It might seem like the kids have only just gone back to school after the Christmas break but already, the Easter holidays are almost here. With early April known for its temperamental weather – including showers and snow – the two-week break might really drag if spent entirely at home.
Why not pack the family on to a plane bound for Bergerac airport and enjoy the Dordogne in springtime – very pleasant, with temperatures typically warmer than in the UK. The vast, varied scenery is lush and green. This is the perfect time for walking activities, as the sun isn’t too strong and the heat won’t be overbearing.
There are myriad places to go and things to do, too. With the sun shining, the river should be warm enough for little ones to enjoy canoeing or snorkelling. Alternatively, there are many museums, covering everything from dolls to ancient war weaponry; helping to keep the children interested. Animal lovers might prefer the Aquarium du Perigord Noir and others might love seeing the cavernous Gouffres de Padirac.
Easter in France is quite the event; far more so than in Britain, some might argue. The entire country celebrates with most shops beautifully decorated – if not the towns and villages too, typically with rabbits, chickens, bells and fish.
To give your children a traditionally French Easter, put eggs in their bedroom for them to wake up to on Easter Sunday morning. Eggs should also be placed in nests, which the children have put outside the night previously.
It’s not just eggs though, fish and bells are important symbols of Easter in France. According to French Catholics, all church bells ‘fly off’ to the Vatican on Good Friday, taking with them the grief of those in mourning for Jesus. They ‘fly back’ on Easter Sunday, bringing chocolate and eggs. As such, you won’t hear the church bells ring between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The importance of the fish is rather more fun, for the children, at least. Paper Easter Fish or Poisson D’Avril help children play tricks on adults on April 1st. The aim is to stick the paper fish on the backs of unsuspecting adults.
At Easter time you may be able to take part in Easter egg contests. It is tradition for raw eggs to be rolled down a slope. The unbroken egg that reaches the bottom first wins and symbolises the stone being rolled from Jesus’ tomb. Smaller children play a daring game of catch with their eggs; the first to drop theirs loses.
Another reason to visit at this time of year is to sample the fantastic local food – which is cooked to perfection. The French enjoy lamb at Easter, either roasted or in a stew, served with seasonal vegetables. A first course might incorporate eggs, like a quiche or omelette. One thing’s for sure – this meal will be served with locally-produced wine; making for a perfectly relaxing meal.