Tag: light festival

Why you should visit Lyon’s new foodie hub

My final travel assignment of the year was a return trip to Lyon.

France’s foodie hub is one of my favourite French cities for food and culture.

While my main commission was based around the Lyon Light Festival, I also had a look behind the scenes at the newly opened Cité de la Gastronomie.

The site is located next to the InterContinental hotel in the redeveloped Grand Hôtel-Dieu [pictured above].

The historic city-centre building served as its former hospital from the 15th century onwards.

The Lyon opening is the first of four similar projects — coming soon to Dijon, Tours and later Paris-Rungis in time for the 2024 Olympic Games.

The network celebrates the 2010 designation by Unesco of the French gastronomic meal to its Intangible Heritage list.

Each site will examine a different aspect of French gastronomy with Lyon’s foodie hub focused on the relationship between food and health.

The exhibition explores the history of gastronomy with a section devoted to Lyon’s most famous chef, Paul Bocuse, who died in 2018.

The upstairs kitchen, meanwhile, hosts guest chefs from across the world to create new tasting menus.

“The French gastronomic meal was given Unesco status because of the way it brings people together,” says Director Florent Bonnetin.

“It’s the community aspect of eating together that is the single most defining aspect of French life.”

Read more about my Lyon trip, both the Light Festival and the Cite de la Gastronomie, in articles to be published in the new year.

More from Only Lyon Tourism

Making The Most Of The Amazing Light Festival In Lyon

We live in dark times.

As if the political climate wasn’t bad enough, changing the clocks to winter mode casts an even longer shadow.

But not so in Lyon, a city I hadn’t visited in over ten years.

The city hosts the world’s biggest light festival each December and I was back in Lyon, or Lugdunum as it was founded by the Romans in 43AD, for a preview of this year’s event.

With the gloom of winter setting in, it brightened up my week no end.

Light relief

“Lyon is the mother of all light festivals,” said Jean-Francois Zurawik.

I was having lunch with the Event Director of Lyon’s Fete des Lumierés in one of the low-key bistros France’s capital of gastronomy does so well — see the mural of Lyon’s most famous chef, Paul Bocuse, above.

“Light is universal. The battle between light and darkness is fundamental to the human condition,” he added.

This year’s event runs December 6-9 with 75 light and laser installations at 45 locations across the city, many focused on the historic buildings of Old Lyon.

The festival has its origins in the Middle Ages and took its inspiration from a 1852 celebration to mark the blessing of the Virgin Mary by placing candles in the windows of houses across the city.

It will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2019 and has grown to a spectacle attracting some 2m people to the city, spawning spin-off festivals in places as diverse as Ghent, Hong Kong and Durham.

Come together 

For Jean-Francois, however, it’s less about the size of the spectacle and more about bringing people together.

“My job is to find light artists to create a poetic moment. It’s about emotion, not technology,” he told me, finishing his petit café before heading out to another last-minute planning meeting.

And let’s face it: when we live in dark times like these, anything that can bring people together is something to cherish.

Vive la lumiére!

More: Fete des Lumières Lyon