April 16, 2014
Easter is one of the most important Christian holiday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, 3 days after his crucifixion. It is celebrated on the first Sunday after a full moon following the March equinox (March 21st). Traditions and dates may vary from eastern to western countries, and France has some specific Easter traditions. But what is the Easter tradition in Paris and what is there to do on Easter weekend (April 19th and 20th) in the French capital?
Rabbit or Bells
On Good Friday, the day in memory of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, a vow of silence is requested by the church and therefore no bells are rung that day. The explanation for this unusual silence given by the parents to their children was that all the bells had flown away to Rome. In France, it is said that the bells come back on Sunday and bring with them little chocolate eggs. But in some regions (North, North-East), it is the Easter bunny that brings those cacao delights.
Parisianist Fun Fact: The rabbit (hare) is the emblematic animal of the Goddess Ostara, ancient goddess of the East in Germany and worshipped on the day when the sun rises in the perfect eastern axis (March equinox). This gave the name Easter as well as the legend of the rabbit.
Speaking of chocolate egg hunts, here are some hunts that will surely please the young ones:
- Egg hunt in the Champs de Mars, the park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower from 10am to 5pm on Sunday. Meeting point at the opposite side of the Park (in front of Ecole Militaire)
- Egg hunt in the Renoir Gardens, located in the Montmartre Museum from 2pm to 5:30pm on Sunday (12-14 Rue Cortot, Paris 18th)
- Egg hunt in the Hard Rock Café, during brunch on Sunday. The kids will be on the hunt, while you will enjoy the nice ambiance and food of the Hard Rock Café. (14 Boulevard Montmartre, Paris 9th)
- Egg hunt at Disney Village, right next to the Disneyland Paris amusement park, between 4pm and 6pm on Sunday, suitable for kinds between 3 and 10 years old.
You don’t feel like going out for a chocolate egg hunt and the weather forecast in France is way too unreliable to plan an outside activity? Here are some shops where you will find delicious Easter treats:
- Located on Place de la Madeleine, Fauchon has a great selection of cholocate delights to please both young and old. They do not have easter decorations in their shop windows, unlike Hédiard, also on Place de la Madeleine and opposite Fauchon.
- Probably one of the best chocolate chef in Paris, Pierre Hermé has many locations in the French capital. Try the one at 18 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie to buy some of their world famous specialties.
- The food areas of the Parisian department stores, such as the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet Haussmann and La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché, are also good locations for great chocolate.
- One of the most beautiful chocolate stores in Paris is Patrick Rogers. Also on Place de la Madeleine, the modern shop window and its huge chocolate decorations with leave you… hungry!
Although for most people, Easter is a fun and colourful holiday, it is first and foremost a religious holiday. Here are 2 iconic churches where you can attend the Easter mass:
- Notre Dame Cathedral: The Sunday 8:30am mass will be in French but there is an international mass at 11:30am. A mass in this 850 year old building will surely leave you mesmerized.
- Sacré Coeur: The Solemn Mass of the Resurrection is celebrated on Sunday at 11am in the Sacré Coeur basilica, dominating the hill and neighborhood of Montmartre.
Out of the Ordinary
For those who still want to have that Easter feel, but don’t necessarily want to hunt eggs with all the children, we suggest the Egg Hunt “Pâques Attaque” (Easter Attacks) in the Manoir de Paris. This egg hunt is not for the faint of heart, as it takes place in the haunted museum of Paris. Get ready for some adrenaline and shivers! (18 rue du Paradis, Metro 4: Chateau d’Eau, on Sunday afternoon.
Another off the beaten path suggestion is the “Beauty and the Beast(iary)” treasure hunt in the Louvre, from 10:30am to 1 pm on Saturday April 19th. This is a perfect way to mix the fun of a real treasure hunt and the cultural riches of the Louvre.
Of course, there are the ones that aren’t as interested in celebrating Easter or might be already preparing for bikini season (no chocolate for you!). Here’s something cultural that might be of interest, both historically, architecturally, artistically and visually: the Château de Fontainebleau. 200 years ago, on April 20th 1814, Napoleon bid farewell to his troops in the court of Honor of the Château. A celebration with a reenactment of the historical scene will be held at 3pm on Sunday in that same Court of Honor.