Celebrating Easter in France

17th February, 2016
Just like in many other primarily Christian countries, Easter, or Paques in French, is an important holiday in France, celebrated with its own traditions, many of them revolving around food. If you’re staying at one of our villas in France during this holiday time, why not find out how you can join in with the celebrations and commemorate Easter like the French do?

In France, Easter consists of a long weekend, or even a week-long holiday, where people take the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing break or visit family and friends. On Easter Sunday itself, there are several holiday traditions, with the first being an Easter egg hunt in the morning for the children. These are normally small and plain chocolate eggs, but there has been a rising trend for chocolatiers to create oversized and ornamental eggs which are given to loved ones as gifts.

As well as the Easter egg hunt, there are also other traditional games played which involve raw eggs, such as seeing who can throw and catch an egg the longest without breaking it. Another game involves rolling a raw egg down a hill, much like the stone rolling away from Jesus’ tomb, with the child whose egg travels the furthest named the winner.

Much of the French Easter celebrations, however, are centred on the dinner table, with the special meal consisting of several courses accompanied with plenty of wine. The meal begins with a starter, most likely a cold starter, though soup is sometimes served. The main course then follows, which is typically a meat dish. Lamb is traditionally the French Easter meat of choice, with many families observing this by serving a rack of lamb with a herb rub or sauce, though some families also serve ham or other choice cuts. After the main course, there is normally a short break where everyone relaxes at the table drinking wine, followed by a traditional cheese plate and baguettes. Expect to be served several varieties of cheeses, including both popular and local kinds. Finally, the meal is topped off with a dessert, which normally includes chocolate of some kind, whether it is a key ingredient or part of a sauce or topping. The Easter meal is meant to be enjoyed slowly, with family and friends gathering to celebrate the occasion, and so the dinner can last several hours.

You may also like: 5 unusual French Christmas traditions

Image: Victor Hanacek, available under Creative Commons