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Posted by on in Food & Drink

Easter in France: chocolates at the pâtisserie

Easter in France is celebrated much like in other Christian countries – families gather for big festive meals  and offer each other chocolates in the form of eggs, bunnies, fish and bells.  It is largely a secular holiday and chocolate is the star of the day.  However, unlike in many countries where Easter eggs are available as soon as the preceeding holiday is out of the way (Christmas/Valentine’s Day), in France it’s a much more restrained affair.  As I started to think about writing this article just over two weeks before Good Friday there were some chocolate eggs on display in the big supermarkets but bakeries and specialist cake and chocolate shops had no signs at all that the holiday was imminent.

Easter chocolate rooster in France

handmade French Easter eggs in unususal shapes

With this in mind I set off to find out more and recently had the pleasure of meeting the master chocolate maker in my local boulangerie-pâtisserie.  Christian Blanchard hails from Bourgogne and has worked in other parts of France as well as the USA, Ireland and Russia (where he was head pastry chef for a chain of 9 cake shops in St Petersburg).  He has been in Roquefort les Pins wielding his special sweet magic since December 2012.  As well as the chocloate, Christian makes all the cakes, tarts, desserts and savoury snacks (quiches, pies, etc) in the boulangerie.  He makes everything except the bread and he has won prizes for his delicious chocolate.

chocolatier master chocolate maker

I mentioned I was surprised that there was no sign of Easter in his shop yet and he explained that production began about a month before the date, with items going on display only 2 weeks before.  He was at pains to stress that his Easter chocolates were seasonal and he didn’t believe in extending the period of sale.  For him that completely missed the point of Easter.  If any products were left after Easter Monday they would be kept on display for a week and then melted down to be turned into something else: le produit idéal (his words), chocolate is recyclable.

chocolate for Easter in France

artisanal easter eggs in france

All the chocolates on sale in the pâtisserie-boulangerie are made by hand by Christian himself.  He uses white, dark and milk chocolate and creates eggs of all sizes, rabbits, chickens, bells, fish, petites fritures (little selections of fish and shells) and a variety of unexpected animals/creatures (horses, cartoon characters, even a treasure chest).  In fact traditional eggs are barely in evidence amongst all the other exotic shapes. However, despite this, eggs about 10 cm tall are the biggest sellers (owing to their relatively cheap price compared with more complicated designs) and unsurprisingly milk chocloate is the most popular.  Christian works with natural colourings to paint decorations on to his creations.  Each layer has to dry before more can be added which takes time.  Every year he makes one spectacular showstopper.  This year it’s a fish weighing about 1.5 kg (which at the time of publishing wasn't ready).

easter chocolates in French pâtisserie

easter fish

I asked Christian how many extra kilos of chocolate items he made at Easter, seeing as the French love their chocolate and 13,000 tonnes of it is sold every Easter!  His answer surprised me, and perhaps reflected his nature as an artist rather than business man, as he said didn’t know.  He explained that every year he plays it by ear, making as many Easter-themed chocolates as he gauges necessary and experience usually means he gets it just about right.  But the past two years local Roquefortois have eaten more than expected and the boulangerie has run out.  This meant he had to whip up extra eggs at the last minute, simple small plain ones, in order to fulfill demand. Good for business, not so good for customers wanting choice.  (Tip: don't leave your Easter shopping to the very last minute!)

Easter eggs in Roquefort les Pins France

All photos here are of Christian’s Easter creations, taken over a couple of years.  I love it that holidays in France are not too commercial and dates really are respected. (Christmas is similarly late to appear in shops.)  It’s like eating fruit and veg in season, it makes sense and everything tastes better for it.  I think it makes Easter more special.  

Easter chocolates in pâtisserie

Easter chocolate

Un grand merci to Christian and the rest of the staff at Roquefort les Pins boulangerie-pâtisserie for giving me their time and allowing me to take so many photos of their delicious Easter goodies.

boulangerie Roquefort les Pins

This post is part of Multicultural Kid Blogs Easter Around the World. Please check out the other posts in the series to read about different Easter celebrations around the world.  To find out more about France and its Easter traditions and you may like to read a previous post Easter in France.

Easter chocolate fish from Roquefort pâtisserie

When are Easter eggs available in your country?  What do you think about the timing in France, too late or just about right? 

 

Easter 2015

 

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Comments

  • Guest
    Ninja cat Monday, 23 March 2015

    There's just something divine about French chocolates.
    It's true skill in making chocolate

  • Guest
    angela hamilton Monday, 23 March 2015

    what an amazing experience. This would be a dream come true for me x

  • Guest
    lisa prince Monday, 23 March 2015

    Wow dont they look fantastic, I'm not much of a choc fan but being pregnant has brought that to a whole new level and I'm continuously enjoying the lovely taste of it.

