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.
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.
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.
This weekend is a particularly good time to be in Paris. Saturday and Sunday, September 21 - 22, 2019, mark the 36th edition of the Journées du patrimoine, also called the European Heritage Days.
If you’ll be in Paris this Friday, September 13th, large strikes will be affecting most public transportation. Transport unions have called for a grève in protest against pension reforms and the RATP (the Parisian transport operator) foresees 'heavily disrupted' traffic conditions.