Window of La Fèe Cabosse in Dinan




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and watch out for that flying bell!

Chocolate fish wrapped in silver foilEaster starts on April 1 with the “Poissons d’Avril” meaning “April fish”. These little chocolate fish (wrapped in shiny foil) are on sale from that date and throughout the Easter period.


A "Poisson d'Avril" also refers to an April 1 joke when children have traditionally stuck paper fish on the back of adults and then run away calling out “Poisson d’Avril”. The aim is to get the paper fish stuck on the backs of as many adults as possible. So watch your back on April 1!

The Boulangerie and Chocolaterie windows are full of impressive Easter displays of eggs, rabbits and also bells! Why bells?

Flying bellLes “Cloches de Pâques” (Easter Bells) originate from a time when it was forbidden to ring the Church bells between Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday as a act of respect for Jesus Christ’s death.  The bells come to life again ringing out joyfully on Easter Sunday to celebrate Christ's resurrection. It was believed that the bells flew to Rome on the evening of Maundy Thursday where they were blessed by the Pope. On their way home the bells collected  Easter Eggs which fell in gardens to be collected by children on Easter Sunday after the bells rang out. "La chasse aux oeufs" (Egg hunt) is equally popular in other countries!

A traditional French Easter game is for children to roll raw eggs down a slope with the unbroken egg becoming the winner. This game symbolises the rolling away of the stone from Christ’s tomb.

Apparently the present day Easter Egg giving tradition started in Alsace with written mention of this at the begining of the 17th Century.


Another Alsace tradition is the eating of Osterlammele which are biscuits baked in a clay mould in the shape of a lamb. Osterlammele were presented to children after the Easter Monday church service and this tradition continues as the prettily decorated biscuits are sold in the boulangeries of Alsace.

Alsace heralds in Easter with house windows decorated with branches covered with decorative eggs, flowers and small figurines.  Children make nests from moss or leaves and twigs and leave these in the garden so that the bells can drop the eggs into them as they fly past.

In France Easter Sunday and Monday are public holidays but surprisingly not Good Friday when business and shops are open as usual.

Easter EggsThe word Pâcques – French for Easter – derives from the Latin word Pascua meaning Food.  Easter is the time for feasting and celebrating following the long Lenten period.  The traditional Easter Sunday lunch is roast lamb for main course with entrées including quiche or omelette in some form.


Lent of course starts in February following the Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)  celebrations. Mardi Gras is hugely popular throughout France where there are parades through towns, people dress up in costumes and of course pancakes are served!