  • Guest
    MIna Monday, 23 March 2015

    Wow what a variety of chocolates for Christmas. The Easter eggs have been on the shelves for a while in UK but they are as exciting as the French ones. I would have loved to watch him creating a chocolate horse or fish ....the detail is amazing.

  • Guest
    Erica Price Monday, 23 March 2015

    Some of those are stunning - fantastic to find out more about what's involved.

  • Guest
    Mums do travel Monday, 23 March 2015

    How wonderful to have a master chocolatier crafting Easter eggs by hand at your local cake shop! I found this really interesting to read.

  • Guest
    Michelle Monday, 23 March 2015

    I had to quickly scroll through the images because I'm on a diet - they look amazing!!

  • Guest
    Globlmouse Monday, 23 March 2015

    I love the look of these, all wrapped up with their ribbon. So much more classy than what we have here!

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Monday, 23 March 2015

    These look almost too good to eat! Though I am sure I could be tempted, what a wonderful job Christian has! x

  • Guest
    Lucie Aiston Monday, 23 March 2015

    What a fab experience!! I saw Easter eggs out on boxing day in my local shops! Ridiculous in my opinion!

  • Guest
    Betty Carlson Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    Easter was always a bit of a challenge for us, as the girls were not crazy about chocolate. The creations made in France by the chocolatiers are often impressive, though. I haven't even noticed any yet, although I'm sure they are around!

  • Guest
    Rachel Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    Ooh divine, absolute heaven in one place wow x

  • Guest
    Jaime Oliver Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    wow i love the look of some of these! .. i also love the fact that there is a more reserved sale timescale for easter chocolate .. nothing peeves me more than 3 months of easter eggs! x

  • Guest
    Emma Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    we have often been in Spain for Easter and I love to see their parades and celebrations. It is great to see how Easter is celebrated around Europe.

  • Guest
    Ryan Costello Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    Stunning chocolates! A real art form... like most things food when it comes to the French.

  • Guest
    Sara-Jayne Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    I taught in France for a couple of months and I loved every minute - the patisseries I visited were heaven. I also learned about poisons d'avril, their April fool's day!

  • Guest
    Kara Wednesday, 25 March 2015

    I don;t think anyone can beat the French for their Patisseries

  • Guest
    Richard Wednesday, 25 March 2015

    Like Catherine, I'll be having a good drool at the Roquefort boulangerie in a couple of days' time. And how splendid to have such a distiguished chocolatier right there in your own village.

  • Guest
    Nayna Kanabar Wednesday, 25 March 2015

    These are absolutely amazing and look so beautiful, I wouldn't mind receiving one for Easter. :)

  • Guest
    Cherished By Me Wednesday, 25 March 2015

    What absolutely stunning creations...I love that they only appear two weeks before Easter whereas here they do literally appear Boxing day which is disgusting...there is no build up as it's not really that special by the time Easter Sunday arrives. I love that it is so special where you are.

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Thursday, 26 March 2015

    Oh i really can't wait. We are off to Normandy in France for Easter and our kids really can't wait. The chocolate is so much more tastier than here in the UK.

  • Guest
    Jess Howliston Thursday, 26 March 2015

    Wow those chocolates look like pieces of art! Its great you got to find out more info and its really interesting to find out hwo different places do things differently.

  • Guest
    Amy Squires Thursday, 26 March 2015

    Such amazing items! I think if I had one of those I wouldn't want to eat it! Though I'm sure it would taste amazing!

  • Guest
    sara Saturday, 28 March 2015

    oh my must not look directly at chocolates may burn my eyes! need chocolate

  • Guest
    agata Sunday, 29 March 2015

    What a wonderful decorations. I like Easter and can't wait to make our house to look all festive :-)

  • Guest
    Clare Nicholas Monday, 30 March 2015

    Love the look of these.
    I hate that our eggs go on the shelves after Christmas, drives me mad

  • Guest
    Fritha Strickland Tuesday, 31 March 2015

    wow these look epic! so fancy! x

  • Guest
    MMichele {Malaysian Meanders} Wednesday, 01 April 2015

    These are so special looking with the extra care he takes to paint the chocolates. I bet they taste much better than the Lindt bunnies I bought at Target last week.

