Posted by on 01 Nov 2019 , in Europe
Celebrating Easter in France is likely a little different than what you might be used to. Easter (Pâques in French) is an important occasion in France not only for religious reasons but also as a time to host family gatherings and to welcome the arrival of Spring, it is also a time when French tourism booms. Here are 10 special ways how you can share in the celebration in true French style…
1. Start with learning some French History.
For example, did you know that in France, it is not the Easter Bunny that brings children their delicious chocolate eggs, but rather les cloche volant, or flying bells? Catholic tradition dictates that Church bells should not ring between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. According to one version of this tradition, the bells flew to Rome during this time to be blessed by the Pope, carrying with them the grief of those who mourned Jesus' crucifixion. On Easter Sunday, the flying bells would return, bringing with them chocolate and eggs. Of course, the more Germanic tradition of the Easter bunny can also be found throughout French culture, but you will still see many references to the bell in French celebrations during this important holiday. Whatever the occasion, France is rich with history and tradition - the perfect place for your next adventure.
2. Learn to cook a la française!
Not surprisingly, the love and quality of French cooking is on full display during Easter. Lamb is traditionally served as the main meal on Easter Sunday, referencing back to Christian symbolism of Jesus' role as the sacrificial lamb of the Jewish tradition, with lamb also symbolising new life and the coming of Spring. Preceding the main course, a lighter dish is usually served. This may be something like a delicate quiche or perhaps a salad of local market vegetables with a delicious vinaigrette. Learn all the techniques for preparing an Easter feast in true French style and book yourself a cooking class during your next visit.
3. Practice your French!
Joyeuses Pâques is Happy Easter, je voudrais beaucoup d'oeufs au chocolat would be a helpful phrase when ordering from the local chocolatier, and un gigot d'agneau is the perfect item on the menu to choose for your traditional Easter Sunday dinner. If you'd like to learn more French words and phrases, a language class in one of the most beautiful regions of France may be just what you are looking for!
4. See the masters at work.
Around Easter, if you were to stroll down a Parisian street, or any small French town for that matter, you will see shop fronts beautifully decorated with white and dark chocolate rabbits, chickens, bells, and even fish, all wrapped in oversized colourful bows or elegantly presented on simple gold trays. Go behind the scenes of an iconic Parisian chocolate shop and learn more about the tradition of chocolate making in France - participating in a food tour is a wonderful way to celebrate Easter in France. While in Paris, don't forget to visit the Fauchon Madeleine Boutique, a homage to all things beautiful and edible. Another local favourite is the boutique Éclair de Genie, with its delicious unique Éclair au chocolat and tempting Easter edition chocolates - you can taste Gaspard le canard (Gaspard the duck) or meet Oscar, all delicious edible works of art.
5. Book an adventure.
Easter Sunday falls on 16 April this year, and although Good Friday is not officially a public holiday in France, many take advantage of the upcoming long weekend and leave on the Friday for their short holiday or family visit. If this is your plan as well, there are many wonderful French tours and trips to take around the country, whether your timing is just a few days or even a couple of weeks. Whether you have just a few days or a couple of weeks. From cruising down the river in your own self-driven boat, enjoying the luxury of being a passenger on a crewed canal barge, or even jetting off to spend a long weekend in stunning Monaco... the choices are endless.
6. Explore Paris in the Spring.
No visit to France would be complete without a trip to Paris. It is around Easter that a beautiful sign of the arrival of Spring can be enjoyed - les cerisiers fleuris de Paris, the cherry blossoms of Paris, come into bloom on the trees around the Eiffel Tower. Pack a picnic and go and throw your blanket under one of these flowering trees, what a wonderful way to soak in the view and surrounding culture. Blossoming cherry trees can be found throughout Paris at this time of year and usually last until the middle of April.
Take advantage of the beauty of Paris in the springtime and book yourself a private apartment, a great option for those wanting their independence and to spend 5 nights or more exploring the city. Enjoy sightseeing the many wonderful French tourist attractions or book a day tour - there is so much to chose from.
7. Try old favourites with new eyes.
For many, especially those from Commonwealth countries, no Easter celebration would be complete without at least a few hot cross buns to enjoy. In some regions of France, what you will find is Brioche du Carême, small rolls made of bread containing dried fruit and marked with a cross. Are they the same as what you have grown up eating? You will have to try one to find out. Watch Brioche du Carême being made by the professionals or try making them at home with this recipe.
8. Go on an Easter egg hunt!
French children are just as enthusiastic about their Easter egg hunt, or la chasse aux oeufs, as all other children around the world. In keeping with the bell tradition, on Sunday morning a family member shouts "les cloches sont passées" and so would commence the search for hidden chocolate eggs, bunnies, chickens and more.
If you happen to be visiting France with your family this Easter and have not organised your Easter egg hunt in time, there are many places around Paris that host community Easter events. Take the children to the foot of the Eiffel Tour from 16 to 17 April, where an Easter Egg Hunt will be taking place. Imagine a child's excitement in participating in such an event? Another option is out of Paris, in the grounds of the Chateaux Vaux-le-Vicomte where the largest egg hunt in France takes place with tens of thousands of eggs to be found by both kids and their parents. It is almost worth travelling to France just for this experience! Why not take a tour there too?
9. Stop and smell the flowers.
Easter marks the beginning of Spring for many, often made visible by the blossoming of flowers. From the first weeks of March to the warmer month of May, spring flowers and fruit trees come into bloom in France. There’s a kind of magic when the first burst of colourful flowers begin to be spotted in gardens, fields and forests in France, including hyacinthe, iris, ranunculus and many people's childhood favourite, the snowdrop. A wonderful way to experience the beauty of France in Spring is through a cycling tour or walking tour, providing you full opportunity to enjoy the countryside during this beautiful season.
10. Take a moment to remember.
Easter also marks the beginning of when you might see the red poppies begin to flower in the fields and on the edges of roads and paths in France. A sign of remembrance for WWI, the poppy flowers in France between April and July. If our military past is something that interests you, there are several battlefield tour options available, allowing you to immerse yourself in a history that is close to both French and Australian hearts.
However you chose to celebrate, we hope that you and your family enjoy a wonderful Easter to come.
For more tips, special deals and information on hidden gems in France, subscribe to our newsletter today. Alternatively, if you’re still undecided on what to do this Easter in France, or would like more information to make your trip all the more memorable, check out our French tours page or contact one of our specialists for expert advice.