Home > Personal Posts > Three days in Paris and no Fête des Lumières in Lyon

Three days in Paris and no Fête des Lumières in Lyon

November 19, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Mafalda_merciThis is not supposed to be a blog where I tell you about my life but I’ve received wonderful messages on twitter, heartfelt comments and likes on the post I published Saturday morning, about half an hour after I discovered that Paris had suffered from six terrorist attacks in one night, killing 129 people and wounding 352 other. Thanks for them. Thanks to all of you who did a minute’s silence, organized a march, gathered or meditated to honor the people who died on Friday night.

These murderers tried to drag the City of Lights and the country of the Enlightenment into their darkness. They won’t succeed and despite how hurt, shocked and raw we feel about what happened, life must go on.

This week, I had a three days business trip scheduled in Paris. I went. As a coincidence, our assistant at work had booked me a hotel entirely decorated by rap, pop and rock singers. It felt right to stay in a place that celebrates rock music after what happened to the Bataclan. The bedside tables were made of drums, the shower had piano keys on the tiling and the closet looked like a cabinet to file music instruments. Here is the artsy lobby, where you can listen to the music of the five artists who decorated the hotel:

Hotel Triangle d'Or (3)

So how’s the atmosphere in Paris? I didn’t go to the Place de la République, although I wanted to. But it’s not the time to worry the police with passersby gathering around. They have enough to do. I saw lots of policemen, gendarmes and CRS in the metro, on the streets. I attended a conference on the Champs Elysées, I thought the avenue was deserted. I went to a fast food, I had to show the content of my bag to a security guard. Same thing to go to the mall at Les Halles. There are still people sitting at terraces but I found the Parisians walking at a less frantic pace than usual. It’s only my impressions and I’m still probably too emotional to think straight. Mundane views take special meanings, like this fountain with birds of peace just before a Lebanese restaurant.

Fontaine Rueil 2

Otherwise I’ve read that sales of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast are booming. Isn’t that a great response?

Tonight, we also learnt that the Fête des Lumières has been canceled in Lyon. What’s that? It’s a popular event that lasts four days around the 8th of December. Lyon celebrates the fact that the Virgin Mary protected the town from the plague. Every 8th of December, the Lyonnais put candles on their window edges in rememberance of that day. Since 1999, it has become a huge event for the town as there are unique light shows on the city buildings. 3 million visitors come each year to see the shows, enjoy the city and walk around. The policemen are in Paris, such a huge crowd is complicated to protect and the mayor canceled the event. We expected it.

However, we will all put candles on our window edges on December 8th, and this year, they’ll have painful meaning. Fête des Lumières means Feast of Lights but also Feast of the Enlightenment. It would be very nice if you too lighted candles on December 8th and put them on your window edges. That way, we’ll be a lot more to put on lights to fight against their darkness.

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  1. November 19, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    I will definitely light a candle on December 8th. Thank you for sharing this.


    • November 20, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks for lighting a candle on December 8th.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. November 20, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Ah, what a shame – I was planning to come to the Fete des Lumieres this year, as it’s my last chance to see it before I head back to the UK. But I will certainly light candles in my windows and think of you and all our friends in Paris. It must have felt a bit strange, emotional and empty walking through the streets of Paris.


    • November 20, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Oh! I didn’t know you were moving back to the UK. You’ll have an excuse to come back to Lyon next year. 🙂 Will you be there for another Quais du Polar?

      Thanks for lighting candles with us. This Fête des Lumières is going to be special and it was a bit strange to be in Paris this week.


  3. November 20, 2015 at 10:34 am

    That visit must have been an emotional experience. The atmosphere would have been very strange I imagine,people going about their normal daily activities yet with the shadow of that horrific event on their shoulders


    • November 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      It was strange. Everybody was following their routine and yet you could feel it was on eveyrbody’s mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. November 20, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    The aftermath of these things are such emotional times. Then as now, I live and work, not that too far from where the 09/11 attacks occurred. There are obvious parallels. We tend to notice all that is different as well remains the same.

    I will light a candle on December 8th.


    • November 20, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      I heard several interviews from New Yorkers on the radio. The attacks in Paris triggered bad memories.
      Thanks for Lightning a candle with us on December 8th.


  5. Tom Cunliffe
    November 21, 2015 at 1:19 am

    It is very moving to read of your experiences in Paris – where evidently “life goes on”. We are all in the dark about what the future holds for any of the cities of Europe, but at least literature is a constant flame of peace.

    I apologise for not visiting yours’ or any other book blogs over the last year. After 8 years of blogging and also having other activities to attend to , I just found it all a bit much for a while. Fortunately I have cleared more space in my life and now hope to resume where I left off.


    • November 21, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Tom,

      It’s nice to have you back and thanks for your kind words.


  6. November 21, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Ils ont les armes. On les emmerde. On a Mamie Danielle.

    Inspiring to see how she’s prompted people to read A Moveable Feast after her stirring defense of “the City of Lights and the country of the Enlightenment.” I have yet to see this video with English subtitles, but it should be as widely disseminated as possible.


    • November 21, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      On a aussi Tatie Danielle but that’s another story. 🙂

      I tracked down the video and here’s what “Mamie” Danielle said:
      « C’est important d’apporter des fleurs à nos morts. C’est très important de voir plusieurs fois le livre d’Hemingway Paris est une fête parce que nous sommes une civilisation très ancienne et nous porterons au plus haut nos valeurs et nous fraterniserons avec 5 millions de musulmans qui exercent leur religion librement et gentiment et nous nous battrons contre les 10 000 barbares qui tuent soit disant au nom d’Allah. »

      I know you don’t need my translation, but if other readers want to understand this paragraph, I have to translate it. So, here’s what Danielle said to journalists, obviously near the scene of last week’s events:

      “It’s important to bring flowers to our dead. It’s very important to see several times the book A Moveable Feast by Hemingway because we are a very old civilisation and we will carry our colours high and we wil fraternise with the 5 millions of muslims who practise their faith freely and peacefully and we will fight against the 10 000 barbarians who, so they say, kill in the name of Allah.”


  7. November 21, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks for the post, Emma. Glad to know that the citizens of Paris are trying to get back to everyday life. Sorry to know that the Festival of Lights at Lyon has been cancelled. But nice to know that you will lighting candles in your windows. Take care.


    • November 22, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks for your kind message, Vishy.


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