Lourdes is a good base for exploring the Pyrénées. You can take tours into the snowcapped mountains across the border to Spain or go horseback riding near Lac de Lourdes, 3km (1 3/4 miles) northwest of town. Among the outstanding sites is Bagnères-de-Bigorre, a renowned thermal spa 23km (14 miles) east of Lourdes on D935.

Visit Pic du Jer, a rocky peak 933m (3,061 ft.) above sea level, high over the surrounding land formations, for a view of the surrounding countryside. To reach its summit, board the Pic de Jer funicular, which departs from the south side of esplanade des Proceswinos in the center of Lourdes. Round-trip fares are 9€ for adults and 6.50€ for students and children ages 6 to 14. At the summit, you'll see the entrance to some caves, Les Grottes de Jer (tel. 05-62-94-00-41 for both the funicular and the grottoes), a sightseeing attraction. Entrance to the grottoes costs 3.50€ adults and 2.50€ students and children 6 to 12. Hours are daily 2 to 6pm in July September and October; 9:30am to 7pm in August; and 2 to 6pm Friday to Sunday October to June.

Farther afield, 23km (14 miles) southeast of Lourdes in the hamlet of Aste, you'll find even bigger and much more dramatic caves, Les Grottes de Médous (tel. 05-62-91-78-46). An underground river formed them, along with numerous stalactites and stalagmites. Reach them by following signs to les Grottes de Médous along D26. During July and August, they're open daily 9am to noon and 2 to 6pm; April to June and September to mid-October, they're open daily 8:30 to 11:30am and 2 to 5:30pm. Admission costs 7.60€ for adults and 3.80€ for children 5 to 10.

If you're in the mood for a full-fledged outing from Lourdes into the Pyrénées, drive south along D921 to a mountainous national park, Cirque de Gavarnie (Heights of Gavarnie), whose summits reach 1,350m (4,429 ft.). The distance from Lourdes to the center of the region is 52km (32 miles).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.