Lyon is known as the gourmet capital of France. It is currently ranked the third biggest city by population, after Paris and Marseille.
Founded by the Romans in 43 B.C, Lyon was one of the most important cities of the Roman empire. In the Middle Ages it was an important trading city connecting Northwest Europe to the Mediterranean and Italy. Later, it became the capital of the French silk weaving and textiles industry.
Though a growing industrial and business hub, the city keeps its religious roots close to heart. In December, the Lyonnaise (inhabitants of Lyon), hold two important events in their city; the Festival of Lights and their Christmas markets.
Our December family outing included trips to this beautiful city. Working our way through the busy but family-friendly crowd we enjoyed the sights at the Festival of Lights. At the Christmas markets we bought a few trinkets here and there. And we finally had our premiere taste of maroons chauds.
Fête de Lumières
On the 8th of September 1852, the people of Lyon were to celebrate the installation of the statue of Virgin Mary on Fourviere Hill. On that day the river Soane broke its banks forcing the festivities to be cancelled. The festivities were then post-phoned to the 8th December. On the morning of 8th December, a violent storm hit the city but the weather improved as night fell. Seizing this opportunity the people of Lyon lit candles and Bengal lights and hurried down into the streets. And for every year thereafter they celebrated this event by lighting glass candles. It wasn’t until 1889, the celebration became one of the highlights of the city, the event of lightning those little lights, an age old tradition became a unique urban event attracting millions of people.
The Fête de Lumières (Festival of Lights) takes place from the 7th to the 10th December every year. You can find more information on this event here.
The Christmas Market
Lyon is home to two Christmas markets. The traditional Christmas village takes place at Place Carnot, with around 130 chalets selling artisan candles and Christmas decorations. The second Christmas market is the covered Croix-rousse market which also hosts a Christmas farm with animals and food stands. They also host ski rinks for the whole family’s enjoyment. Dates and venues for the Lyon Christmas markets can be found here.
À la prochain Lyon!