Our Life in Burgundy

Version française

The Blog: Our life in Burgundy

December 9, 2017

Fête des Lumières in Cluny

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 16:19


Last night, despite the cold weather, there was a good turnout of families to see this year’s lights in Cluny. Thankfully the events were not so drawn out nor so weird as usual. The Ombres Blanches, four ladies on stilts in beautiful floaty costumes led the procession through the town to the market place.

One of the shop fronts on the main street

In front of the Abbey we gathered to watch a lively performance of fire dancing and pyrotechnics with Lughna by Cie l’Arche en sel.

Don’t try this at home

After another wander round town we returned to find the Abbey open, and the four ombres blanches were leading a procession round the cloisters. Following behind was the semeur d’étoiles, alias Gérard Thélier, our resident historian.

The ombres blanches in the Abbey

Le semeur d’étoiles

It was nice to see the children so enthralled. The evening was cut short as the horse spectacular was cancelled. Just as well as the snow had begun to fall and it was nice to get home to a warm fire.

December 11, 2016

La Fête des Lumières

Filed under: Events,People,Places — Tags: , , , , — Mary @ 10:11


The Fête des Lumières in Lyon attracts millions of visitors. It grew into a major cultural event from small beginnings, lighting candles in the windows to thank the Virgin Mary for saving the populace from the great plague of 1643. In 1852 her statue was installed high above Vieux Lyon next to the Basilica of Fourvière, and each year, beginning on 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, she is feted with processions and dramatic entertainment based on lights.

Cluny has begun to stage its own Fête des Lumières on 8th December. There was an astonishing turnout on Thursday night considering it was perhaps the coldest night in a week of below zero temperatures and freezing fog. It started with a procession through town with a band followed by an inflatable giant, a firewalker on stilts and a girl climbing ropes on a frame which had to be lowered to get along the street under the illuminations.

The band led the procession along the main street..

to finish in the market place in front of the abbey

Then began a tightrope show by Underclouds with their Funambus.  This was a weird act and a little scary as this huge old bus was pulled onto the marketplace by a woman with a rope round her neck, and then was driven quite fast in a circle surrounded by a huge crowd, trying to run over a man on foot who was attacking the bus. There was a ghastly moment when the bus chased him towards the crowd and stopped within feet of them. What if the bus had skidded on the icy cobbles??

The bus on fire

and tightrope walking

There were some good effects when the bus was set on fire and the couple did their tightrope walking across the top, but there was far too much prancing around while everyone was getting colder and colder. Even going round the indoor Christmas market, shuffling together like a group of penguins keeping warm in a snow storm, did nothing to alleviate the frozen feet.  A cup of cocoa and a warm fire beckoned and we left Cluny before the illumination of the abbey and the equestrian show with Sabrina from Equinoctis in Cormatin. She also puts on rather weird shows but to her credit she uses horses that she has rescued.

I think the photographer from the Journal also left when we did as the next day he had posted nothing of the later events.  But it was a brave effort in freezing cold weather although, as is usual for entertainment here, a little bizarre.



December 9, 2013

The Fetes des lumieres in Lyon

Filed under: Events,Places — Tags: , , — Mary @ 18:43


Merci Marie – According to a card given to me by an African missionary on the steps of the Cathédrale Saint-Jean, Mary has saved Lyon from many things. Scurvy in 1638, the Plague in 1643, cholera in 1832, invasion by the Prussians in 1870…

Notre Dame de Fourvière, the basilica erected to the Virgin Mary

In 1852, the Fête des Lumières became a popular festival when a statue of the Virgin Mary was erected next to the Basilica, overlooking the city.  It is said to be the third biggest public celebration after the Carnival in Rio and the Oktoberfest in Munich. Four million people watch the shows which run for four nights.

Re-enactment of how Lyon was saved from the plague.

This year the illuminations were not just the in centre of Lyon but in far flung locations. It is impossible to visit all the sites in one evening so we had to pick and choose. It is good we met up with our friend and guide, Marie Antoinette, as the choice of shows and venues was mindnumbing.

The Hôtel de Ville

The Hôtel de Ville

You couldn’t fail to be impressed by the lights, fireworks and flames. We joined thousands of people the city centre to see Lost Paradise at the Hôtel de Ville, Le Prince des Lumières at the Place des Terreaux and Pierrot le Feu at the Place Bellecour.  Then a colourful son et lumière on the banks of the Rhône below the Fourvière.  It was a metro ride to the Aliens in Place Guichard and we managed to get out to the Chinese Corner in the Parc de la Tête d’Or. From one of the bridges which span the Rhône we marvelled at the lavish display of fireworks.

The Chinese corner in the Parc de la Tête d'Or

We were equally impressed by the logistics of the Fete des Lumieres. Shepherding millions of visitors in the city centre is no easy task. It helped that all transport in Lyon is free during the festival so we were able to hop on and off the metro, trams and buses.

The main streets into the squares were one way. We flowed into the Place des Terreaux in a river of people, and after the show we were swept inexorably onwards to the Place Bellecour.

It was all very confusing. The metro stations were one way too. People in and people out and never the twain shall meet. Sometimes we had to queue on the pavement to get into a station as only one trainload of people was allowed down to the platform at a time.  An army of friendly security men were posted at every entrance and barrier and they couldn’t have been more helpful in explaining how to get here or there. They added to the evening’s enjoyment as, with their help, we were never lost for long.

Looking at the catalogue I realise that there was a lot more we didn’t see but it was becoming very late and very cold. At minus 7° a thick frost had formed. Time to get back to the coach waiting for us near the Confluence. Our driver Sandrine whisked us effortlessly back up the motorway to Cluny. With Voyages Clunisois it was a very easy trip to Lyon.

Powered by WordPress