A couple of weeks ago, I headed to Lyon with a group from my school to see the Le Fête des Lumières-- the festival of lights.
Of course, anytime anyone said 'festival of lights' I'd break out in Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song. Hanukkah iss.....a festival of lights....
Anyway! The festival of lights in Lyon has nothing to do with the Jewish holiday. Rather, it's a really cool weekend where they set up fabulous light shows that play on buildings strewed throughout Lyon, France's third largest city.
We started off in the main square in downtown Lyon-- they projected a cute animated movie on the Ferris wheel, complete with lights and fireworks.
I was told that Lyon saw 4 million extra tourists just during the festival of lights weekend and I believe that. There was an unbelievable amount of people at the festival. Everyone was wearing black and it was incredibly hard to keep up with people-- at some points we had to hold hands like kids in order to not lose each other in the crowd.
The streets of Lyon aren't terribly big to begin with, but the flux of people stretched from building to building in some parts-- pushing you shoulder to shoulder with the next person.
Not all of the shows were as grand as the first one. Some were more modest, just lights, no images for example.
It was rather cold so we all grabbed a cup of my new favorite drink-- vin chaud. Literally, hot wine, though it translates to mulled wine. I never knew what mulled wine was, but I love vin chaud. It's delicious, sweet, and it warms you up quickly on cold nights.
As the night wore on we started to nervously glance at our watches. Our school was taking us back in a bus-- if we missed the bus, it'd be too late to catch the last train home. The massive crowds made getting anywhere take five times longer than normal.
We had heard that the city hall put on the best light show so we tried to head in that direction to see if we could see it quickly enough to get back to our meeting spot on time. We literally got stuck in a street, surrounded on all sides by a huge crowd of people. The mass of bodies had the added benefit of warding off the cold so it wasn't as cold as it had been the whole night.
We couldn't move forward, we couldn't move backwards, and we weren't sure where we were even going. Every couple of minutes the crowd would inch forward a foot or so and then abruptly stop. Time was marching forward without us and we worried that we wouldn't be able to get out of the crowd with enough time to get to our meeting point.
One of the chicks who lived in the apartments lining the street we were stuck on looked out at the huge crowd of people stuck in the street and decided to spice it up. Opening her window she started blaring some upbeat French song that everyone knew the words to. We all started cheering; it made the wait more tolerable as the crowd turned into a small dance party-- even if there wasn't enough free space to do anything but kind of sway back and forth.
Eventually we reached the end of the street and saw that we were right at city hall in time for the light show. It was, by far, the best light show in the entire city. It spanned two grand buildings and was intricately beautiful.
After the light show ended, we linked hands, put my fastest friend in the front, and set about running our way through the dense crowd to get the our meeting point in time to catch the bus. My friend was amazing at finding the little spaces between people and had us through the seemingly impenetrable crowd in no time at all. Not only did we catch the bus, we also had time to grab some churros.
Stay tuned for more posts coming soon! We've been longing around the house so I've had time to sort and edit my photos and write those blog posts I'd been putting off for weeks.
Thanks for reading!