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La Belle Vie: Celebrating French Easter and a chocolate controversy

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
La Belle Vie: Celebrating French Easter and a chocolate controversy
A chocolate bunny displayed at one of French three Michelin stars chef Alain Ducasse's chocolate shop, days ahead of Easter. (Photo by Guillaume BAPTISTE / AFP)

From French Easter traditions to a chocolate controversy between France and Switzerland and gorgeous French train journeys, this week's La Belle Vie newsletter offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like a French person.

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La Belle Vie is our regular look at the real culture of France – from language to cuisine, manners to films. This newsletter is published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences in “My account”.

Little chocolate bunnies and eggs have made their way into storefront windows across France as people prepare for Easter weekend, or Pâques (roughly pronounced pack). 

If you are a fan of Easter egg hunts (les chasses aux oeufs), then you will be happy to learn that the French enjoy them too. There is one big difference between Anglo and French celebrations, and it has to do with some flying bells that make a surprisingly long journey over Easter weekend.

How to have a traditional French Easter

This year if you're craving something new and innovative, you can test out some 'blond' chocolate at Easter. 

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Though beware - there is a bit of a controversy over this 'fourth' chocolate, as lawmakers have only officially recognised three types (milk, dark, and white)..

France and Switzerland locked in conflict over ‘fourth’ chocolate

I feel like it is fair to admit that chocolate is more of a Swiss delicacy than a French one (no offence to the great French chocolatiers).

My controversial opinion is that France is more of a cheese country than Switzerland, though I do love Gruyère.

A cursory Google search taught me that our Alpine neighbours produce around 450 varieties of cheese, which does not really stack up to the 1,000 varieties of cheese produced in France. Some have even estimated that figure could be pushed up as high as 1,600.

Cheese in numbers: France’s obsession with fromage

On top of that, France's capital will soon be home to a very special cheese museum.

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It seems that the museum will bear some similarity to the Bordeaux wine museum, which I highly recommend, in large part due to their goal of making it an interactive experience. 

I am very excited to learn all about the 'culture' of cheese and its history, but I'm sure the best part will be the dégustation at the end (the cheese tasting).

Three things to know about the new Paris cheese museum

And in other news - one of France's most scenic train routes, the 'train of wonders', is going to close down for over a year starting in September. If you are still on the hunt for summer holiday plans, you might want to add this to your wishlist before the renovations begin.

Luckily we are spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful train journeys in France. Once the Train des Merveilles closes down, you'll still have plenty of other breathtaking train rides to choose from.

VIDEO: 7 of the most beautiful train journeys in France

While I often think of France as a country powered by trains and rail transport, I am always surprised to pass by small towns and rural areas with their own airports. 

We looked into France's dozens (yes, over 70!) of commercial airports, and why they might be facing an uncertain future in the years to come.

Are France’s loss-making regional airports under threat?

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