Young pilgrims walk from Paris to Chartres
In 2010, almost 51 million pilgrims and tourists visited sanctuaries and religious sites in France, according to World Organization of Tourism, “Le Figaro” reported.
“There’s an evident and deep trend towards spiritual tourism”, said Géraldine Ballot, president of the French Association Villes-Sanctuaires.
The annual growth in the last few years has been between 5 and 10%, depending on the site.
The two most visited sanctuaries are Our Lady of Lourdes (over 7 million each year) and the Abbey of Mount Saint Michael (3,5 million).
A cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris has 13 million annual visitors, although many of them are not pilgrims. The Church of Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre in Paris has 10.5 million visitors.
A cathedral of Chartres and the sanctuary of Our Lady of Rocamadour are each visited by 1.5 million people.
Student pilgrims arrive at Mount Saint-Michael
France has more than 50,000 religious buildings that are visited by people who are interested in them for spiritual reasons.
It’s noteworthy that the number of people involved in this spiritual visiting are far greater than those who actually practice their faith. The exception to this are the most famous sites of Lourdes, Lisieux, Paray-le-Monial and Rue du Bac, where pilgrims go only for religious reasons.
The greatest increase is found among the non-believers and the fallen away. What we are seeing is a trend of people who are tired of today’s modern lifestyle and who seek a spiritual option to fill the void of their daily lives.
“Pilgrimages are one facet of this emerging phenomenon”, Geraldine added. Nearly 500,000 people participate in pilgrimages that last 5 days and nights on average.
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