Friday, September 30, 2005

To Lourdes

Route 
Departed Nice at 7am, passing Marseilles Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse and entering Lourdes around 4pm. The stretch from Narbonne to Toulouse was particularly painful as there was something of a demonstration by hundreds of truck drivers doing a “go slow” for miles and miles.

en route to GrottoWe checked into the local Ibis hotel, which if nothing else had secure parking. The place smells rather damp and mouldy and the “free wifi” turns out to be “you’re free to pay Orange huge sums for hourly access to their radio mast”.

Half a block away and a quick staircase descent is the route route to the "Grotto" where Bernadette had her "visions" in 1858. The deluded shepherdess would not recognise the area which is now a Catholic Graceland or Las Vatgas. There must be miles of shops selling bottles for holding water from the grotto, plus innumerable other bits of trinketry for the faithful.

The road is jammed with wheelchair-borne pilgrims, often pushed by nuns. The water from the source is there to cure every ailment or need, except foolishness or false hope. Earthbound? Starch your wimple with Lourdes water and take to the air!
Alliance Catholique Fort & Museum of the Pyrenees 
Jerusalem in LourdesIf you're not already lame, then impatient drivers on the Rue de la Grotto will happily mow you down, and drag your bleeding body to the end of the road, so that you can be revived by the waters and shop your way back to the top.

There are probably thousands of such “visions” and “visitations” seen by people every day in places like India, but it takes the money and political clout of the church to build an industry around a site like this. Bah humbug.
Lourdes fountain20050929 Nice to Lourdes (4)

We could not pass through the outer gates to the zone around the Grotto – truly heavenly creatures like Bondi are not permitted. I’m sure they don’t want any competition!

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