Fancy an illuminating experience? The 10 best light shows in France

Between Angels and Demons at the cathedral in Le Mans. Pic: Mila Simakova

Between Angels and Demons at the cathedral in Le Mans. Pic: Mila Simakova - Credit: Archant

These light shows in France offer a spectacular new way to see a city and learn all about its past

Hotel de Ville Paris Nuit Blanche. Pic: Piero dHouin

Hotel de Ville Paris Nuit Blanche. Pic: Piero dHouin - Credit: Archant

Les Habits de Lumière, Epernay

For three days in December more than 40,000 people gather in the Champagne capital Epernay to enjoy dazzling sound and light shows, illuminations and projections. As you would expect from its location, the event also has plenty of bubbly on offer and is even held on the aptly-named Avenue de Champagne. There are Champagne tasting, bars, cooking demonstrations and activities for children in a welcoming and friendly environment. This year’s event takes place from Friday to Sunday, December 14-16.

Nuit Blanche, Paris

Fete des Lumieres in Lyon. Pic: Kaloyan Krasimirov Stoyanov

Fete des Lumieres in Lyon. Pic: Kaloyan Krasimirov Stoyanov - Credit: Archant

This year’s ‘white night’ is taking place on October 6 with residents and visitors invited to explore the city in a different way than they ever would have before. For sixteen years the event has seen several parts of the city lit up by moonlight, neon and other light, with artists providing installations, exhibitions, concerts and performances. This year’s director is Gaël Charbau and events will take place between 7pm-7am, with many amenities opening late and transport running throughout, to ensure everyone gets home safely.

Fête des Lumières, Lyon

The Festival of Lights in Lyon always offers a bountiful feast for the senses with spectacular displays being held over four nights this year. A variety of talented artists will light-up buildings, streets, squares and parks in ever more ingenious ways, between December 6-9. Over 50 light installations will be on offer in what is thought to be the world’s largest visual arts festival.

Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes, Versailles. Pic: Jérémy Flavien

Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes, Versailles. Pic: Jérémy Flavien - Credit: Archant

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Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes, Versailles

One of the grandest ways to watch a light show must be at the Château de Versailles, where every Saturday evening during the summer, visitors can take a stroll through the magnificent gardens with fountains lit-up in myriad colours, set to music and even a fireworks finale. Guests can leave the outside world behind and become immersed in the grandeur of their surroundings as statues and fountains are decorated with thousands of lights, surreal illuminations come to life and the Sun King’s music follows wherever you go.

Sound and Light Show, Blois

This stunning show is said to be better than ever this year with new technology bringing the walls of the Château Royal de Blois to life like never before. Once night falls, the story of Blois begins with visitors treated to the interesting history of the castle, its occupants and famous visitors with live action scenes projected onto the building. Lighting effects hug the shape of the castle and wide-eyed viewers enjoy the show set to music and narration to guide them through the story in style. Blois is a hillside city on the Loire, sat between Orléans and Tours. The show is on offer until Sunday, September 23.

Rouen Cathedral of Notre Dame light show

Every summer between June and September, residents and visitors to Rouen gather around the cathedral to watch the free light show. After dark, couples, families, groups and tourists all make a beeline for the Place de la Cathédrale to witness the light and sound show. This year’s themes are Guillaume Le Conquérant (William the Conqueror) and Vikings. Shows run nightly until September 22.

La Nuit des Chimères, Le Mans

It’s not all about racing in Le Mans, which likes to offer visitors plenty of choice when it comes to its light shows, with seven different projections sites, telling different stories, spread over the city. Among the choices are Between Angels and Demons, which lights up the Cathedral Chevet, Birth of the Chimera illuminating Jacobins Fountain and Masks and the Dragon will delight visitors to the Saint-Hilaire Wall. This year’s event has been running since July but you’ll have to be quick to catch it, as it comes to an end on September 1. Better get planning for next year!

The Parliament Illuminations, Rennes

Le Parlement de Bretagne in Brittany’s capital provides a suitably grand backdrop for this show organised by Rennes Métropole and the city of Rennes, as part of the Transat en Ville event. The building is used as a giant screen and tens of thousands of bulbs make up the moving images in the 17 minute nightly show, suitable for all ages. The spectacle allows visitors to discover the city’s heritage in a new way, notably the parliament building - one of Brittany’s most distinctive symbols – which is still used to this day as the regional court of appeal. Starting in July, the shows come to an end on September 1.

Couleurs d’amour, Bourg-en-Bresse

Le Monastère Royal de Brou takes on many forms in this show with the skilled lighting engineers turning it into everything from a Hindu temple to the pyramids of Egypt. Returning for its third edition, Couleurs d’amour has attracted almost 100,000 visitors to its show, where illuminations can also be seen at du Théâtre Municipal and de l’Hôtel de Ville. This year’s new show, which began in July, promises plenty of surprises, and can be viewed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings until September 8.

And rounding off the list is perhaps the most viewed night show of them all - the

Eiffel Tower in Paris. Residents and tourists can enjoy the stunning light show from various city vantage points every night with five minutes shows on the hour from when darkness falls until 1am. The lasers and sparkling lights are a view to behold and offer a different way to enjoy one of the world’s most famous attractions.

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