A REAL Easter Egg Hunt…

Easter egg hunts come in all shapes and sizes. There’s the classic free-for-all experienced by the kids at their pre-school playgroups. There’s the treasure hunt (which we favour at home) – follow the clues to find the eggs. There’s the much-loved National Trust combo of finding clues to receive a prize. And then there’s this supersized egg hunt that we experienced in France last year.

For the Easter holidays of 2017 we headed to the family house in France. It’s in the Lot region, but very close to the Dordogne and its many attractions. We’d chosen to go off-season this year as France wasn’t included in our summer plans. It was a roaring success, not least because we had amazing weather! In the heat of the summer it’s often simply too hot to get active, so we were looking forward to a fairly active week of bike rides, walks and tourist attractions. The star of the show was our trip to Les jardins suspendus de Marqueyssac for their annual Grande chasse aux oeufs de Pâques (Easter egg hunt). As we’d visited the gardens in the past I was aware of the egg hunt and its popularity, so I went online to book in advance. This meant that the kids were officially logged in, but it didn’t help the queues to get in! We arrived relatively close to opening time, but the queue was already snaking down the hill. The kids ran around while English grown-ups grumbled (both tourists and ex-pats). The locals seemed to just walk straight past us!!!!

We weren’t exactly sure of what to expect. When we finally reached the end of the queue we gave the kids names and in return they were given paper bags and a map. The map showed us various zones in the garden where different coloured eggs were hidden – six zones and six colours. The idea was for each child to collect one egg of each colour and then swap them for a prize at the end. We set off around the gardens, hunting high and low in each zone for our eggs. The boys absolutely loved it. The eggs could sometimes be found quite close to the path, but one of the things the kids loved most was that they were encouraged to scramble all over the place – up hills, alongside water features, through holes in the hedges and round the trees.

The biggest surprise for us was that each brightly coloured egg was a real, hard-boiled egg – unusual for us Brits, though so not much in continental Europe.

The gardens have lots of points of interest, including incredible views across the Dordogne, which are worth a visit in their own right, but on this trip we focused on finding the eggs and having a play in the playgrounds along the way. Their favourite bit was an enclosed rope bridge that started out low to the ground before taking them high up into the trees – all the better for viewing potential egg-hiding spots!

Once we’d gathered all the eggs of the right colours we joined another queue to receive our prize. I was delighted – delicious, amazing French chocolate. The husband and I were fighting the kids for a taste – happily I managed to sneak a couple of the dark chocs while they snaffled the milk and white ones. It was definitely an Easter treat!

Top Tips

  • The gardens are vast, and it’s quite a distance to some of the attractions, so if you have really little ones with you I’d suggest using a pushchair (most paths are accessible, if pretty bumpy!) or a baby-carrier
  • They do mark out an area for toddlers to experience their own mini-hunt
  • It can get very busy, but there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out
  • Dogs on leads are welcome
  • There is a cafe at the gardens, but we chose to leave the gardens and go to a local town for lunch

Make it a day trip! Within around 15-30mins of the gardens you’ll find:

    • Château de Castelnaud – a great, atmospheric place to visit with lots to see and do. You can buy a joint ticket for the gardens and the castle
    • La Roque-Gageac, a gorgeous little village squeezed between the banks of the Dordogne river and a rock face
    • Domme, a classic Dordogne ‘bastide’ town with restaurants, shops and incredible views
    • Sarlat-la-Canéda, famous for its twice-weekly market in the summer

 

Fifi and Hop
Tin Box Traveller

18 comments

    • We’ll be staying at home for Easter itself, but popping up to North Yorkshire afterwards, so hoping to find a good National Trust (or similar) hunt to join up there. Mozambique for Easter! Wow – that’ll be a bit different. I love how other cultures approach things differently. In France they don’t have the Easter bunny, but flyng bells (apparently) instead.

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  1. D’s uncles has a place in the Dordogne – on the Charente border, though, and I don’t know your area so well. It sounds like a great place to have a family getaway, though. I’ve never experienced a French easter egg hunt – perhaps we should aim to head out there in time for one next year!

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    • We really enjoyed going to the area off season as it allowed us to be so much more active, and some of the top touristy spots (castles and markets) were a lot less crowded. Highly recommend Easter or May 1/2 term to get out to France especially if, like us, you’re able to take advantage of some free accommodation. I’ll have to look up the Charente border – no idea where that is!

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  2. A French Easter Egg hunt sounds a lot of fun. We spent a few Easters with French friends while I was growing up and I can remember the coloured hard-boiled eggs and the delicious chocolate too. This particular hunt is set in such a fabulous area – those climbing nets look great. #FarawayFiles

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  3. that sounds like great fun, our grandsons love an Easter Egg Hunt or any sort of Treasure Hunt x #MondayEscapes

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  4. What a beautiful spot for an easter egg hunt! I always look back on Easter as a kid as such a magical time…funny that where you are hard boiled eggs aren’t used as much. They are big in the U.S. and dying them is half the fun. But we all have our traditions! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

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  5. Despite the queues, it sounds like a delightful way to hunt for eggs. I love how they have spread out the eggs and created zones to keep it from becoming crowded and allowing you to explore more! As an American, we always hid real hard-boiled eggs as a kid after spending hours decorating them the night before. We still do it with our kids – so much fun! Remember how many real eggs the Easter Bunny has actually hidden always key as you don’t want to end up finding one a week later due to the SMELL! Ha! Beautiful post – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

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    • Easter Sunday was busy with a hunt at home, followed by a classic hunt at a National Trust property (Cliveden) then a pub lunch, at a pub that was also hosting a hunt!! Still wading through all our chocolate now!

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