by Davie Pocstar, Greenheart Travel Scholarship Winner in France
For the first time in a long time, I’m actually having a quiet afternoon to myself in this sunny flat on the coastal town of Roses, Spain. If this sounds familiar, it is! My host family and I are back in this quaint seaside town for the remainder of our Christmas holidays. The family has gone for a walk while I’ve dedided to stay in and get some work done. Like this post.
My time in this language exchange homestay will come to an end when I return with my host family to Lyon in early January. It has been a fun past three months and I’m grateful for the opportunity that Greenheart Travel has provided me.
The timing of my homestay was great because this month I was able to participate in the city’s annual Fêtes des Lumières, a long-standing tradition in Lyon. It actually dates back to the 1600’s when the town of Lyon was spared by the plague when everyone lit a candle and placed it outside their windows. This tradition remains today and I was delighted to come home from school earlier this month to find my host mum had placed a candle on every window in the house. Pretty much every house in my village did the same thing.
The Festival of Lights usually last 3-4 days with the big night being on 8th December. I made the trip into the city on this Saturday, excited to be a part of the biggest festival of the year. And it did not disappoint. The entire downtown area of Lyon was a dizzying whirl of light shows, music, people, food and laughter.
I arrived in the afternoon for some proper wandering of the city by taking the métro to the high point of the city, a neighbourhood called Croix-Rousse. From there, I meandered downwards, through the many old streets that were decorated festively in lights and filled with happy citizens.
Starting my wanderings in the Croix-Rousse area.
Along the way, shop windows displayed sinfulness worthy of debauchery in all the mouths that drooled over them.
Watching these sweet morsels fall off the conveyor, I wanted to catch them in my mouth!
As I skipped along Lyon’s old streets, the sky was falling in to darkness and as the lights came on it casted a warm glow throughout the night, especially against the recurring yellow coloured buildings. I felt like I was transported back to another century at certain turns amongst the corridors of Croix-Rousse.
This scene transported me back to the early 1900s. I felt like I should have been holding an oil candle holder.
As I turned the corner, I was greeted by the sounds of these two carolers.
Everywhere I walked, vignettes of this special night greeted me as my eyes ate up the visual sensory overload. It was like walking into a storybook.
A glimpse of merry people inside a board games shop.
As I made my descent from Croix-Rousse, I headed towards the main bridges, Pont Guillotière, Pont Lafayette and Pont de L’Université. I marveled at the light shows o the buildings on Presqu’ile, aka the “almost island” that is the heart of the city. Here are some of the photos of these buildings:
In all the excitement and mayhem, I also managed to capture an impromptu rendition of an Amy Winehouse song!
It was a joyous night and I felt alive surrounded by all the lights and festive people. Jovial smiles and greetings met me at every corner. It was a lovely start to the holiday season. I mean how often does a 30 something traveler get to experience Fêtes des Lumières in France?