On a trip to the United States, my dear sweet French man was asked, “Do you have chicken in France?” I nearly fell on the floor in shock that he was asked such a question. Now, here I am, a couple of years later, and I feel like that person asking about chicken. Do they have Halloween carving pumpkins here in Paris, and if so where can I get my hands on one?
I have been a fan of Halloween ever since I was a kid, and I’ve never missed the chance to dress up for the occasion even as an adult… That is, until I moved to France in 2001.
What? Dress up?
After seeing more shaking heads and laughter than I could handle coming from those around me, I began to imagine that they were thinking something to the effect of, silly American (and I am being kind).
Needless to say, I dropped the subject until my children were three and four years old. I couldn’t help but think, I’ll be darned if I am going to let my half American children miss out on Halloween. My expat backbone stood up proudly. Who cares? Even if the people we knew didn’t celebrate Halloween, I was going to do so with my children. I had no idea where to buy costumes and where to find pumpkins, so I did the only thing I knew how to do. I called my Mom and had her ship me over two costumes and abandoned real pumpkins for coloring pages of pumpkins. My kids were going to wear costumes even if they were the only ones doing so.
Although my dear man thought I was crazy, we took the children to the Paris zoo for the day, and yes they were the only ones wearing costumes. I looked at their smiles and the costumes they wore so proudly and thought, you show them! Yes, I know… my kids will probably sue me one day.
How did it turn out? Well, people looked, or should I say stared. I was pleased that most looked on with smiles. There were a few sneering people, but I decided it best to actually look them in the eyes, give them a huge smile, and turn to laugh and play along with our little angels.
Each year, Mom sent over costumes… and with each year, more and more of our children’s little French friends starting celebrating with us.
I discovered a few years after the zoo episode that I was just another clueless expat, fumbling my way around Halloween thinking no one really celebrated. I was so wrong! Some do celebrate… but they do so conservatively in comparison to the United States. There is also a controversy about Halloween being disrespectful to the dead that has even made some villages actually stop all Halloween activities in public places.
Over time, I’ve found costume stores all over Paris that sell and rent costumes and accessories, but only recently did I find the best way to buy pumpkins! I’ll save you the pain of searching by giving you one of the locations that has become our go to place for this, as well as for many other things. We found a farm about 40 minutes from Paris (depending on where you live within the city). It has a pumpkin patch! http://www.cueilletteduplessis.com/index.php I know, it is far for some, but as you will see… well worth the visit.
Take your pick… or better yet, let your little ones run around screaming with delight as they pick out their own pumpkins! Maybe we’ve lived in Paris too long, but we were pleasantly surprised by the prices. Two or more pumpkins were priced at 2.65 euros each, less than two pumpkins were priced at 3.70 euros each. Although I haven’t included a photo, there were many pumpkins on the ground to make it easier for children to make their selection.
Grab one of the many wheelbarrows at your disposal and start loading it up!
Meet our very own Jack… soon to be Jack-O’-Lantern! The children selected a model image given to them by the farm, and I got to work drawing.
Let the little ones get their hands dirty with you… that is if they don’t go off screaming like our little princess. 😉 When all is said and done… this is our third Jack-O’-Lantern in the City of Light. We are thrilled to add the light of our Pumpkin’s candle to this beautiful city we call home.
If you are in Paris and would like to celebrate, people don’t usually stock up on candy and many would probably look at you strangely if you rang their doorbell on a Trick-or-treating outing. There are, however, a couple of interesting places that will be having Halloween Parties and Events this year:
Le Manoir de Paris
Stade de France
Hard Rock Café Paris
Monster High Halloween Party with Bateaux Parisiens
(For a French link of event details) http://www.sortiraparis.com/loisirs/guides/43816-halloween-a-paris-2013-pour-les-enfants-et-les-grands
This year, I will actually be sporting a glitter covered cat mask.
A very happy Halloween to you all!