Easter in France
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In France, Easter (or Pâques) festivities are centered around family and religion, with many traditions and symbols coming from the country’s Catholic roots. In fact, church bells play a very prominent role in the holiday here.
Beginning on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday just before Easter), France’s church bells stay silent for three days, mourning the death of Jesus as told in the Bible. If you’ve never been to Paris before, you might not notice the quiet clôches initially, but you’ll certainly notice the difference when all the church bells ring joyously on Easter morning to mark the resurrection.
Is there an Easter Bunny in France?
This church bell tradition is at the origin of a little tale told to children. To explain why the bells don’t ring during that time, the story goes that they all flew off to Rome to be blessed by the Pope and, apparently, to stock up on sweets. The bells then fly back home just in time for Easter, dropping off chocolates on the way. That’s right, in France, flying bells bring the eggs! Not a bunny!
Easter egg hunts in Paris
On Easter morning, children search for the chocolate eggs, rabbits, and bells left behind in the yard, or, if they live in Paris, in one of the city’s parks. Typically, dozens of chasses aux oeufs happen all over Paris, but usually reservations are required.
Some of the best Easter egg hunts in Paris take place in the pretty Jardins Renoir of the Musée de Montmartre (reserve your spots here, site in French), the elegant gardens of the Musée Rodin (reserve here, site in French only) and the Jardins des Champs-Elysées (reservation details on the Facebook page of the local neighborhood association, in French).
Grown ups, you can get in on the delicious Easter chocolates too! Just head to any one of Paris’s amazing chocolatiers to find some tasty works of art.
Won’t be in Paris for Pâques this year? Don’t worry, you can still get your French sugar fix as some of the best sweet shops in Paris deliver, including Ladurée and Alain Ducasse.
Other French Easter traditions
French families also often attend Easter Mass together. In Paris, several cathedrals and churches have special services during Holy Week. A complete list is available each year on the Paris Visitor’s Bureau Website.
If you’re not in Paris, you can still enjoy streams of Holy Week services from the French capital. Some parishes are broadcasting masses on television channel KTO or on YouTube, so you can worship wherever you are and bring a touch of that Parisian Pâques experience into your home. Stream services from Paris’s Paroisse Saint-Germain-des-Prés or Notre-Dame-Des-Champs.
After church, and following any Easter egg hunting, everyone typically shares a meal, leg of lamb being the traditional Easter dish. For those who lack the space or cooking skills to invite everyone over, many restaurants also offer a special Easter Sunday brunch.
And after Easter Sunday? Easter Monday, bien sûr! The Monday following Easter is a national holiday in France, so many businesses are closed and family time can continue for another day.
Editor’s note: Article originally published April 18, 2019. Last updated March 31, 2023.
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