Easter (“Pâques”) is an important holiday in France. It is of course a religious holiday, marking the resurrection of Jesus. Many of France’s traditions during Pâques stem from old Catholic customs. Like many other historically Catholic countries France is a big fan of Easter. All around the country, you will see shopfronts and bakeries decorated with chocolate rabbits, chickens, bells and other signs of spring – even fish, for France’s version of April’s Fools’ Day, which they call poisson d’avril.
The Easter bunny isn’t quite as popular here in France as in other countries, as traditionally it is the cloches volantes or flying bells that bring the treats for the children. French Catholic tradition says that on Good Friday, all church bells in France sprout wings and fly down to the Vatican to be blessed by the Pope. So no church bells ring between Friday and Easter Sunday morning, to commemorate the death of Jesus. After their getaway to Italy, the bells return to France laden with goodies for the children. In the old days, the eggs were real eggs, hard boiled and decorated, colored in red with onion, pink with radish and green with ivy. Can you imagine, Katie would just find hard boiled eggs in the garden instead on chocolate ones……
Of course, Easter involves some delicious traditional food. The traditional main course is “gigot d’agneau et flageolets” (roast lamb with spring beans) while dessert is very often a “nid de pâques”, a nest-shaped pastry made only during this period and decorated with bird figurines (photo © Jean-Claude Amiel).
There are many local pastries made only for this time of year, like the La Mouna (brioche).
Joyeux Pâques and welcome spring!!