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Over the weekend of Dec 8-9, we went to Lyon for the annual Fête des Lumières. The Festival of Lights is a uniquely Lyonnaise tradition which requires that every house place candles along the outsides of all the windows.  Dating from 1643, it was meant to be a tribute to Mary if Lyon was spared of the plague.

The light show at Place des Terreaux was one of the main event of the festival and it has got to be the most crowded place.  The atmosphere in the square reminded me of new year’s eve in Times Square, NYC. Hope you enjoy the video – I(Chris) stood in the cold, raised my arm up for 6 minutes to make this.

The Place des Terreaux is located in the centre of Lyon on the Presqu’île between the river Rhône and the river Saône. Although it was cold, it was not snowing or raining on Saturday night.


Much of the show was built on having giant dancers interacting with architectural elements on the facade of the buildings and the idea of light being something tangible that can be handled by the dancers.


The square is bordered on the east by the Lyon City Hall (below).

On the south of the square is the Palais Saint-Pierre and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. This building has the largest facade which served as the main space for the show.


The last time we came to Lyon, we had a leisurely sunday brunch on the patio of this museum – see this post: Les Terrasses Saint-Pierre.


We saw the light show twice at two different locations in the square, once in front of the entrance to the Musée des Beaux-Arts (where the video was shot) and then at the northwest corner in the direction of our apartment.


All the hotels were booked for the weekend but our friend F went to school in Lyon and has local friends who found us an apartment within 5 minutes walk from the Place des Terreaux. How convenient!


The effect of bouncing light around and between the buildings worked well.


Night and day. This is what the Place looked like the next morning. Shot from the same position as the night photos.


You cannot see clearly the spectators in the photos, but there were 1000’s of heads in the square.


When one show was finished, the crowd moved towards one corner of the square to exit, and the next group enters the square via another corner. To direct traffic, the exit (sortie) signs were projected onto the buildings next to it.


Sue: There was a bottle neck at one point (see photo below).  Chris was holding me back from moving forward because he was afraid of stampede.  He kept on saying “Sue come back here!  Don’t move.  It can be dangerous.  There is no place for the people in the front to move.”  Of course, there was pushing and shoving.  There was this group of people (about 6 or 7 of them) that was pushing their way forward and I was being shoved sideways.  Chris grabs my coat to steady me and says “those people are fu*kers”  OUT LOUD.  LOL.  You should have seen my face.  Now, I don’t care that it’s in France.  People will understand that word.  I was annoyed enough to say “fu*k it, I’m going home”, but when Chris said that, I just started to crack up.  Later on when I was telling this to our friends, Chris had no recollection of ever saying it.  That was funnier.


We passed the same street on Sunday morning less than 12 hours after the photo above was taken.


More Lyon pictures to come in our next few posts.


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