This sacred town in Normandy’s Calvados department hardly needs an introduction for Catholics as it’s France’s second pilgrimage site behind Lourdes.

The 19th-century Saint Thérèse spent nearly all her life in the Lisieux, first in an idyllic house with her father and then at the Carmelite convent from the age of 14. If you’re following in her footsteps there’s a smattering of Thérèse-related sites around the town. But for everybody else there’s just as much to see and do: Lisieux has a real gastronomic pedigree, making Calvados apple brandy and some of France’s most prized cheeses, while there is a welcoming zoo, Deaville's sophisticated castle and luxurious resort just a breeze away. Discover the best things to do in Lisieux.

1. Basilica of St Thérèse

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This church built in St Thérèse’s honor is the second most-visited pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes. To get a picture of the fervor that Thérèse generated in the first decades of the 20th century, the entire cost of this church was paid for by donations.

There was enough to start work in 1929 and following a pause, during the war, the decorative neo-Byzantine basilica with a 45-meter high campanile was consecrated in 1951. The crypt is the essential bit and was the first section completed; it is furnished with sculpted marble and mosaics depicting the stages of Thérèse’s life.

It was here that Lisieux’s few remaining locals took refuge during the Allied bombing in 1944.

 

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