Thursday, January 12, 2012

Twisted Vagabondage Tale From Lourdes

Typically, I only have praise for France. French fashion, French cuisine, French art, French film. Even French perfume - magnifique! However, if you think the French are immune to bad taste, think again. The French do have an aesthetic slip-up now and then. If you don't believe me, just go to Lourdes. This town is located in the South of France, but not by way of San Tropez. Look a little more inland to find Lourdes. It's just above the Spanish border, nestled in the French Pyrenees.

Take a walk up one of the town's winding, cobblestone streets and get assaulted by the high-pitched religious music blaring out of speakers affixed to the tops of buildings. While you're at it, buy a packet of sugared almonds that proclaim “I prayed for you at the Grotte de Lourdes” or a snow globe where little bits of white plastic forever fall on the shoulders of La Virgen like tiny flakes of holy dandruff.

The main attraction the place has to offer is the Grotte de Lourdes. In 1858, a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous, gathering wood in a cave, saw a vision of Virgin Mary in a crevice of rock. Today, streams of believers swarm the cave for a taste of the spring water oozing out of the rock wall, with hopes for a miracle. The Basilica of the Rosary, which is just above the Grotte, was designed by Leopold Hardy in 1899 to look like a big, gothic Cinderella castle.

I guess that's why I traveled to Lourdes: I was in search of a miracle. It was in the wake of a particularly-intense period of heavy partying in my life that I found myself shacked up in a modest hotel room with only a nun for concierge. Voila, a miracle did happen. The only rowdy parties I attend now are with puppets and adults dressed in furry outfits. I'm not talking about some perverted fervert fete, so get your mind out of the gutter. I'm talking about the kind of rowdiness you get when you put twenty three-year-olds together in the same room, high on cake and ice cream. So, next time you're in Lourdes, take a swill from the algae-ridden spring yourself. You never know what miracles might happen.

Lara Sterling authors Twisted Vagabondage Tales for travelers who like it rough. She is prettier than Vagabonding author Rolf Potts (though Rolf is very pretty) and could kick his ass (though only if he'd like that). She has written for Playboy and Larry Flynt Publications but now hosts an online radio show and blogs at

1 comment:

  1. The basilica looks rather like a Disney production. Which is not a good thing.

    And the French do have the occasional tacky streak... hence their adoration of Jerry Lewis.