Friday, April 6, 2012

French Easter Traditions--The Tombola de Pâques

My local bakery is featuring quite often on this blog, isn't it? This time it isn't about me or what I've eaten, been told, or bought. This time it's about the Tombola de Pâques.

Every Easter the owner/pâtissier/boulanger extraordinaire designs and makes a towering creation of chocolate. It is quite impressive atop the glass patissierie case.

{The Big Prize}

No child can enter without gasping, in awe of what must look to them like the happiest, most indulgent treat ever. Perhaps it's exactly what children would wish for if they could win the lottery, if they even knew what a lottery was.

And thanks to the Tombola, they do. Because the Easter Tombola is just that; a lottery. You buy a square, put your name in it and hope, hope, wish, wish that you'll win the giant chocolate chicken and egg masterpiece. It's all edible, even the boxes.

{little nests}
Of course we bought a square, number 89 to be exact. But what in the world will I do if we win it? It is a lot of chocolate people, 500 kilograms to be exact. I'd  have to have you all over.

I gathered up my courage this year and asked permission to take some photos for you. I was rewarded not only with photos but also with a trip upstairs to the work areas.

{funny bunnies}
I saw where they make the baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat every day. I watched as the owner and one of his employees made sheets of France's answer to tiramisu, the Opera.

{upstairs making cakes}
It was so exciting! I felt like I'd already won the tombola. Msr Boulanger told me to bring the children in after the Easter rush and he will show them around upstairs too. He also said I can come in next year and watch as he makes the chocolate bunnies, bells, elephants and roosters as well as the coming year's tombola tower.

{Msr et Mme Boulanger}
He was so nice, forgiving my horrible French and explaining how the bakery works, showing me everything, even giving me a small cuilliere of chocolate ganache that went into making the Opera.

I am always pleasantly surprised and delighted by how kind people can be. I was shy and afraid of making mistakes, sure I would look like an idiot for asking, but I'm so glad I did. You learn something every day. So what if I look like an idiot, now there's a story behind my baguettes, lemon tarts and croissant aux amandes.

Happy Easter everyone. I'll let you know if we win the chocolate.


  1. Playing it safe by not mentioning the name of your bakery, eh? Thought that after seeing the picture of that chocolate masterpiece, all of your readers would also enter the tombola? You got that right! How many tickets can I buy? :) I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for #89!

    1. Liene,
      You've figured me out! I'm a greedy bakery girl.
      Plan on stopping by next week if we do win it!
      aidan xo

  2. If you win I'll happily drive the five hours to help you eat it - bon chance!

  3. You'll have to Jacqui! I'll be happy to share.
    aidan xo

  4. I really hope you win too - I'll be calling around as well. Oh yeah.

  5. My mother's best friend was a chocolatier and I got to go behind the scene anytime I wanted to watch him make his candies. It was so fascinating! He made all candies from recipes handed down from his European father. The inside of the store was completely decorated with furnishings from Paris. It was so gorgeous with heavy dark wood, stained glass lamps and huge glass cases to show off the many candies. Disney World tried to buy the complete store to reinstall in Florida when they started to build in the '60's or'70's, but Ted didn't sell it. I am hoping that your number is the winner. Bonne chance!

  6. Shoot, I'd be breaking into that place and stealing that thing before the lottery even got going. I guess it's a good thing I don't live in your village, huh? Fingers crossed that you will win!

  7. What a treat - the chocolate and the behind the scenes tour! Sometimes you just have to ask. Just blew the college fund on the kids Easter chocolate from our Boulangerie. Free chocolate would be nice!

  8. Good luck with number 89. You are right, that is a LOT of chocolate and you will be enjoying that for a long time if you win! That was very generous of the boulanger to show you around. The boulanger in our village has invited me to come watch him but I have not had the courage yet to get up to join him at 2 AM when he starts his day. One day I will make it!

  9. Is it really 500 kilos of chocolate? - that's over 1000 pounds - some chocolate chicken laid that egg!

  10. Well done on the courage that it took to ask, Aidan. I hope that I'll be able to follow your example when I get to Charente next month! Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. I am still reeling from too much Easter chocolate and it was not as fine as what you are showing here! I do hope that you won!

    So glad that you got to know them and that they so generously shared time with you and let you take photos. That is just about perfect!


  12. This is so cool, Aidan. Don't you just happy accidents like your tour? I'm still chocolated out from my trip to Switzerland so I'm not coveting the giant chocolate tower. But I do hope you won it! Bis


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