Visiting spectacular Station Square in Lourdes, France: striking, mountain vistas near the Downtown area

Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Panorama from Station Square, Lourdes
Panorama from Station Square, Lourdes | Source
Lourdes Station
Lourdes Station | Source

A window on fine, rugged scenes

Some towns and cities in France and elsewhere have really impressive — indeed, opulent — railroad station buildings. Other places have station buildings which would be frankly described as unremarkable; and in some cities the station is situated in what might be described as a far from scenic, unban area.

Lourdes, France, is different. Its Station Square (French: Place de la gare) is located in a spectacular setting. While it is within a brisk walking distance from the Downtown area of Lourdes, Station Square is also in visible proximity to the surrounding Pyreneean mountains, with views unimpeded by tall buidings.

First impressions count a great deal, and the traveller alighting at Lourdes railroad station for the first time may be forcibly struck by the sheer, advantageous setting of the town, nestling in a valley surrounded by striking topography (1).

Unlike some arid areas of southern France, the Pyrenees are well watered and from Station Square also, visible vegetation gives the impression of a lush, freshness. The non-native palm trees which have been imported only richness to the sense of entrance to a wholesome environment in harmony with nature.

It is immediately obvious that it is an ideal location for a resort.

First trains in 1866

The railroad first came to Lourdes in 1866, under the auspices of the later nationalized Compagnie des chemins de fer du Midi (Southern Railroad Company). Interestingly, this was during the reign (1852-1870) of Emperor Napoleon III, under whose régime the railroad network was expanded and many of France's public works were undertaken. Today, the TGV high speed train has considerably shortened travel times (and psychological distances) between Lourdes and Paris, making scenes such as the one in the above photo an ever closer reality to residents of France's historic capital and urban centre.

Lourdes is located in France's Hautes-Pyrénées department; its railroad station is at 33, avenue de la gare.

August 6, 2013

Map location of Hautes-Pyrénées department, France
Map location of Hautes-Pyrénées department, France | Source

Note

(1) Depending on the weather, visitors may also be struck by the fresh mountain air as they arrive.

Also worth seeing

In Lourdes itself, a good vantage point for views over the town is from the city's Medieval castle, from which the river known as the Gave de Pau, which passes through the town, may be viewed to good effect, as well the 19th century Basilica.

Pau (distance: 44 kilometres); Pau's castle has historic links with the Navarre kings.

...

How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ) (Paris-Lourdes road distance: 830 kilometres), from where there are also air links to Toulouse; car rental is available at Paris and Toulouse airports. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services from Paris to Lourdes and to Toulouse. For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, Ryanair flies from London Stansted Airport to Carcassone (Aéroport de Carcassonne), from where car rental is available. You are advised to check for up to date information with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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