Lourdes france

The Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes, or the Domain, a major Catholic pilgrimage site

Welcome to our very first blog post from Garderes Retreats! We can’t wait to share news, recipes, tips and much more from our slice of heaven in Gascony, South West France.

This inaugural post about a visit to Lourdes is by one of our recent guests, professional photographer Jane Burkinshaw. Jane is running a Mindful Photography Retreat here with me in September of this year and came to stay recently on a working holiday.


Hi, I’m Jane Burkinshaw. I’m very excited to be running photography workshops at Garderes with Kathryn and was very happy to visit this stunning location earlier this month. It really is a photographer’s paradise, a rustic french manor house in an unbelievably peaceful setting. Don’t take my word for it, you can see for yourself by browsing the website.

Although you may find that you don’t want to leave the tranquility of Garderes, there is much to explore in the Midi-Pyrenees region. Our first choice was to visit Lourdes, which is just an hour away by car. We had our first visual treat as we turned out of the gates of Garderes onto a winding, single track road – a panoramic vista of the Pyrenees in the distance.

Panorama of the Pyrenees from outside the gates of Garderes

Lourdes is in the foothills of the Pyrenees and it was a lovely drive, watching these magnificent mountains growing ever bigger. As Lourdes is a world heritage site we expected it to be extremely busy and difficult to park, but we were pleasantly surprised to find it was relatively quite on a Thursday afternoon. A few more practical points: it’s free to look round outside and inside, there are free loos and you can fill your water bottles with delicious holy water for free too!

I’ll let the images speak for themselves from this point. The mosaics are spectacular and the views from the top of the sanctuary are stunning.

Mosaics at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary

View from the top of the Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes

The Grotto of the Apparitions

It’s also well worth extending your visit to Lourdes by driving a little further into the Pyrenees and getting a little closer to the mountains. We visited a beautiful town called Vallée Argelès-Gazost, where we were lucky enough to see the start of the summer solstice celebrations.

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