I think I have been looking forward to this since I discovered the Fête des Lumières, an annual festival in Lyon. Before going, I would’ve liked to know that this festival was one of three largest annual festivals in the world… after the Rio Carnival and Oktoberfest. I thought it be a relaxing getaway in which I could finally explore Lyon. The most important thing I learned, though, is probably that the adjective of Lyon is Lyonnais… and that I will forever relate that to mayonnaise.
A friend and I booked tickets with Integre, an international student organization on campus. I would advise you not to do that because the buses were an hour late each way. We left around 10 and got there at noon. First things first: pit stop at a café to plan sights, grabbing a croissant, and buying a sweater from H&M because I didn’t check the weather that day. The gloves that I got there also would’ve been handy… had I not discovered that they forgot to take off the magnetic protectant, but complaints another time.
We spent about an hour trying to look for the most elusive UNESCO site: the Presqu’île, walking through a Christmas market twice, through the Lyon gare twice, and through countless nearby neighborhoods; no one knew what we were talking about. After all this, we gave up, deciding that it was either the smallest UNESCO site ever or that it had been bombed years ago and they never took it off the UNESCO listings. But never mind all that—it was time to eat in the food capital of France.
Me with my new necessity-sweater.
We ended up eating at a bar/café simply because the prices there were lowest on the fine gastronomic street that we were on, and ordered the Bouchot: a famous French mussels&fries dish soaked in this buttery garlic sauce. Delicious. The restaurant dished out refillable buckets of baguettes, too, which we used to soak up the remaining juice at the bottom. I guess our waitress thought we weren’t paying enough to stay as long as we had, so before I could finish the last 3 fries on the plate, she whisked them away and handed up a check.
We should’ve known how busy it was going to get by how many people were already on the streets at 4, the time we left the restaurant. But the colors were so pretty here in Lyon—without the mountains surrounding the city, I was finally able to see a proper sunset.
Oh, just modeling on some old Roman ruins… hopefully they aren’t headstones because that would really be awkward…
We tried to orient ourselves and tackle this festival in an organized way—really, we did. But even after stumbling onto our first spectacle, even after locating it on the map and knowing which one we wanted to head towards next, we didn’t follow the plan at all. Why? Because simply walking from one “light” to another took more effort than those times I died hiking.
It was here where we found our first vin chaud blanc stand. I’m more partial to the red hot wine rather than the white because of its rich cinnamon flavor. It was also while walking around that we found that goddamn UNESCO site completely removed from where the map led us to believe. It wasn’t tiny and it hadn’t been bombed; it was just misplaced.
Remember how calm and not busy it was before? Well this was how it was afterwards:
The most annoying thing was that many of the streets were blocked because there was a specific flow to enter and exit a spectacle. This made it
Never miss the one at Place Bellecour, where the giant ferris wheel sits. That was one of the most-attended, yet awesomest spectacles I saw that day. That, as well as the Hotel de Ville and Place des Terreaux, which put on a “Prince of Lights” show this year. It was surprising, given how big the festival was, to have run into a few people from my new residence. Small world. I used this guy’s super long arm to my advantage to take a group shot with the wide angle—secret perks of long-arm, wide angle lens combination.
Originally, our plan was to see as many sights as possible. However, after only traveling to four or so, and stumbling onto three others, we were ready to call it a day. The rest of Lyon obviously thought the same because by 10PM, the streets were cleared even though the festival was set to forge on until 1AM. Anna and I ducked into the 50th bar we passed and cozied down for two rather expensive cups of coffee.
Also the bar where I found a giant knot in my hair.
I also grabbed a kebab near our bus stop, but no one needs to know about that. Typical video montage to be coming soon. Maybe I’m getting carried away with those…