The build up to Christmas is undoubtedly one of the most exciting period of the British calendar. Between the Christmas songs blasting in the supermarkets, Elf on the T.V, Christmas nights out and overindulgence on mince pies it’s impossible to not catch at least a little bit of the Christmas spirit. As I was sitting with my feet up in my favourite Christmas jumper the other day I reflected on my favourite parts of last year’s festivities during my Erasmus year in Lyon (France). Here’s a few reasons why spending Christmas in Lyon wasn’t all that bad…
Folie Douce Opening Party (Skiing!!!)- 3rd December
The shortening nights and plummeting temperatures aren’t always such a depressing aspect of the Christmas period- especially when the Alps are only a short bus ride away!
Each year, to kick off the ski season, the swanky après bar La Folie Douce throws a huge, all day, party on the slopes. With Lyon being so close to the mountains you can get a coach (there and back), a ski pass and ski hire for only 45 euros! The bus picks you up from Lyon at a ridiculously early time (around 6 in the morning) and drops you off on the slopes just in time to catch the first lift at 9 and hit the slopes. Then, what better way to reward yourself for a full mornings skiing to head to the bar for an after-lunch beer in the sun and a dance on the tables for an hour or two overlooking the magnificent mountains? After that it’s just a completely sober ski down to the bus which leaves at half 5 and brings you back home in time for tea- a perfect day.
La Fete des Lumieres- 8th – 11th December
For those looking for something a bit more cultural than a party on the slopes, the infamous light show La Fetes des Lumieres ought to whet your appetite. Each year in early December Lyon hosts the festival which millions (literally millions) of people come to visit from France and further afield for a magical weekend. The festival takes all of Lyons beautiful, old architecture bringing them alive with visual displays and music in shows that last around 10 minutes and repeat throughout the weekend. Waves of people meandering from building to building while singing and drinking mulled wine is such an amazing thing experience and is a real bucket list moment.
Christmas food and mulled wine- All the time!!
Say what you want about the French but I don’t think anyone can deny that they do eating out fairly well. In Christmas time the Bouchons (tiny, cheap French restaurants typical to Lyon) are bustling with life and the strong aromas and chatter seep onto the cobbled streets where the carol singers serenade passers-by; sounds picturesque, doesn’t it?
Oh and the wine! You would be hard pressed to walk for 5 minutes in town without spotting an enterprising young Lyonnais flogging mulled wine (or vin chaud) out of a metal pot heated by a little portable heater. I probably reached my lifetime mulled wine quota last December.
Whilst it is a truly magical in the U.K it is definitely worth taking the plunge and experiencing how other countries spend their most wonderful time of the year.