Easter in Paris

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Chocolate hedgehogs in the window at Patrick Roger.

Chocolate hedgehogs in the window at Patrick Roger.

Last Sunday at the Luxembourg Gardens it was cold and drizzling, yet people of all ages came strolling by with peaceful smiles and small branches in their hands. It was Palm Sunday, which means Easter is just around the corner.

2010 is an important year for Easter because the Julian and Gregorian calendars coincide, meaning all Christians will be observing Easter on the same date. In celebration, 5,000 people, decorated eggs in hand, are expected at the Place de la Défense at 7:30 a.m. to begin the festivities. Some are even planning to walk in from the nearby suburb Issy-les-Moulineaux, where they will be gathering at 4:30!

And then it is off to church for everybody. A Gregorian mass is celebrated at 10 a.m. at Notre-Dame Cathedral, followed by an international service at 11:30. Be prepared for a crowd or head elsewhere. I love St. Eustache for its collection of contemporary religious art (the Keith Haring triptych is a personal favorite) and its focus on music, as well as St. Sulpice for its fine-art collection and, to be honest, for the people watching.

Notre-Dame.

Notre-Dame.

All the museums and most cafés will be open on Easter Sunday, so finding a meal is not a challenge, but for a very special brunch, the historic and quite beautiful Cafe de la Paix is offering a program with artistic Easter egg painting. The Ritz will be holding Easter egg hunts for their young guests, with visits to the chocolate kitchen for all.

Chocolate eggs at Roger.

Chocolate eggs at Roger.

For those of us who cannot afford a $100 brunch, there are plenty of indulgences available for less than $10… Cakes! And chocolates! I can’t even think of Easter chocolates without visions of Patrick Roger’s fantastic window displays… Think hedgehogs. But he is not open on Sunday. Never fear, Gérard Mulot is, and so is Pierre Hermé, among countless other local pastry shops and bakeries.

In the evening, let yourself be serenaded at the church St. Julien le Pauvre, the church St. Eustache or the more secular Salle Pleyel. For more information, visit Classictic.com. Then stroll home, the perfume of beautiful women, chestnut blossoms and metro diesel whispering “You’re in Paris” along the way.

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