In France, Easter Day festivities culminate in a huge meal of seasonal spring flavors shared with family and friends.

Celebrating Easter in France is very much a part of the French culture, where shops are decorated with white and dark chocolate eggs, bunnies, chicks, bells and fish (Poisson d'Avril) - all symbolic of spring and renewal.

France’s Flying Bells

The glorious sound of Easter bells can be heard throughout the world. But in France, Easter bells do more than just ring. In fact, the Thursday before Easter, les cloches de Pâques (Easter bells) across the country are silenced as the tolling objects are said to take flight on a journey to Rome. When in Rome, the bells receive a special blessing from the Pope, then flutter their nonexistent wings back to France—but not without first picking up some eggs along the way.

Back in France, the bells deliver the eggs to children, much to their delight, and return to their towers to ring on Easter Sunday, marking Christ’s Resurrection. They may not be furry, white or cotton-tailed, but the image of thousands of bells soaring across the sky is downright beautiful.

Normandy Seafood Stew (La Marmite Dieppoise)

With 600 km of coastline, Normandy has an abundance of fresh seafood. Legend has it that a woman known only as Mrs. Maurice owned a tavern for sailors in the city of Dieppe called “La Marmite Dieppoise.” Mrs. Maurice was renowned for her incredible fish stews made with the day’s catch, as well as shrimp and mussels. Her legendary dishes were named after the restaurant and the rest is history.


  • 500 g (1 lb.) mussels , cleaned and de-bearded
  • 300 ml (1 ¼ cup) cider or white wine
  • large knob of butter
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 100 g (1 ½ cup) baby button mushrooms, sliced in half
  • 150 ml (5 oz.) crème fraîche
  • 4 white fish filets (with skin on)
  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation Method

Place mussels and cider or wine in a wide, shallow pan. Cover and place over high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan a few times until mussels open. Tip into a colander placed over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Place the pan back on the heat with a large knob of butter. Sizzle the leeks for 8 minutes until soft, then add the mushrooms, the mussel cooking liquid, and the crème fraîche. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce by half. Turn down the heat and add the fi sh. Cover and gently poach for 10 minutes until cooked, then carefully lift out. Stir the parsley through the mussels, return to pan and heat through. Place one fish filet in each serving bowl and spoon everything else around it. Delicious served with boiled waxy potatoes.

Makes 4 servings.

What better way to celebrate Easter than with a heartwarming bowl of Normandy Seafood Stew? Or plan your Seine River cruise with our two itineraries: Impressions of the Seine & Paris and Paris & Normandy.

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