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article imageWayward Chinese pilgrims aiming for Lourdes end up 800 km away

By Robert Myles     Jan 18, 2013 in World
Five Chinese tourists on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in the south of France found themselves in the wrong Lourdes, a church called Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes in the village of Leuhan in Brittany, north west France, 800 kilometres from their intended destination.
The five Chinese women had arrived on Sunday at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport intent on making a pilgrimage to Lourdes, way down south, near the Franco-Spanish border. The group hired a car complete with satnav but, unfortunately, the car’s over-eager GPS seems to have first highlighted Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes in Finistère (department number 29), rather than the intended destination, the Holy Shrine at Lourdes in Hautes-Pyrénées (department number 65).
As a result, the Chinese tourists, blissfully unaware that they were making a grand tour of France headed west. In fact, they headed about as far west as it is possible to go in mainland France, before this latest GPS fail became apparent. The result was that having arrived at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle near Paris, 850 kilometres (530 miles) from their intended destination of Lourdes, they ended up at a tiny village in Brittany, after an estimated seven hour drive — and Lourdes was still 800 kilometres (500 miles) distant!
The route believed to have been taken by the group of Chinese tourists - arriving at Paris (A) they ...
The route believed to have been taken by the group of Chinese tourists - arriving at Paris (A) they head off to 'Lourdes' and arrive in Leuhan, Brittany (B). The real Lourdes is at 'C' on the map.
Google Maps Screenshot
French regional Ouest-France reports, Manée Peron the owner of a bar in the Breton village of Leuhan in Finistère, as saying,
“They came to me with their printed reservation for a hotel in Lourdes, but when I saw it read ‘Lourdes 65100’ I said ‘This is not quite the same place.' They’d typed Lourdes into their car’s GPS, but without the department number, and next stop, they landed up here in Leuhan.”
Whilst Leuhan (pop. 700) has a charming local 19th century church, standing on the site of a previous place of worship which once housed a statue honouring Our Lady of Lourdes, it can’t really be compared with the world renowned Lourdes, a site of pilgrimage and healing for Roman Catholics for over 150 years. Lourdes derived its reputation from the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous on a total of eighteen occasions.
Leuhan, in contrast, merits barely more than a placeholder mention in Wikipedia, though the tale of the wayward Chinese pilgrims was headline news on Leuhan’s community website.
The community website reports that after some laboured explanations in broken English, the wayward Chinese pilgrims re-programmed their GPS and set off for the real Lourdes without even stopping for a cup of coffee.
Continued the bar-owner Manée Peron, "They were completely disoriented and quite desperate, so I thought it best not to push my luck and suggest they visit our little chapel. I don’t think they’d have welcomed the suggestion.”
There were no reports as to whether any of the Chinese tourists were wearing a St. Christopher.
More about Lourdes, Brittany, Satnav, Gps, gps fail
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