In Lyon, on the hill of Fourvière, or praying hill, you can find the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière whose history begins as far back as 1192 when it was first erected. It has long been a symbol to honor the Virgin Mary and, as history tells us, is where citizens came to pray during the 1600s when an epidemic of scurvy spread throughout Lyon. Shortly after praying and honoring the Virgin Mary, the disease subsided in Lyon causing the town to celebrate. To this day, every year on December 8th the Festival of Lights takes place in which the city thanks the Virgin Mary by lighting candles throughout Lyon. This culminates into a 3-day festival in which beautiful lights shine bright across buildings and structures all over the city and special light shows take place.
My friend Morgane graciously showed me all around Lyon, her hometown, and made sure to take me to this church. “You should see this church. It’s very special!” she assured me.
I was totally game, but in my head I thought, I don’t think I can even tell these churches apart anymore. At this point I had been to various cathedrals in different European cities over the course of my Au Pair journey. They were all beginning to meld together into one big, elaborately painted ceiling. And when we made the tiresome uphill walk from the old town center to the top of Fourvière, I even more so thought to myself, Do I REALLY need to see this particular church?
Finally within reach of the church, we stopped at the top of the stairs to look out onto the city from the viewpoint. Though it was a foggy day, like most of my days had been in Europe so far, I took a moment to breathe and just enjoy the view. Relax. Even though I’m tired and out of breath in this moment, I should be thankful that I can walk up these stairs, in a new city and look at this…I thought to myself.
We continued just a few steps from the viewpoint on to the church. I took a minute outside to snap some exterior pictures while Morgane went in ahead of me.
But when I finally stepped inside my eyes lit up from what was before me. This was not just any cathedral in Europe (none of them actually are just any cathedral, really). But instantly, I was in awe of the beautiful interior details and design.
I snapped away and answered my earlier question quietly to myself, Yes. I needed to see this.
The Festival of Lights
Though I was not in town for the Festival of Lights (I missed it by a few weeks), I did connect with their press office in order to share some official pictures from the ceremony. Check them out in the gallery below. And let me know, would you visit Lyon in the winter for the Festival of Lights? I sure hope I can make it one day. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
For more on the Festival of Lights, check out their official website here.