Last night, I went to Lyon with the gym teacher from Hemingway and a few of her friends. We got back to Nîmes super duper late. Why did we do this? To see the Fête des lumières! Every year, the city of Lyon puts on a festival of lights in early December. There are all sorts of brightly colored and luminous displays. The effect is incredible and the city is scarcely recognizable. The only thing to spoil the magic is that there’s such a crowd of impatient people! I thought I was going to die at certain moments. Like when I got stuck between the tram and the platform and my foot went between the two for a second (thank God that the main crowd had just finished shoving by so my ankle was fine!!). I would not be surprised if one year there were deaths. Sadly, I mean that quite seriously. There are far more people than the streets of the centre ville can handle (3 million people were predicted for last night). The French aren’t exactly the most talented group of people I’ve met when it comes to making lines and crowd control. There are moments when you’re in a crowd so thick it becomes a stampede in slow motion. These moments did take away from the magic, but I am super glad I went and I really did enjoy it!
My favorite display was the parade of the Mexican marionettes. The creatures were so fantastical and they had people in costume playing music which added to the ambiance. I wish we’d gotten to see the Parc de la tête d’or, but there wasn’t time. My suggestion would be to start outside the centre ville and not come on the Saturday, the most busy day. It was quite a magical night! To listen to the music and see what was going on at la Fourvière: Le grand orchestre de Fourvière. The music is a nice backdrop to the photo gallery.
On another note, France prides itself for being “laïque”. Religion is a personal matter and not something public. Thus, the large female Muslim population is not allowed to wear a veil in school and there’s been talk of extending this to the workplace and for many employers, it already is the rule. However, at the fête des lumières, in several very public places was written “Merci Marie”, Thank you Marie. As in the Virgin Mary. This is a very overtly religious message. Now, you may have guessed what religion I am from reading my posts and this doesn’t mean that I disagree with the idea in the message. What it does mean is that there seems to be a double standard in the idea of laïcité in France in regards to Christian religions in comparison all others, especially the Muslim religion. For anyone who’s spent some time in France in the last few years, do you agree? This probably won’t be the last time I write on this topic as it interests me enormously.