Yeah, so, Lourdes last weekend was a lot of fun. During the summer, six million people show up. During the winter, there is NO ONE there except for six American college students (i.e., us).
Every single building was a hotel, and if it wasn't a hotel, it was a store that sold holy water bottles (all the same: white, with blue lids, some of them being shaped like the Virgin Mary), and if it wasn't either of those, it was a pizza restaurant.
The first day, we went to Chateau Fort, which has something to do with Henri IV or the Crusades or something. We were the only people there, so one of the guys who worked there was more than happy to give us our own personal tour.
(Candy, Valerie, Jackie and me at the Chateau Fort).
(A view of Lourdes from the top of Chateau Fort).
(Flag with interesting sky).
Chateau Fort was the highlight for me. The rest of the town is famous because of Saint Bernadette, so there are a bunch of churches, but they were unbelievably tacky/not aesthetically pleasing. I don't think it's because they're located in a popular destination -- the Vatican manages to stay classy looking. I think it's because the two/three big ones we went into were built around the turn of the 20th Century, so....maybe they just didn't built nice churches then? I don't know. The older one had too much arbitrary stuff in the wall, in a bad way, and the big sanctuary church looked like a megachurch, with a lot of pink and blue mosaics. The last one we went to couldn't choose what time period it wanted to be associated with, I think. There were oldish looking stained glass windows on one level (still turn of the Century, I think), but a little higher up there were MASSIVE super modern looking ones that didn't match at ALL. And this one had a combination of gothic and romanesque arches that bothered me. Anyway, my point to this story is that Bordeaux's churches are way prettier, and we don't even HAVE our own famous Saint who apparently did cool stuff here.
But I found all of the holy water stuff to be interesting. We went back to the sanctuary on our second day (it's the off season, so we had literally exhausted everything else to do). There were people carrying gallons and gallons of holy water away with them. It was weird though, because if they came from out of town were they really going to lug that stuff all the way back home? Maybe they were planning on drinking in/showering in it in their hotel rooms later or something.
(Me and Collin in front of the big sanctuary. This is actually two churches -- the tall pointy thing on top is onw, and the flat colored part in front is another. It's weird).
(Me & Valerie playing with holy water at the shrine-y thing).
It snowed the second night, which was crazy. All in all, it was an excellent trip, even if I didn't like the architecture. The friends that I traveled with turned out to be excellent travel companions, and I'll be going to Toulouse with them next weekend!