Monday, 4 June 2007

Shopping

You may have gathered from my previous posts: I love Lourdes. I adore the fact that when you enter the Domaine, it is like entering another world: there are boxes of candles for the torchlight procession and for the Grotto and you are just expected to be honest enough to put the money in the slot.

People do sneer at the number of shops around Lourdes which sell religious objects, and at first sight it can be a bit daunting: the first time I came I went into sensory overload with all those rosaries! However, the atmosphere is just phenomenal.

Yes, there are lots and lots of shops. And they all sell rosaries. And statues. And cases to put rosaries in. And bottles... But there is no "hard-sell" - you are allowed to come in and browse round and then walk back out again. The shops have open fronts, and it can sometimes be difficult to work out where one shop ends and another begins. The shopkeepers often stand outside chatting to one another, and you only realise that they're from different shops when someone wants to pay for a purchase and they have to break off the conversation to get to the till.

There's no sense of cut-throat competitiveness. And the prices are so very reasonable... in no way could you say that the hordes of pilgrims are being fleeced. There is also a sense of fair-play: the traffic close to the Domaine is one-way, but the direction of traffic is changed every two weeks (it changed the Friday we were there.)

And everyone is so friendly and good-humoured. I had a conversation with one shopkeeper who had seen me walking up in the town earlier in the morning, and I discussed the merits of St. Philomena with another. It's fascinating to watch the shopkeepers (and café waiters) look at a pilgrim and decide which language to start talking in. They're nearly always right.

I can't wait to go back...

4 comments:

newhousenewjob said...

Still having trouble with 'hoard' and 'horde', I see - unless the shopkeepers are keeping piles of pilgrims in their cellars... :¬)

Mac McLernon said...

LOL newhousenewjob... I've corrected it now (trust you to spot that!!)

Mark said...

Mweh; I think I would like to go to Lourdes (and no, not just to shop... ;-)

Ma Beck said...

Man, do I want to go there.
:)

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