There are several legends and traditions tied up in this festival--all of them in some way linked to the Virgin Mary. According to some, she saved the city from the plague whereas others state that she saved them from the Prussians. Any way you slice it, December 8th attracts millions of people to the streets of Lyon each year. Unfortunately, I was in Nice that day...but--to regulate some of the traffic, the festival has been extended to the days preceding the actual celebration! So, joining with a few pals, I set off to investigate two days earlier when the crowds were nowhere near as insane (rumor has it it was impossible to move in the entire downtown area, because there were literally wall-to-wall people).
I have to admit...I was initially a bit disappointed. While there were a fair amount of lights strung up between buildings, I didn't see much to convince me that Lyon's fête was really all that. That was, of course, until we came across this: