International Space Station engineer Thomas Pesquet may have an unrivalled view of glowing galaxies and sparkling stars, but it was an illumination of a different kind that caught his eye this week: Lyon’s annual Fêtes de Lumieres (Festival of Lights).
While millions attended the dazzling event, which saw over 70 light installations set up across the city’s buildings, parks and squares, the French astronaut basked in its glow from outer space. He then took a photo of city in full glare and uploaded it to Twitter.
Fêtes de Lumieres will run until 10 December and this year’s highlights include a life-sized steel stegosaurus which sits atop a shipping container; a poetic epic of lights and lasers flashed across Saint-Jean Cathedral; and hanging Chinese lanterns along Rue de la République which were created in collaboration with Zigong city in China.
The event, which first began in 1852, also has an interesting back story. In celebration of a new statue of the Virgin Mary being erected on the Fourvière hill on 8 September, locals were asked to put lamps out on their balconies and window sills to light the city.
However, the River Saône overflowed and the event was cancelled. It was pushed back to 8 December, but a storm meant the event was cancelled again. As the weather bettered, locals spontaneously lit lamps on their balconies and the festival has continued ever since.