Lisieux is considered to be the second town of pilgrimage in France. Sainte-Thérèse-de-l‘Enfant-Jésus lived at the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, where she is buried.
Lisieux is world-famous thanks to Therese Martin, better known as Sainte-Thérèse-de-l'Enfant-Jésus. Lisieux is considered to be the second town of pilgrimage in France with some 700,000 visitors each year who go to see the Basilica built in her honour (the biggest church built in France in the 20th century).
Lisieux has retained many tokens of its rich past. It was the seat of a Bishopric almost from the birth of Normandy until the French Revolution. During that period the town was administered by the Bishop-Counts, who influenced the town's architecture for centuries. The area known as the "Canonical Quarter" dates from that period, and includes the Cathedral (one of the first in the Norman Gothic style), the Episcopal Palace, the hôtel du Haut Doyenné, the Bishop's Palace Garden and the canonical houses...
In the footsteps of Sainte-Thérèse: born in Alençon on 2nd January 1873, Therese lived at Les Buissonnets when her mother died. The house contains mementos of Therese's childhood. She lived there from the age of 4 1/2 to 15 years and 3 mois (the age at which she entered the convent). At the Carmelite convent, the Chapel has the Saint's reliquary and the Room of Relics contains souvenirs of her daily life. The "Diorama de Sainte-Therese" retraces the main events in her life, with wax figures. The Basilique Sainte Thérèse is one of the largest religious edifices built in the 20th century, and was consecrated on 11th July 1954. The crypt with its three side isles, and the 300 foot-high Dome, are open to visitors. The exhibition "le Carmel de Sainte-Thérèse" presents the history and the life of the Carmelites nuns.
Worth a visit
- The Basilica
- The Cathedral Saint-Peter : Built between the end of the 12th century and the middle of the 12th century, the Cathedral holds the tomb of Bishop Cauchon. Therese Martin went to Mass in this cathedral.
- Palais of Justice : Adjacent to the Cathedral, it is in the former Episcopal palace, in Louis Xlll style.
- Musée d'art et d'histoire (Museum of Art and History) displays popular art and traditions of the region. It contains an important iconography of old Lisieux and the Pays d'Auge.
- Saint-Jacques church has exhibitions in summer. expositions en saison
- The Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet : "The Wonder of the Pays d'Auge" is now owned by the town of Lisieux. This little fortress nestling in the bottom of a valley is a veritable gem, with its coloured stone and green-varnished bricks. Built in the 16th century, it is one of the most precious examples of architecture in the Pays d'Auge in the Renaissance period. The interior is embellished with 18th and 19th century furniture and 16th century fresques. Numerous drawings and paintings come from the Riesener collection, one of whose representatives was a cousin of Delacroix.
- L'hôtel du Haut Doyenné : a very fine 18th century building in stone and brick in a classic style. It was the former residence of the "Haut Doyen", the second most important religious personality after the Bishop.
CERZA animal park: (at Hermival les Vaux) 500 wild animals in an area of over 50 hectares (123 acres). A Safari Train takes visitors on tours of the park.
The Domaine Saint- Hippolyte: (in Saint Martin de la Lieue) site oriented towards the discovery of local and traditional products ("produits du terroir"). Classed as an Exceptional Taste Site ("Site Remarquable du Goût"), it allows visitors to learn all about the production of Norman cheeses.
Dates for your diary
- Begining of March : Tree and plant fair
- Every Wednesday in July and August : Market for local products, and free concert
- 1st Sunday in August : Foire au Picots (Lace Fair - one of the oldest events in Lisieux)
- 15 August : procession of the feast of the Virgin of the smile.
- Last Sunday in September : feast of Saint Therese, procession and display of relics. Centre pilgrimage which owes its world-wide fame to Sainte-Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus.
Normandy Far from Ordinary Experiences related to religious heritage: see the list
Not to be missed