France continues to amaze me with its vibrant artistic culture. First, with Nuit Blanche, and now, Lyon’s Fête des Lumieres. I had no idea what either of those two were before coming here…it was only by word of mouth. After I saw pictures of Lyon’s light festival, I booked my tickets there immediately, without hesitation! I knew it would be during my exam weeks…but oh well! haha. To be honest, before heading to Lyon this past weekend, I was a bit worried about the workload I have for finals, and, I had actually thought about cancelling the trip…but now that I’ve been there, haha I think I would’ve only slapped myself had I not gone.
Fête des Lumieres originated when Lyon was struck by plague and the city wanted to pay tribute to Mary if the town was spared from the plague. Since then, there has been a certain procession to the Basilica of Fourvière Notre Dame to make offerings. This event marks the day Lyon was consecrated to Virgin Mary. Ever since, a solemn procession makes its way to the Basilica of Fourvière on this day to light candles and give offerings in the name of Mary. The event thus commemorates the day Lyon was consecrated to the Virgin Mary.
This unique Lyonnaise tradition made the city extremely crowded at night. It was hard to move around and get to different view points, but the atmosphere was great! People of all ages gathered in this small city just to see the beautiful lights turn on. Grandmas and grandpas strolling hand in hand, newlyweds with their baby strollers, and five-year olds whof were just there to munch on street food… but the atmosphere pretty great, despite having to move through crowds and literally taking half a step every minute haha
The festival started at 5:30-6pm and lasted until midnight or 1am, depending on which day. Can you imagine a city being fully awake for those 6 hours? In France, unless it’s a restaurant, everything closes by 7. Also, it was coooooolllld. So yes, gloves, hats, jackets, boots, the whole set was needed. And yet, people still stayed out.
Don’t let the Festival of Lights overshadow Lyon the city itself though! The city is small, but still worth the time to walk around. I loved Vieux Lyon and of course, the Fourviere Basilica. The cobble-stoned streets of Vieux Lyon reminded me of Colmar. A bit crowded because of other tourists, the place has a lot of local boutiques, old restaurants, and bakeries selling local specialties (brioche aux pralines is their local specialty).
Place de Terreaux has the famous Fontaine Bartholdi. Beautiful creation, and I have been a fan ever since visiting his museum in Colmar.
Also, when you are in Lyon, you must, without a doubt eat at a bouchon! I was given a handy website to find real, traditional Lyonnais bouchons. Prepare yourself for some legit carbs! Not the place to diet, it’s the place to give up yourself completely to the delicious, mouth-watering (guilt-inducing), and rich foods. I used that website and found La Tête de Lard near the Opera house. (the other two previous places we had also wanted from the website were fully booked…for two days in a row. And this one could only take us at 9:30pm).
We were there at 8pm, and obviously they couldn’t take us since the kitchen reopens again at 9:30. We also didn’t want to go outside and walk in the cold on empty stomaches, so we stayed in side. Thank goodness we did because they gave us complimentary glasses of rosé with fried pig fat. Yup…fried pig fat. OMG so delicious.
This was one memorable trip for me. Stayed up until the wee hours in the morning and had fatty foods for two days in a row. I can really say I got the whole package this trip. Both food and culture wise. Also, shout out to my friend for letting me crash in her dorm. Five years later, we finally met in France. We are two lucky girls…