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  • Writer's pictureMallory Warner

Les Pâques: Celebrating Easter in France

Photo courtesy of Jours Heureux

My first trip to France in 2003 fell during the Easter holiday in France. I was a 16-year-old high school student staying with a family in La Rochelle. The family I had spent the week with left early that morning for their family vacation (my French language skills were terrible, I had no idea this was happening, and I sent myself into a bit of a panic). To my relief, I was welcomed into the host family of another student from our group and soon joined their Easter celebration. What I remember most about that meal was the boiled crayfish and the grilled meats. It was the first time I had boudin noir or blood sausage, which I enjoyed. We dined casually on their patio before heading to the seaside for a kite festival.

In 2007 while studying abroad in Lille, a group of friends and I ventured to Easter Mass at the L'église Saint-Cristophe in Tourcoing. The service was given in French, though the gist was the same as I experienced in Catholic churches in the U.S. While I am not particularly religious, I am always amazed at the splendor of Easter mass, when Christians come out of their mourning for the death of Jesus and celebrate his rebirth. After the service, we gathered in the little basement kitchen of my dorm to enjoy a meal of frozen quiche à la carrefour.

Set against the backdrop of spring, a French Easter brings the celebration of new life. Flowers and blossoms are everywhere. The holiday is a time for sharing a meal with family, much like the one I experienced in 2003. Different regions of France celebrate with other traditions. While traveling through western France, I did not find chocolate eggs but seashells or Fritures de Pâques adorning the shop windows.

I incorporate a bit of Frenchness into my Easter plans by roasting a provencal style leg of lamb and preparing a leek quiche. Harkening back to my first Easter in France, I also try to include some shellfish, though I have yet to revisit the boudin noir.

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