Up here in La Chateau fort de Lourdes, or Lourdes Castle, where eagles once flew, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the pilgrims below.
But Lourdes Castle was here for 1100 years already when Bernadette Soubirous went digging around in the grotto.
Continuing my Castles around the world series, today it’s the turn of Lourdes Castle.
And Our Lady had already made her presence felt in 778AD to an emissary… Turpin (no, not that one), the bishop of Puy-en-Velay.
And more importantly a travelling companion of Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, and future Holy Roman Emperor.
Who just happened to be returning from fighting the Saracens and stopped off to try to recapture the castle of Mirambei from the Moorish chief Murat.
Still with me.
Murat though was a stubborn son of a Moor and wouldn’t give in to a mere mortal like Charley boy.
It was only when an eagle intervened and dropped a fish at Murat’s feet that things started moving at pace.
Murat hurled the fish down at Charley’s soldiers and mocked them by saying he had thousands in his cistern.
A bit Monty Python, methinks.
Of course all it needed was for Turpin to suggest to Murat that if he wouldn’t surrender to Charley, a mere mortal, he should to Our Lady of Puys.
Which he did, agreeing to being baptised and taking the Christian name of Lorus.
All of this you can discover with a trip up to the chateau.
Spend a morning up here. You won’t regret it.
Swing on the drawbridge (you know you want to) before checking out the various different rooms where Medieval life is played out.
You’ll see pantries, drinking dens and vessels, a chapel and ramparts which are all staples of your everyday castle.
But good fun all the same,
But what makes Lourdes Lourdes is Bernadette (and Our Lady of course).
Bernie is up among the Botanic Gardens, not where I expected to see her, but I naturally jumped the rope (don’t, it’s interdit).
And got my photo taken,
And if and if all that’s not enough here’s a model village too.
And this is when I went to Lourdes looking for a miracle… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/
For Lourdes Castle €7.50 www.lourdes-visite.com
Ryanair flies to Lourdes twice a week from Dublin over the summer season. Return flights €120, but look out for offers. Visit www.ryanair.com.
Next week: Neuschwanstein (Disney inspiration).