Language Exchange - France, Language Exchange Homestay, LEH

Fêtes des Lumières Celebration in France

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.

01_Fete des Lumieres

Starting my wanderings in the Croix-Rousse area.

02_chocolate display

Along the way, shop windows displayed sinfulness worthy of debauchery in all the mouths that drooled over them.

03_chocolate conveyor

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.

04_lit corridor

This scene transported me back to the early 1900s. I felt like I should have been holding an oil candle holder.

05_two carolers

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:

08_lit buildings02 09_lit buildings03 07_lit buildings01

 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?

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.


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