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Easter in France

Celebrating Pâques in Paris

If you're in Paris over Easter weekend, you'll likely find many aspects of French celebrations familiar, but there are some interesting particularities about the way the holiday is celebrated in France.

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.

What About the Easter Bunny?

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!

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. Dozens of Easter egg hunts happen all over Paris, a few of which we’ve highlighted in our April Events Article.

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.

Other Family Traditions

Families also often attend Easter Mass together. In Paris, several cathedrals and churches have special services during Holy Week. See the Paris Visitor’s Bureau Website for a complete list. 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.

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