short breaks to week-long pilgrimages , all of which are led by a Spiritual Director and coordinated locally by our highly skilled and experienced team of representatives.
Bartrés is a half day excursion which includes a visit to the village where St. Bernadette was fostered as a child and where she spent time as a shepherdess before the apparitions.
The little village of Bartrés, which has 240 inhabitants, is approximately a 20 minute drive from Lourdes. The excursion normally includes Mass which is held in the Church of St. Jean the Baptist. The Church was constructed in the 14th century of Roman style and was fortified and served as a refuge/shelter for the local people. The main part of the Church, dating from the 17th century, has remained as Bernadette would have known it and this is the Church where she prepared for her First Holy Communion. There will be the occasion to venerate a relic of St. Bernadette. You will have time to visit the farmhouse where Bernadette was fostered by Marie Aravant for 2 years as an infant and lived again when she returned to Bartrés from Lourdes at the age of 13 to help Marie Aravant with her 8 children. You will also see the grave of Marie Aravant, in the Churchyard.
Weather permitting, the excursion includes a visit to the Lake of Lourdes. During the Summer, locals like to go there and enjoy themselves with attractions such as pony rides, paddle boats and golfing or relax with an ice cream and enjoy the scenery.
» Church of St. Jean the Baptist
» A relic of St. Bernadette
» Marie Aravant's farmhouse
» Lake of Lourdes
Duration: Half day
Transport time: 20 minutes
This excursion is generally taken in the afternoon – leaving Lourdes at 1:30 p.m. and returning in time for dinner at 7:00 p.m. – and takes in a scenic drive into the Pyrenees following the River Gave to its source.
The Cirque de Gavarnie is the most famous place in the Pyrenees, with 1,400 metres (4,400 feet) and is home to the highest waterfall in Europe. The village of Gavarnie was “the last village in France” in the Middle Ages on the old pilgrim route to the tomb of St. James at Santiago de Compostela. It has long been a climbing center and has approximately 200 inhabitants.
En route to Gavarnie, you will pass by the Lavedan Valley, Argeles Gazost, St. Savin de Lavedan, Chateau of Miremont, Valley of Luz, Pic du Midi and Luz. Our representative will give a detailed history on each attraction. Whilst in Gavarnie, you will have lots of time to take a walk along the river to the Waterfall or a walk back to the statue of Our Lady of the Snows. This statue was visited and blessed by Pope Pius 12th when he came to Lourdes in 1935. There are lots of nice cafes suitable for tea and pastries or a glass of wine or an ice cream. You can visit the many craft shops and also a small perfumerie where perfumes are made from the Alpine plants.
» Scenic drive into the Pyrenees
» Cirque de Gavarnie
» Village of Gavarnie
» Statue of Our Lady of the Snows
Duration: Half day
Transport time: 45 minutes
Ibardin St. Jean de Luz
This is a full day trip into the Basque region and across the border to the Spanish village of Ibardin. The journey takes approximately 2 hours along the motorway known as “entre deux mers” or “between the two seas”, as it runs between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
En route, our representative will give a guided commentary on places of interest including Pau (birthplace of Henry IV), the Tower of Orthez (also known as the Tower of Misery), Dax (where St. Vincent de Paul studied during his early life), Bearn (which produces local wines), and Bayonne (which is the largest town in the French Basque region and is famous for its ham). You will have plenty of time for shopping in Ibardin – this area is a “tax haven” offering Spanish leather, porcelain and alcoholic spirits at considerable discounts. There will be sufficient time to indulge in retail therapy! Leaving Ibardin, we drive back to French soil and down to the village of St. Jean de Luz which is a lovely French seaside town and has been a major fishing port for centuries. It still remains one of the busiest ports in France and the principal one for landing anchovies and tuna.
St. Jean de Luz is one of the more attractive resorts on the Basque Coast, and is located about 9 miles from Biarritz. It is also famous for its beautiful linen – tablecloths, napkins etc. You will have time to spend at the beach, go shopping and visit the Church where King Louis 14th was married. A packed lunch is provided by the hotel and you will be back in time for dinner.
» Tax-free shopping in Ibardin
» Church of St John the Baptist, where King Louis XIV married Marie-Thérèse of Spain
Duration: Full day
Transport time: 2 hours
This is a half-day scenic tour into the Pyrénées, to Pont d’Espagne, part of the Pyrénées National Park which consists of 4,500 hectares. It is a very popular place for walkers going on treks into the mountains.
