Easter in France – American bunny v French bell!

Written by on April 17, 2014 in French Icons

French Easter card

The traditions of France are many and often unique to the French having developed over centuries. Margo Lestz investigates Easter in France where the customs involve a flying bell! 

As an American living in France, I learned a long time ago that the two cultures have different ideas about many (if not most) things.  Still, I was surprised to discover that there was no Easter Bunny in France.  But fear not, the French have come up with another method to distribute those Easter eggs to their children.

American Easter cardFirst, let’s talk about the American Easters of my childhood. The preparation would start the day before Easter when we decorated hard boiled eggs.  We used some kind of dye that required vinegar and the whole house smelled of vinegar. Then we had various markers and stickers to add those special touches.  At night we would place all of our beautifully (and artistically) decorated eggs on the table and go to bed.

While we slept, the Easter Bunny would come and hide all the eggs outside in the lawn, in trees, in the house, everywhere.  Then before hopping away, he would leave us a basket full of candy (that was definitely my favourite part) including chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, chocolate chickens, chocolate…well you get the idea.

The next morning, we would find our basket of goodies, have a little pre-breakfast chocolate, and then go out into the yard to hunt for the eggs the rabbit had hidden.  Over the next week we would crack open the decorated shells and eat the hard-boiled, eggs – but only after all of the chocolate was gone, of course.

Looking back, it does seem a bit odd that a rabbit would hop around to our house once a year to hide the eggs that we had worked so hard to decorate.  But what happens in France seems even more bizarre.

Easter in France does not involve the  Easter Bunny – except in the north east, close to the German border.  There, children make little nests which they place in the garden and during the night, the German Easter Bunny hops across the border and fills them with Easter eggs.  Otherwise, a French Easter goes something like this:

easter bells in FranceOn the Thursday night before Easter, all the church bells go silent and they won’t be heard from again until Easter Sunday.  Why?  Well, this is the strange part. They sprout wings, pack up their suitcases and fly off to Rome. They go to Rome to visit the Pope, but I imagine they probably have enough time do a little sight-seeing or fly around to Italian bell towers visiting relatives as well.  But what they do in their private time isn’t our concern here.

After the Vatican visit, they must go to the market where they load up their suitcases with chocolate.  Chocolate eggs, chocolate rabbits, chocolate chicks, and chocolate bells (in their honour), of course. The chocolate April Fool’s fish are still around so they throw those in too – they do double duty as Easter fish.

As they make their way back to France, and to their respective steeples, on Easter eve, they drop these chocolaty treats at the houses of children along their flight path.  After making deliveries all night long, they have to be up bright and early the next morning to ring in Easter Sunday.  When the children hear the bells ringing, they run outside to hunt for the goodies that the Cloches de Pâques, or “Easter Bells” have left them.

The Easter Bell egg delivery system is an interesting idea, but I think I still prefer the good old American Easter Bunny.  Bunnies are adorable; they hop and wiggle their noses while bells are cold and not very cuddly. I have to admit though, that growing wings and flying to Rome is pretty impressive.

Even thought the two cultures have very different ways of dispensing their Easter eggs, does it really matter?  They both cling to the most important tradition – eating lots of chocolate.


Margo Lestz lives in Nice, France where she likes to bask in the sunshine, study the French language and blog as thecuriousrambler. Margo says “Life is never boring and I learn something new every day… and there are always surprises”.

Related Articles

Guide to the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur Paris

You might think, when you visit Montmartre and gaze at the beautiful church of Sacré-Coeur, perched on a hill in the highest part of Paris, that is has been there for centuries. There is something timeless about the iconic luminous domes, pure white walls and elegant lines. But this is a relatively modern church. The […]

Continue Reading

History of the French Flag

History of the French Flag

Written by on July 19, 2019 in French Icons

The French call their flag Le drapeau tricolore. English speakers know it as the French Tricolore. It’s one of the most iconic flags in European history. But how did it come to be? The evolution of the French Flag The flag of France before the French Revolution featured the fleur-de-lis on a blue background. The […]

Continue Reading

The Pyramid at the Louvre

The Pyramid at the Louvre

Written by on March 28, 2019 in French Icons, Paris

When it comes to innovation in architecture, Paris has long been a leader and in the last 150 years, dozens of architectural gems have made it famous for originality and boldness. Just a few include the Eiffel Tower, Pompidou centre, the Louis Vuitton Foundation and La Grande Arche in the Défense business district. These new […]

Continue Reading

Who was Jean Jaurès | History of France

Wherever you go in France you’re sure to come across a Place Jean Jaurès, a rue Jean Jaurès, Avenue Jean Jaurès, schools and even metro stations of that name in Paris and Lyon. Every French school child will learn about Jean Jaurès. He is one of the most well-known figures of French history, though he […]

Continue Reading

A Soap story from Marseille | Savon de Marseille

Genuine Marseille soap is made by artisans with the provenance, passion and long-standing tradition in their blood to lay claim to makers of genuine Marseilles soap. A bar that contains 72% olive oil – and once tried, you will always be loyal to its soapy concoction. History of Marseille Soap In 1688 Louis IV passed […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.