The towering basilica that dominates this small village is the most recent building raised here in St. Anne's honor. After the French sailors' first modest wooden chapel (1658) was swept away by a flood, another chapel was built on higher ground. Floods, fires, and the ravages of time dispatched later buildings, until a larger structure was erected in 1887. In 1926, it, too, lay in ruins, gutted by fire. The present basilica is constructed in stone, following an essentially neo-Romanesque scheme, and was consecrated on July 4, 1976.
Inside the front doors, look for the two columns dressed with racks of canes -- presumably from people cured of their ailments and no longer in need of assistance -- that go 9m (30 ft.) high. There are several Masses per day, and in the summer, daily outdoor candlelight processions at 8:15pm.
Other parts of the shrine complex include the Scala Santa Chapel (1891); the Memorial Chapel (1878), with a bell tower and altar from the late 17th and early 18th centuries, respectively; and the Way of the Cross, which is lined with life-size bronze figures depicting Christ's life. There's also a church store and the Musée Sainte-Anne, a small facility housing paintings and sculptures. The church runs the Auberge de La Basilique for visiting pilgrims. Double-occupancy rooms cost C$60.
The basilica and town are particularly busy on Ste-Anne's Novena (July 17-25) and Ste-Anne's Feast Day (July 26), days of saintly significance.