It’s hard to think of anywhere better to spend Easter than in France, home to chocolate shops galore!
Easter falls between March and April and that’s good news because generally by April the air warms up and with luck the sun will be shining. And, the chocolate shops of France are filled with sweet temptation. Here are some of our favourite things to do at Easter in France.
Traditions of Easter in France
Tradition in France has it that on the Thursday before Easter, all the church bells go silent, sprout wings and fly off to Rome to visit the Pope. Then they load up with chocolate and fly back to France dropping their sugary load off for children all over the country in time. Of course, they’re back in Church to ring the bells on Easter Sunday! (Read more about the Easter Bells here).
Easter bunnies are generally not a thing in France – instead there are Easter bells, called Cloches de Pâques, although bunnies have become more popular in recent years all over France and particularly in the north east part of France where they do have chocolate rabbits rather than bells.
The French are a nation of chocolate lovers and have been ever since it was introduced to 13 year old King Louis XIII by his bride to be, Anne of Austria. In those days only royalty and the super-rich could afford chocolate but when the general public got a chance to taste it, they never looked back.
Where ever you are in France, the chances are, you’ll not be far from a chocolate shop and at Easter you’re guaranteed to see a chocolate bell! The French eat around 13,000 tonnes of Chocolate at this time of the year and consider it to be “the food of happiness”.
Join an Easter Egg hunt in France
Easter egg hunts are popular in France, check at local tourist offices to find out what’s on nearby. Some of the best events are organised by the Monuments National, (like The National Trust) at more than 50 national treasures.
One of the most fun Easter egg hunts is at the captivating Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte in Maincy, Ile de France (top photo), about an hour from the centre of Paris. Children of all ages will love hunting for the many thousands of Easter eggs hidden in the beautiful gardens created by André Le Nôtre, the famed garden designer of the 17th Century whose other notable gardens include Versailles.
Check the website for details of the Easter egg hunt: www.vaux-le-vicomte.com.
This is what you call an egg at Easter
In the little town of Bessieres in southwestern France, north of the Haute-Garonne on the border of the Tarn, they put their heart and soul into eggs at Easter – real eggs that is.
Every year on Easter Monday, around 10,000 people gather to watch around 50 volunteer cooks make a giant omelette, made with 15,000 fresh eggs in a giant four-meter pan. It takes an hour and a half just to break the eggs and then they stir it with a telephone pole while the mix gently simmers for 30 minutes.
Apparently the event is in honour of a night when Napoleon Bonaparte and his army. The emperor enjoyed an omelette made by the innkeeper when he spent a night close bu and ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs in the village to make a gigantic omelette for his army to eat the next day.