The spiritual centre of Lourdes is the subterranean grotto where Bernadette Soubirous experienced her visions in 1858. From the Porte St-Michel, a broad boulevard sweeps towards the gilded spires of the Basilique du Rosaire and the Basilique Supérieure.

Underneath is the fabled Grotte de Massabielle, where people queue for hours to enter and take a blessed dip in the cave’s icy-cold baths, while other pilgrims content themselves by lighting candles of remembrance outside.

From Palm Sunday to mid-October, nightly torchlight processions start from the Massabielle Grotto at 9pm, while at 5pm there’s the Procession Eucharistique (Blessed Sacrament Procession) along the Esplanade des Processions.