Sunday, 8 December 2013

Fairytale Lights of Lyon 2013!

The Fête des Lumières is held every year in Lyon, the town I grew up, on December 8th.

Although originally held for one night only it now lasts three whole nights and has become a spectacular event. Gone the days when people lit up candles in coloured glass 'lumignons' and placed them on their window sills before going for a stroll in the old town and up to Fourvière, the basilica dedicated to the Virgin Marie on top of the hill.

Although there is some confusion regarding the origins of the Fête des Lumières, there is no doubt that it was always dedicated to the Virgin Marie, under whose protection the city was placed in the Middle Ages. Even though some claim that the festival dates back from the Renaissance, when the Virgin Marie answered the prayers of the people of Lyon and saved the city from the plague which affected the rest of the country, the tradition really started on 8th December 1852. when a statue dedicated to the Virgin was inaugurated on top of the Fourvière hill. The celebrations planned for the event had to be cancelled because of a violent storm, so when the storm finally stopped later in the evening, the people lit up candles they placed on their window sills and took to the street to celebrate. The tradition has carried on until this day.
Nowadays extravagant light displays are held throughout the town. Just look at these from the 2013 edition of the Festival!

It's just like being in a fairy tale, isn't it?

This one is called 'Le Petit Prince',  no doubt as a reference to the author Saint-Exupéry.
I would have loved to return to Lyon for the weekend and see all this for myself, but I can't help feeling a little nostalgic for the days when all we needed to be happy were little candles on the window sills. It was such good fun to meet up with friends, have a drink in cafés and stroll through the old town and try to avoid the flour and eggs people used to throw down at passers-by through their windows!


  1. Wonderful photos, Marie. I've never visited Lyon during this festival, but I've heard how beautiful it is. It would have been lovely to see it in the olden days, when the windows were lit with candles. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you for visiting Helena. Yes, it is true that the new light shows are beautiful and magical, but somehow I think it was just as magical when there were only tiny candles flickering on the window sills. At least that's the way I remember it...