Epiphany in France

Posted by on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 in Celebrations, Culture, Epiphany in France | 0 comments

Epiphany in France – how  the French celebrate La Fête des Rois.

Press the ‘cc’ button for subtitles on the video/movie thing.

Naturellement this is another excuse to eat and drink. Once the bébé Jésus was born on Christmas day there shone une étoile (a star) and attracted by anything that glitters, lest it be valuable, les Rois Mages (wise kings) or the more poetic sounding Trois Rois (3 kings) took to their chameaux (camels) laden

Les Rois Mages

Les Rois Mages

with useful cadeaux (presents) such as gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Twelve sandy-mouthed filled days later, away in a manger, no crib for a bed the bébé Jésus dormait (was sleeping) on the foin (the hay). Merci Melchior, Casper and Balthazar, for your kind gifts – ‘Maman, tu peux leur demandé de chercher sur ma liste d’envie sur Amazon la prochaine fois?’ ‘Mum, can you ask them to look on my Amazon wishlist next time?’

Epiphany in France

To celebrate la générosité of these travelling kings France celebrate l’Epiphanie by eating cake, drinking fizzy white

booze and wearing cardboard crowns – c’mon you have paper hats in crackers – give them a break!

La Galette des Rois et la couronne

La Galette des Rois et la couronne

Step 1 – Buy a cake – La Galette des Rois

There are a few variations depending on the région.
One version is made of pâte feuilleté (puff pastry) filled with frangipane (a gooey almond butter).
The southern version is a brioche (sweet bread) in the shape of a ring representing une couronne (a crown – think of ‘coronation’) covered in sucre (sugar) and in some parts of France les fruits confits (candied fruit).

Brioche avec les fruits confits

Brioche avec les fruits confits

If you aren’t worried about money these are traditionally bought from the patisserie or boulangerie. If you are short of cash or tight then make your own and pop down to your local supermarché.



Step 2 (optional) – Buy some sparkling white/sweet white wine


Vous voulez du Champagne?

For the rich Champagne of course
For those penny-pinching or saving for next Christmas buy a mousseau which is a more affordable sparkling white:
Blanquette de Limoux
Crément de Loire
Crément de Bourgogne
Crément d’Alsace
Clairette de Die

Muscat is a deliciously rich sweet dessert wine (if you like that sort of thing). It’s an alcoholic fruity taste sensation exploding in your mouth. However, it’s not cheap and it is meant to sipped gracefully not guzzled like a pint of larger. Best served around 13 degrees centigrade (wine cellar temperature apparently) or just not too cold and not at room temperature.

Step 3 – Invite friends and family

Les fèves

Les fèves

You may go to someone’s house in the afternoon/evening or a bar – yes children are welcome everywhere in France. If you have un enfant (child) gosse (kid) present – stick them sous la table (under the table) just before you are about to divvy up the cake. They shout out who gets what slice. This is important because hidden in the cake is une fève (a small figurine) in the shape of either a king but often these days of a cartoon character or in fact any random thing. If your slice has the fève (trinket thing) in you are crowned le roi (king) or la reine (queen) and get to wear the cardboard couronne (crown) – whoop whoop. There are two downsides. Firstly, you have to give the couronne to a gosse (kid) or there will be des larmes (tears). Secondly, it’s meant to be you who coughs up for the cake the following year.

Press the ‘cc’ button for subtitles on the video/movie thing.

If you don’t have a token gosse then you can play pierre-papier-ciseaux (paper-scissor-stone – only of course it’s in a different order in French stone-paper-scissor) or failing that tuck into the booze and stuff yourselves with cake and shout ‘vive le roi’ ‘vive la reine’ (long live the king/queen).

Here is a cadeaux (present) for you – a summary picture of how Epiphany is celebrated in France.


Funny fact – fait drôle

The Président de la République is offered a giant ‘galette des rois‘ 1m in diamètre but without a fève inside as of course you cannot crown a président!

Le Président de la République

Le Président de la République








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Epiphany in France
Epiphany in France - how do the French celebrate Epiphany? By eating a cake, drinking sparkling wine and wearing a cardboard crown of course!

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