The journey to Pont d’Espagne takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes during which time our representative will give a guided commentary on the various places of interest. You will travel through some magnificent countryside with beautiful scenery, passing by two beautiful waterfalls and the popular ski resort of Cauterets.
Pont d’Espagne (the bridge of Spain) was built in the 19th century and used as a pathway into Spain by traders carrying their goods such as cheese, animals and wine in each direction. Upon arrival in Pont d’Espagne, for those with a sense of adventure, there is a chairlift which takes you to 1,800 metres (a 15 minute journey). You can take a 15 minute walk to the Lac de Gaube which is a glacier lake at the foot of the Vignemale mountain in the French Pyrenees. There is a great view from the chairlift and at the lake. Otherwise, you can simply sit in the café which is situated at the waterfall of Pont d’Espagne and admire the scenery. There will be a 30 minute stop at the La Raillier Thermal Springs on the return journey which is also famous for its Berlingot boiled sweets.
» Scenic drive into the Pyrénées
» Ski resort of Cauterets
» Lac de Gaube
» La Raillier Thermal Springs
Duration: Half day
Transport time: 1h 30 minutes
This is a half day cultural excursion to the Shrine of Betharram and the town of Pau.
For the past 700 or 800 years, Our Lady has been honoured here under three popular titles: Our Lady of the Star, Our Lady of the Calvary and Our Lady of Betharram. Throughout the centuries, there were many miracles and favours granted through Our Lady in Betharram. This was particularly the case during the 17th century. A legend tells how a little girl, who had fallen into the river, was saved by Our Lady holding out a branch to her – hence the local name Our Lady of the beautiful branch – in local dialect “Betharram”. You will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Betharram – an old place of pilgrimage visited by St. Bernadette. It was in Betharram that Bernadette bought the Rosary beads she had during the first apparition. St. Michael Garicoits was a Basque priest who founded the congregation of priests of the Sacred Heart (Fathers of Betharram) in the middle of the 19th century. He spent much of his life helping the poor and it was for this reason that he encouraged St. Bernadette. He was the only person to believe, from the start, in the apparition of Lourdes. He became St. Bernadette’s confessor and advisor following the apparitions.
Continue onto the city of Pau – birthplace of Henry IV of France and a town for all seasons! History, nature, pleasure, entertainment, sport. Pau is the ancient capital of Bearn and the chief town of the Atlantic Pyrenees. It is a winter and summer resort and is built on a plateau around the bed of the River Gave. Here you will have time to stroll around the very tempting boutiques or shops or visit the many places of interest including Henry IV’s castle, or the Boulevard de Pyrénées where you will find one of the finest views of the mountain range it was named after.
» Shrine of Betharram
» Henry IV's Castle
» Grottos of Betharram
Duration: Half day
Transport time: 45 minutes
Transport & Accommodation
- Flight from North America to Lourdes
- Transfer on arrival from the airport to your hotel with guide assistance
- Hotel accommodation in Lourdes for the selected number of nights
- Daily breakfast, lunch and evening meal served at hotel
- Transfer from your hotel to Lourdes Airport for return flight
- Flight from Lourdes to North America
- Luxury air-conditioned coach for all transfers and tours
- Assistance of Joe Walsh Tours guides and representatives throughout the pilgrimage and at airports
Tours & Religious Programme
- Full religious programme organised by Joe Walsh Tours and led by Spiritual Director
- Introductory tour of the Grotto Domain in Lourdes, visiting the Grotto, Baths, Basilicas and the Stations of the Cross
- Guided walking tour of Lourdes visiting places associated with the life of St. Bernadette
- Religious processions in Lourdes led by Spiritual Director: Blessing of the Sick, Blessed Sacrament and Torchlight Marian Procession
- Full services of Joe Walsh Tours guides and representatives throughout the pilgrimage
- Please call or email for more details regarding Travel Insurance
- Guided excursions from Lourdes (available to book locally; subject to minimum number of participants); see Lourdes Excursions for additional details
- A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required for booking
- Meals where not stated and in-flight catering are not included in the price
- Lourdes flights may operate into Pau Airport
- Itinerary may be subject to change; E&OE
- All bookings protected by the Commission for Aviation Regulation in Ireland (T.O. 052 | T.A. 0689) and the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK (ATOL 5163)