Lyon, France is even more beautiful than Grenoble during the Christmas season. The city is much larger than Grenoble and reminds me much of Paris. The Rhone and Saone rivers surround the main part of the city. Like the Seine River flows around the Ile de la Cite et Ile de Saint-Louis, the Saone and Rhone rivers surround the major pedestrian areas, with beautiful bridges and breathe-taking views
. During the first weekend of December, Lyon features their annual "Fete des Lumieres" (Festival of Lights). There are Christmas lights strung up around the whole city. And starting at nightfall, light shows are played throughout the city. For example, in one small square, a pin ball game was displayed on the facade of a building. At the bottom two large paddles were displayed and the windows, columns and arches of the facade are turned into lights for the pin ball game. As the show starts, the sounds of a pin ball machine are played, while a white ball of light is hit by one of the paddles. The ball travels along the facade of the building, hitting the windows and columns, as if gaining points on a pin ball machine. The crowd is almost more exciting to watch, as the ball travels along the facade, groups of heads turn up, down, left, right to see where the ball will travel next. "oooo's" and "ahhh's" irrupt as the ball dances along the building. One of the coolest things I have ever seen.
Christmas in Grenoble is absolutely stunning. Lights are strung up all up and down the streets. They've opened small Christmas markets in all the public squares. You can buy toys, gifts, chocolate, wine, vin chaud (hot, spiced wine), tartiflette (a special regional dish from the Rhone-Alps: contains potatoes, ham, cheese and depending on the recipe, other types of veggies), chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and other Christmas goodies. I just wish I could send back a giant wheel of cheese and bottle of specialty wine for everyone in America. Flying back certain goods is a little tough, when passing through U.S. customs.