Festival of Lights in Lyon: Discover the Bright City
Festival of Lights in Lyon: Discover the Bright City
Don’t listen to what they say, go see !
Welcome to Lyon, the
third biggest city in France. This city is known for its historical and
architectural landmarks, classified as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site.
In the modern times,
Lyon has also developed a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France, a
But the city isn’t only
about food, it’s also a young and dynamic place, hosting one of the largest
community of international students in France.
From its famous
authentic Bouchons (typical
restaurants from Lyon) to its countless
events throughout the year or its huge shopping centres, Lyon has everything to
please the city lovers.
Want to get around with
us ? Let’s go.
Festival of Lights, what is it ?
One of the most emblematic events happening in Lyon is, without a doubt, the Festival of Lights. Originally, the Festival of Lights in Lyon expresses gratitude towards Mary, mother of Jesus, around December 8 of each year. This unique Lyonnaise tradition dictates that every house places candles along the outsides of all the windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets.
Centuries later, this
tradition evolved in an eye-catching show of lights, sounds and colors.
Nowadays, during 4 nights, Lyon is dazzling visitors with a bright setting.
Bridges, streets, buildings, parks… Even its main river “Le Rhône”,
glows of beauty because of some ingenious system of lighting, creating a
remarkable show that will amaze young and old.
For the occasion, the city offers you 4 different itineraries, defined by themes and geographical sectors : A red route, a blue route, an orange route and a green one. To find out more about those itineraries, feel free to click on the link.
↠ Currency – Euros
↠ Best time to go – During the festival of Lights / Spring time : From April to June included
↠ Prices – Mid-range to Expensive (especially during the festival)
↠ Airport – Lyon Saint Exupéry Airport
↠ Best way to travel – By walk or with the subway. The city is really accessible and safe for pedestrians and Lyon is so enjoyable to be discovered by foot. The subway is also a good option. However, during the festival, it becomes incredibly crowded. It will take you longer to go from one point to another with the subway than by foot.
Top 10 things to do
1 – Place
The largest pedestrian
square in Europe, this is where the tourist information centre and many large
hotels are based. Place Bellecour is located at the intersection of many of
Lyon’s main avenues, which makes this place surrounded by great restaurants and
DO NOT MISS IT FOR THE FESTIVAL – The show
happening in this place is truly magical.
Cathedral of Saint Jean Baptiste
cathedral is situated on a bustling square in the Old Lyon. The entrance is
free. It’s an architectural treasure
where you can also admire impressive artefacts owned by the church.
DO NOT MISS IT FOR THE FESTIVAL – That was
our absolute favourite, the show called “Genesis” for the 2019
edition, lasted 7 minutes and it was incredible. We even watch it twice despite
3 – Lyon Old
The city is split into
different districts and the one named the “Old Lyon” is the most
picturesque, by far. Take your time to wander around its colorful streets, old
churches and typical shops. It’s an atmosphere hard to describe, I guess you just
have to go there yourself and feel it.
DO NOT MISS IT FOR THE FESTIVAL – From the
train station to the Cathedral of Saint-Jean, follow the blue route. For us,
that’s where the masterpieces of the whole festival were.
4 – Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière
This intricate Basilica
is as impressive from the outside, as from the inside. The gilded arches,
atriums and amazing acoustics make it a moving excursion. It’s particularly
pretty at night. On your way up, you can pass through the beautiful gardens of
Rosaire, splendid during spring time.
5 – Croix
On your way to the Basilique Notre Dame from the old town,
you will pass by the district of Croix Rousseau. This elevated district offers
amazing views across the red rooftops of Lyon, to the hills beyond the city. A
perfect occasion for a break on the steep way up to the Basilique as well, and
of course the view is worth it.
6 – La place
rectangular square is really famous in Lyon as well. This place is surrounded
by impressive majestic buildings – typically Lyonnais style.
DO NOT MISS IT FOR THE FESTIVAL– All the majestic buildings are
turning golden and shiny by night for the show. Your eyes will be full of
sparkles and it’s hard to decide what to watch, everything is just splendid.
7 – Museum
of Fines Arts
Near La Place des Terreaux, you can find
another cultural gem of Lyon : Its museum
of Fines Arts. Its seven rooms of exhibits make it an immersive attraction.
Although the audio guide of highlights takes 90 minutes, we recommend to the
art lovers to rather leave the whole day to see the most of it.
8 – Go
shopping in Lyon Part Dieu
This place is for all
the ladies (or gentlemen) that want to get an exciting shopping excursion. You
will have 5 floors and around 250 shops and restaurants at your disposal, enjoy
and get your credit cards ready.
At this time of the
year, paying a visit to a Christmas market seems more than appropriate. There
is plenty of them in Lyon in December, but the one we would recommend you the
most is : Marché de la Croix Rousse, accessible in few minutes by walk from the
Place Bellecour or by subway, as the market is next to the Lyon – Perrache
10 – Parc de
la Tête d’Or
Located in the 6th
arrondissement, this large park is a great place to escape the city for an
afternoon, perfect for a walk or chilling. You can find several attractions
over there, like a small zoo, a touristic train that can make you visit more
about this immense park, a boat organising little cruises on “Le Rhône” and the beautiful
DO NOT MISS IT FOR THE FESTIVAL – Not only the park got all colorful and bright, but it’s also hosting an amazing pyrotechnic show.
