The Lenten season is a delightful time to be in France, beginning with the grande Nice carnavale and ending with Easter Sunday … and Monday celebrations. A blend of Spring awakening, religious and cultural traditions leave you twirling about in a sensuous overload!
Tulips explode from the soil like elegant dancers in the bold jewel-toned colors. Window displays never fail to evoke a smile for the whimsical characters and settings the creators deliver. Absurdly delicious chocolates abound. Children gather with parents in the parks, and elder stroll arm in arm before the Eiffel Tower. Whether you celebrate the Resurrection of Christ or the happiness of the Easter season, the sights and scents are glorious.
One religious tradition in France that differs from the United States is the “delivery” system for all of those eggs and candies that mysteriously appear in homes and around yards. No rabbit involved in France! Tradition calls for silencing of all church bells – Les Cloches Volants – in somber remembrance of the death of Jesus. They are quiet from the Thursday before Easter, when children believe the bells have flown to Rome to see the Pope. The return of their resonant pealing on Sunday morning signals that the flying bells have returned to deliver chocolate chickens, eggs and bunnies.
Eggs represent another favorite French tradition, symbolizing a departure from the hardship of Lent. Perhaps no French town or village takes this egg celebration to a greater extreme than in Bessières in the Midi-Pyrénées near Toulouse. On Easter Monday, the village celebrates with a giant omelette festival. (Watch festival preparations here).
In a phenomenal 12-foot pan, weighing a ton, Chefs create a giant omelet of 10,000 eggs, providing a plentiful meal for all festival attendees. It is a tradition begun nearly 40 years and has now spread to the United States and Japan.