WITH the wildest rumours circulating on the number of pilgrims expected to visit Lourdes next year—one usually responsible agency has casually announced that there will be 10.000.000—a straight look at the accommodation position is necessary.
The little town which even some years after the death of St. Bernadette had only 5,000 inhabitants, can now offer accommodation for about 40,000 people.
But, the authorities expect anything up to 100,000 people to cram the town on any one day in July and August next year—the busiest months when the National Pilgrimages are at their height.
It is possible that traffic, with the exception of ambulances may be slopped through the centre of the town during these months.
What, then, arc your chances of joining a pilgrimage next year? How, according to your age, health and means should you go about it? First of all a few warnings:
ON YOUR OWN?
DON'T unless you are young, tough, and have had some experience abroad—or are prepared to rough it the whole way in 100 per cent. pilgrim style, go on your own.
Individuals will not get any reduction in travel costs and you may have to pay very heavily for your accommodation—if you can find any.
DON'T, if possible, travel to Lourdes alone or in a very small party during July, August, and early September—the busiest times when pilgrims will throng the whole area in swirling masses.
DO remember before you go to check your tickets and passport. Do remember to take soap and, for women, a mantilla or scarf, long-sleeved dress, blouse or cardigan; light but weatherproof mac— the rain can he extremely wet in Lourdes at any time of the year! AND — BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS.
HOW . . . ?
INA months now travel agencies, airlines, pilgrim groups have been competing with each other for blocks of accommodation, for pilgrim trains, air licences and even dfocrausxpace on ships calling at Bor
Many pilgrimages are already fully booked for some dates.
You can travel by land, sea and air with every variety of Pilgrimage calling at many famous shrines, travelling to Lourdes only, or combining a pilgrimage and holiday.
If you really cannot afford an advertised pilgrimage and wish to stay at The City of the Poor, write quickly to Cite Secours, Rohe Postale No. 6, Lourdes, France, enclosing a letter of recommendation from your parish priest. There is also accommodation for 20 priests.
Many of the following agents will accommodate whole parish groups who may wish to charter a whole plane or part of a train. Most advertised pilgrimages have a priest leader accompanying them.
THE NATIONAL PILGRIMAGES
THE SOCIETY OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES announces that the NATIONAL PILGRIMAGES will take place from May 12-20 and September 22-30.
THE CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION are, as usual, making arrangements for the DIOCESAN PILGRIMAGES. It is doubtful whether these pilgrimages will be able to take more than their usual quota of sick people because of the lack of accommodation at the two hospitals in Lourdes.
A ER LINGUS are already certain ' of breaking all traffic records
on the Dublin-Lourdes route. Already, return flights have been provided for 50.000 passengers (25,000 each way) Viscount aircraft will be used almost exclusively on these routes. 200 groups involving 12,000 pilgrims have already chartered planes including " Hospital Viscounts". On some peak days in April. August and September this firm will be operating as many as 12 return trips per day. On these days therefore it will be quite possible for people to make day trips to the Shrine with up to 14 hours in Lourdes. Viscount's time for the single trip DublinOssun (for Lourdes) is three hours against 35-40 hours by the fastest means of surface transport.
BRITISH EUROPEAN AIRWAYS will hire you a Pioneer aircraft (26-28 passengers) for £575 from London; £720 from Liverpool; £660 from Bristol, or £795 from Newcastle. (Day Return).
CATHEDRAL TOURING AGENCY OF LIVERPOOL will run inclusive daily flights (Monday to Friday) departing Speke Airport. Eight days in Lourdes with spiritual director and courier. 3334 gns. Departures from other centres at small extra cost. July and August flights booked up. Vacancies in June, May, September and October. Four flights daily will probably run from May to October, Monday to Friday, and in addition four flights each week for a combined pilgrimage (31 days in Lourdes) and holiday (8 days in St. Jean de Luz) at about 33 gns.
CATHOLIC TRAVEL ASSOCIATION. Kccp off July, August and early September they plead while offering 31 departure dates for their nine-day " no night travel" pilgrimage which has three nights in Paris, five days in Lourdes. Approx. 38-40 gns. Or, 14 departure dates for an extended 10-day tour of the shrines of France by coach at about 40 gns. Individuals and parties catered for.
CONTRAVEL have a novel idea in a flight to Basle on a Sunday for a 14-day holiday with the first few days touring the shrines of Switzerland followed by the shrines of Western France including Lourdes. Flying home from Basle. They are also doing a combined Lourdes and San Sebastian tour with a visit to Loyola. About 38 gns.
FRENCH RAILWAYS. The introduction of a special Tourist Rate of Exchange is reflected in railway prices. A 2nd class return ticket from London to Lourdes, Including steamer, is likely to he reduced by about 30s. Pilgrimage trains get 40-50 per cent. reduction. Parties of 10 people can get 30 per cent. off, or 40 per cent. for 25 people. Family tickets are available with 75 per cent. reduction from the third member. Tourist tickets and road-rail tickets are worth enquiring about.
GLOBAL TOURS are running a 14-day coach tour through France and Spain which includes two nights (one day) in Lourdes.
HAROLD INGHAM, of Harrow, will have about a dozen parties spaced through the season. Details available shortly.
THE LANCASHIRE AIRCRAFT CORPORATION can transport parties from 15 to 200