Where to stay ?
Fancy -If your budget allows it, we recommend you to stay in the exquisite Hotel Silky, in the very heart of Lyon. The location of this boutique hotel is perfect and propose high-quality services.
Mid-range – Embrace Lyon’s charm in Citadines Apart Hotel, well located and nicely decorated. This is a perfect option for those staying longer than a weekend in the city.
Don’t break the bank – If want you want to enjoy the most of your stay and not ruining your finance, while still staying a nice place, have a look at Away Hostel & Coffee Shop.
About us – We stayed in an AirBnb, Chambre dans charmant duplex, near le Parc de la Tête d’Or and we’ve been amazed by our stay over there. Not only the location was great, but the apartment was spacious and clean. And the bonus, we got to spend this time with our amazing hosts and their friendly cat, they were really kind and helpful. More than recommended.
For those who know us
or read about us since a while, you probably know that we are highly in favour
of AirBnb. However, we are aware of the recent polemic towards it.
We first fall for
AirBnb for its concept, which was to share an accommodation with the hosts, the
Through the years,
AirBnb became a business and now hosts are turning what was once a renting
place for other locals, in AirBnb, in order to make profit. We can’t blame them
for that, but it leads now to a massive problem for local people or students to
find a place to live.
That’s why, every time
we can, we rent an AirBnb where we are sharing the space with the hosts. First,
it’s more affordable. Second, you meet the locals and they can share with you
priceless tips. Third, you don’t participate in this new business that makes
locals’s lives harder.
Where to eat ?
Bouchon : A typical “Lyonnais” word,
used to refer those restaurants full of charm, serving this authentic Lyonnaise
cuisine. Lyon is all about rustic, rich French food, and is famous for a number
of unique meals. Think about a smoky pork sausage with pistachios, served on
mashed potatoes with a creamy sauce, or a brochette of foie gras, or maybe a
colorful macaron… And obviously, the well-known quenelles.
L’Auberge des Canuts– 8 Place Saint Jean Baptiste
Le François Villon– 20 Rue du Boeuf ♥︎
Au petit Bouchon chez Georges – 8 rue du Garet
Hank Burger – 5 Rue Pizay
Toutes les couleurs – 26 rue Imbert – Colomès
Culina Hortus– 38 Rue de l’Arbre Sec ♥︎
For Pedro’s birthday, as he is a vegetarian
food lover, we went for a really “avant-garde” experience. A
vegetarian gastronomic restaurant. Guys, let us tell you : That was AMAZING !
Go have a look atCulina Hortus, we just loved it. It’s affordable,
considering the quality of the food. Don’t forget to book in advance though.
Where to go for a good coffee break ?
Slake Coffee House – 9 Rue de l’Ancienne Préfecture
Puzzle Café – 4 Rue de la Poulaillerie ♥︎
La Boîte à Café – 3 rue de l’Abbé Rozier
Our Top Tips
– Bring warm clothes & gloves,
walking by night in Lyon can be a freezing experience,
– If possible, come
enjoy the opening or the closing, to avoid the rush of Friday & Saturday
– As the Festival is
divided in few routes, to enjoy the most of each, we advise you to focus on one
at a time each night, we had just one night over there and we had to rush it so
much to see everything we wanted. So if you can, don’t do like us and take it
– Enjoy some vin chaud, a typical beverage in this
time of the year. There is plenty of sellers along the streets. Perfect for the
– If you don’t feel
like stopping in a restaurant for lunch, there are many options of typical
street food. Less expensive than a restaurant, but still delicious. For the
vegetarians, many street food shops propose a variety of yummy veggie soups,
perfect to keep you warm,
– Get a beautiful
picture of the wheel in Place Bellecour
for sunset (or from the wheel),
– If you plan on going to Lyon for the festival, book your accommodation the most in advance possible.
– Our special Eco Tip : Carry your own reusable
Go with your own
reusable coffee cup. While you travel in the cities, you walk a lot. That’s
always nice to carry around with you a cup of delicious coffee or tea, right ?
But rather than taking one away in a plastic cup, that you will throw once you
are done, use your own.
That’s more and more
First, you will be able
to keep your coffee or tea warmer longer. Second, Lyon is full of coffee shops
that even offer a discount if you
are taking away your beverages in your own cup.
What do you need more ?
Go for it, there is plenty of different sizes and designs, suitable for
everyone’s taste and needs.
That’s it for today
expedition, we hope you had a great time with us discovering a bit more about
this incredible city.
If you want to know
more about it, feel free to contact us, it would be a pleasure to help you out
in your travel planning.
To see more beautiful pictures of 2019’s edition, you can have a look at their official Instagram account : Fêtes des Lumières. ✨
We are Camille & Pedro, a Franco-Brazilian couple. Currently starring in our own travel reality show, we would love to bring you along in our adventurous universe. We’ve been both experiencing solo traveling and are now keeping this nomad lifestyle as a couple. On our blog, we are sharing our adventures around the world, offering tips & creating travel guides for other wanderers.