Tag Archives: Lyon

Lyon -Fete des Lumieres – Amazing Festival of Lights

Photo courtesy of Lyon Department of TourismThis weekend, art, poetry and illumination combine with the latest technology as the city of Lyon, France kicks off their extraordinary Festival of Lights –  la Fete des Lumieres.

Over the past 11 years, this festival of spectacular outdoor urban lighting has become one of the must-see events in France and in all of Europe, attracting over a million visitors, and filling hotels rooms months in advance.  Follow their Twitter updates here  @Fete_lumieres09

While Paris has the reputation of being the “City of Light”, most people don’t realize it’s really Lyon, France’s second largest city, that is the renowned center of the urban outdoor lighting and design industry.  The 4-day festival transforms public squares, buildings, monuments, bridges, cathedrals and more into unbelievable illuminated works of art, using the latest technology in lighting and design.

The current celebration had its humble beginnings in December 1852, when townsfolk gathered in lighted procession to commemorate a new statue of the Blessed Mother, which was erected on Fourviere hill, near the Basilica.  Throughout the years citizens of Lyon marked the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by placing lighted candles in their front windows every December 8, a tradition which continues today.

In 1999, the lighting design industry decided to give citizens of Lyon a true Festival of Lights, and the modern-day Fete des Lumieres was born.  Now in it’s 11th year, the festival runs from December 5-8, with venues throughout the city.  Residents and visitors will be enchanted by the lighting displays, and collectively ask in amazement “How’d they do that?”

Photo by Antoine Taveneaux

Seven major works by noted design artists will be featured, including:

Playing with Time
– laser, light and sound showcasing effects of weather as buildings in the Place des Terreaux are covered in ice, submerged in water, distorted and then melted under the effect of heat

Garden of Light in Flower – 44 giant brightly colored luminous flowers carpet the esplanade of Montee de la Grande Cote, with the illuminated city of Lyon as a backdrop

Garden – between the Hotel du Ville and the Opera, giant plants and flowers welcome visitors

Bells & Light Panels – the façade of the Basilica de Notre Dame, with its set of 23 church bells, will be transformed into a dazzling backdrop of four genres of art: neoclassical, cubist, abstract and contemporary

The Digital Man – a giant 40 ft. tall digital man (made of a carbon fiber skeleton, transparent hoops and electroluminescent wiring) scales the TDF communications tower, a la King Kong

The Builders
– honors 300 years of builders who toiled to complete the Cathedral of Saint Jean.  Two giant hands projected on the façade of the church take visitors through the construction process, with fantastic detail and realism

Tic-Tock – stroll along the banks of the Rhone to view 9 giant lighted panels, illustrating the regular and varied rhythms of time

Photo courtesy of Lyon Department of Tourism

In addition, dozens of other works will be featured around the city by students of France’s art, architecture and design schools.  Also on the agenda is an international symposium of 300 lighting experts, visual artists and architects who will meet to exchange ideas, and learn about the latest technology in outdoor lighting of urban spaces.

But for those of us not in the lighting industry….we get to enjoy, and marvel at the brilliant juxtaposition of history, architecture, faith, and art with modern illumination technology.

Lyon is situated in the Rhone Alps region of south central France, about 280 miles southeast of Paris, 90 miles southwest of Geneva.  The Train Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) network will whisk you from the Gare du Lyon in Paris to Lyon in two hours.

Check out the Fete des Lumieres 2009  Flickr group created to share the amazing photos and videos.

(Photos courtesy of Lyon Department of Tourism unless otherwise noted.  Hyperlinks are accurate at time of publication, but subject to change by site owners.)

Beaujolais Nouveau – Est Arrivé

Beaujolais grape

Photo by Karaian, via Flickr, with Creative Commons license

It’s that time again!  The 3rd Thursday of every November marks the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau — light red, casual drinking wine from the gentle rolling hills and golden stone countryside of the Beaujolais region of France.  French law has decreed that the Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be released until the stroke of midnight, on the 3rd Thursday of November, so while the French countryside is sleeping, wine producers and distributors rush to stock their shelves with the new release. 

Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape , and by law, the grapes must be harvested by hand. Sixty-five million bottles are produced annually, and exported worldwide, with the top 3 markets being Germany, Japan and the U.S.   Beaujolais is never aged, but meant to be consumed just weeks after harvest. 

Some wine critics do not believe  the Beaujolais Nouveau to be a serious wine, as it lacks complexity brought on by the aging process. But that is considered by some to be part of its charm.    If you are wine shopping, look for the banners that proclaim “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!” 

Celebrating the release of the new harvest was originally a local festival, but thanks to successful marketing campaigns, you will see Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations popping up around the world.  Ask your local wine merchant when they will receive their stock.  Is it a coincidence that the wines hit store shelves just in time for U.S. Thanksgiving? 

In Lyon today, November 15, an expert panel of 70 wine critics, sommeliers, and Michelin-starred chefs gathered at Lyon’s beautiful Hotel du Ville for a tasting and judging competition, to award the coveted Trophy Lyon-Beaujolais Nouveau.  The winners will be announced tomorrow on the Lyon Le Progres website.  

Beaujolais Strolling Minstrels

Strolling Minstrels in Period Costume at Lyon's Hotel du Ville

I toured the Beaujolais region last year on a tour organized by the Lyon Office of Tourism.  We visited wine cellars, and met with the former Mayor of one of the Beaujolais villages.  Madame (adorable lady, center, in the photo below) educated us with the history of Beaujolais and the growing and harvesting process.  And of course, we sampled!
Beaujolais 2 - Former Mayor of Beaujolais Wine Tasting

So no matter where you are on the 3rd Thursday of November each year, you have cause to celebrate!  Santé!