Lumières in Lyon

Today in Paris, it is cold.  Life must continue however, so I bundled up and ran around my neighborhood doing my errands.  As I walked out of the grocery store, I was greeted by snowflakes, big fluffy ones, lightly falling and melting as soon as they hit the ground.  It felt like Christmastime again.  In Colorado this year, we had snow on Christmas Eve which made the holiday perfect.

I'm not happy about the cold.  About two weeks ago, I felt the days getting longer, temperatures were slowly creeping up and I thought we were over the winter hump.  But we're not,  a few more weeks of sweaters, knit hats, one of three pairs of boots on constant rotation and the desire to eat and drink endless amounts of hot chocolate.  So here I sit, bundled up in the house, watching the snowflakes fall quietly outside of my window and reliving one of my favorite winter moments - the Fête des lumières, or Festival of Lights in Lyon, eastern France. My London friend, Sharon, discovered and planned this little getaway. Sadly she couldn't join us but it was a weekend well spent with her boyfriend, Simon and my travel buddy, Maraya.

The city is beautiful at night, even without fancy lights.  But you can see candles in the windows, which is special for the festival.

Now for the historians among my vast readership of 40 and for those who trust everything Wikipedia says, apparently this festival expresses gratitude to the holy Mary for having delivered the town from the plague in the 17th century.  Back in the day, on December 8, a procession would make its way to the Basilica of Fourvière to light candles and give offerings in the name of Mary.  In the 19th century, the ceremony was cancelled due to a storm.  However, the skies cleared and the people of Lyon, who were eagerly anticipating the event, spontaneously lit candles in their windows and descended to the streets to illuminate the statue of Mary.

Today, as many things, the festival is highly commercialized - 4 million tourists come, for the event and at points, you are walking through the street like a penguin, slowly shuffling, shuffling, shuffling.  But it's still magical, and the tradition of lighting candles in the windows still continues, which you see in the picture above.

It was also a nostalgic moment for me.  Life brought me back to Lyon, the place where my French adventure started in the summer of 1998.  I spent a month living in an old silk factory in the Croix Rousse neighborhood with the 3 boys of the Dutertre family.  This experience sparked a desire in me to do exactly what I'm doing now.   It's amazing how life can work out that way.

But enough of my musings, here are some of my favorite installations (and the full album is here).  All photos are courtesy of Maraya Argueta.  I thought it was a good time to remember my camera, but forget my camera battery...that way I could keep my gloves on and just smile when Maraya told me to.

One of the first installations we see, it's fun!

The dragon is surreal and really cool.

Just proving I was there, basking in light bulb illumination.

Just magical, isn't it?

One of my favorite installations, the lamps would change color in different patterns.  Here is a video of it.

Cute hearts illuminate the length of the street.

I think this was my favorite installations because it's clever.  People donated their old lamps and at the end of the festival, they give the lamps away to new owners.

Simple installation - colored flags, shining lights and reflection in the river.

Last installation of the night (1am), giant fish floating over the river.  A great end to a beautiful evening!


  1. fait nous signe si tu reviens a Lyon

    1. Antoine! Comment tu as trouve mon post?!?? Je voulais vous contacter, mais je n'ai plus votre coordonnees! (Et je t'ai pas trouver sur FB.) Je suis a Paris maintenant aussi, si tu es dans le coin. Merci d'avoir laisse le petit mot.

  2. tu peux me téléphoner au 06 70 12 39 95
    j'habite en ardeche, paul a nice et émile a paris. sinon mais parents ont toujours leur maison a lyon.
    si tu veuxvenir en ardeche pôur des vacances t'es toujours la bienvenue. ca me ferai plaisir de te revoir un de ces 4


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