  • Guest
    Mel Wednesday, 01 April 2015

    Lucky you for speaking to such a well-travelled chocolatier! I love the fact it is not all about selling, selling, selling in France! My nan always buys us very few chocolates, but they are always of the highest quality, and I really appreciate that 10x more than loads of cheap chocolate. Fab post!

  • Guest
    kim Thursday, 02 April 2015

    Interesting post! I'm in France and think the timing is fine as it is not too commercial, however it has been very hard finding eggs for my two with dairy allergies! Thank you Lindt shop down the road.

  • Guest
    http://Margo Thursday, 02 April 2015

    Great post! Only one little problem... Now I have to go out and get me some chocolate! ;)

  • Guest
    Christy Swagerty Thursday, 02 April 2015

    I want to move into this chocolate heaven!! I agree with you, that the seasons are less commercialized in France, and that makes us cherish them more. Your photos are gorgeous, and I'm heading straight to the boulangerie to get some snacks!

  • Guest
    Catherine Sweeney Thursday, 02 April 2015

    Hmmm... chocolate in the shape of fish and bells for Easter. I'll check out your previous post! Great to be introduced to Christian and his patisserie. I think it's wonderful that he doesn't get seasonal until shortly before Easter. I wish it was that way in the U.S. It seems that shops are always preparing for the next holiday before the current one is even finished. Hubby and I are dying eggs this year -- just for the two of us. :)

  • Guest
    Holly Thursday, 02 April 2015

    Great post! Great photos! Craving some delicious chocolate now!
    Happy Easter!

  • Guest
    Betty Carlson Thursday, 02 April 2015

    I definitely think the timing is about right, and I also like the idea that these beautiful chocolate creations are made just for the immediate season (although I don't ever buy any.)

    Our daughters were not big chocolate-lovers, though, and the lack of other types of Easter candy rather hampered our celebration of the holiday here. We really only celebrated it for about 5 years...

  • Guest
    Ruth Friday, 03 April 2015

    Really interesting post, and makes me deplore all our mass-produced, popular-themed things that retail for ever cheaper prices. Eg the One Direction egg that Lidl had to reduce from 99 to 79p when Zayn left (ie a 20% reduction in price as well as band size). (I saw that on the telly, honest - promise I didn't go out and buy one...).

  • Guest
    http://FrenchVillage Jacqui Friday, 03 April 2015

    Wow, your boulangerie is so much more than ours! We don't have a master chocolatier just the boulangers wife who makes the cakes and chocolates.

  • Guest
    http://Wander Mum Sunday, 05 April 2015

    I just love the French chocolates - especially at Easter - they are do intricately made and I love the fact you can't buy them weeks and weeks in advance like the mass produced eggs churned out over in the UK. I also love the fact Christian melts it fine if they aren't sold... Of course they do!!! No bargain bins for the French. Their chocolate really is an art and, certainly for Christian, it seems that is more important than profit. #allaboutfrance

  • Guest
    Menai Monday, 06 April 2015

    Gorgeous pictures and I agree completely about the timing. Ideal to have beautifully made product near to the time but shoppers beware and get in early if you would like a choice! In the UK I stealthily bought Easter items ahead of time but then needed to explain to my young children that the shops were getting ready - we wouldn't be eating chocolate until Easter Sunday!

  • Guest
    Chris Wednesday, 08 April 2015

    In the 11 years that I've now lived in this beautiful country I've definitely noticed a trend to becoming more like British supermarkets, the seasons, whether Christmas, Easter or anything else, are getting longer.
    That said, I still love the fact that I can wander into my local supermarket at 3pm on 24th December and there are no more or less people in it than are there on any other day.

  • Guest
    Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault Saturday, 11 April 2015

    Like you, I love the way all the "Big" celebrations are more low key here in France. I bought the chocolate for the boys and Simon on Good Friday! Those hand made creations do look fantastic. Almost too good too eat. (I did say "almost") #AllAboutFrance

  • Guest
    Catherine Monday, 23 March 2015

    I will certainly go and drool over Christians chocolates when we stay at lou messugo next week. I will probably even have to buy one. As you say Easter begins in England the moment Christmas is over. It is a shame we don't have to wait for anything these days. well done the French.

  • Phoebe
    Phoebe Monday, 23 March 2015

    The idea of getting to speak to a real chocolatier in a shop in France is positively magical! I agree that waiting keeps Easter special - I admire this! Here in the US everything is so commercial that Easter gifts - everything you can imagine - is on sale long before the holiday. Last night I happened to stumble on an ad from Cheetos to decorate virtual Easter eggs on their website! Cheetos Easter eggs? I will pick French chocolates anytime!

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