With the Easter weekend fast approaching, we’ve been busy exploring some fabulous local traditions here in South West France. Here are our faves:
￼The consumption of the ‘Cornuelle’ biscuit which is a triangular shortbread cake with a hole in the middle, supposedly a fertility cake, but also traditionally associated with Palm Sunday or as it is called in french, Le Dimanche des Rameaux.
The shortbread biscuit is brushed with egg yolk, to which a few aniseed seeds are added at all three corners.
The two artisan bakers of Villebois where it was created jealously guard their recipe which they hold courtesy of their respective predecessors. This mysterious little shortbread is truly addictive!
The village celebrates with an annual festival, where ginormous Cornuelles are baked and take pride of place in a precession before being broken and shared among the people.
In this part of France, box-tree branches instead of palms are used to commemorate the Dimanche des Rameaux. Box-tree, as a perennial shrub with very resilient dark green leaves is an ideal symbol of life.
￼The festival attracts a very large audience and about 12 000 cornuelles are sold in one day!
Apart form the blessing ceremony and a bright and colourful procession of the giant cornuelles with many in costume, there is loads of family fun to enjoy.
Many of the villages in the region are beautifully decorated with copious greenery of box twigs on store fronts, along the streets, the open town Hall square, anywhere and everywhere! There is often a flea market on, children’s workshops, pony rides, horse drawn carriage rides, exhibitions, competitions and a chance to visit any of the numerous stunning Chateaus, all garlanded up for the Easter season.
Traditionally for France, the Easter Bunny is replaced by the ‘Flying Bells’, or ‘cloches volantes’. As the Catholic tale goes; all French church bells grow wings on Good Friday and fly to the Vatican in Rome, to get blessed by the Pope. They return on Easter Sunday bearing chocolate treats for the children, wildly ringing their arrival in the Easter Sunday church service. Love this! ❤️
Not a chocolate fan? Well how about a giant omelette instead?!The town of Bessieres, in the south-west of France, has started their own Easter tradition, involving a vast number of eggs! As a way of remembering the time Napoleon Bonaparte and his army stayed in the town and were fed on one massive omelette, the townspeople gather on Easter Monday to make an omelette to rival all others! The people of Bessieres turn out in their drones for this celebration, with 40 official chefs and 10,000 people lending a hand!
A whopping 15,000 eggs are used to fill the four-metre pan, and the mixture is stirred with, what is essentially, a ginormous spatula! What a smashing way to eat! Smashing….get it!?Sorry!!!!
￼Staying on theme with eggs, here’s some more traditions the kids will love!
Real eggs are used widely at French Easter parties. Like many places in the UK, French towns host egg-rolling competitions, with the egg that survives its tumble down a hill crowned the winner!
Children are also known to throw raw eggs into the air, with the first child to break their egg losing the game, and sometimes even made to forfeit some of their Easter chocolate to the other children as a penalty! Mmmmm…not sure about this one!
Whatever way you’re celebrating Easter, we wish you a very happy and healthy one from all of us here in sunny France and if you’ve not visited us yet, we hope you’ll consider booking soon.
joyeuses Pâques (Happy Easter)