Hole in the Clouds


Dec 9, 2009

Unless you've been in France this week, you've missed the tenth annual Fete des Lumieres in Lyon. Actually, folks in Lyon have been lighting up the town on December 8 every year since 1852, but it's only since 1999 that the festival of lights has been cranked up into a multi-day techno-extravaganza. City squares, walls of buildings, even bushes in the parks are not just brightly lit but orchestrated into animated light-show productions.

A city park, for example, goes through all the seasons of the year in ten minutes: snow falls and melts, trees burst into bloom, the grass turns green, flowers beds sprout and bloom and fade, leaves turn red and gold and fall swirling to the earth. Since you and I weren't there, we're probably limited to a virtual experience of the spectacle; try Youtubing it.

The fountain in Lyon's downtown city plaza has been lit up like the Trevi in Fellini's "La Dolce Vita." Characters from 1960s Italian cinema stroll the square. Meanwhile, at the city cathedral, beams of light recapitulate in a few minutes the three centuries of contruction that created the Gothic structure; the effect is of empty space yielding to posts and beams and then courses of stone and arches and statuary and gold leaf.

The church in this photo, Saint Nizier, is lit for a quieter, subtler theme. It's been given two eyes, one brown and one blue, and they move. The whole building seems to move--it breathes in and out, in and out.

Too bad we missed it. Four million people were there.

Eglise Saint Nizier   La Dolce Vita   Lyon Fete des Lumieres