From chocolate museums to egg hunts in unusual locations, culture fixes, club-nights and days out… here’s a selection of egg-citing things to do during your bank holiday break in Paris, Amsterdam or Cologne.
So long Creme Egg, Bonjour French delights from one of Paris 300 chocolate boutiques (more than in any other city in the world)! When you get off the Eurostar at Gare du Nord station, your first stop will be prestigious chocolatiers Jean-Paul Hévin and Pierre Marcolini, to marvel at their sculptural Easter specials and other gift-worthy creations. They’re located in the bustling area of Opéra-Grands Boulevards, a 30-minute walk south from Gare du Nord/direct tube ride to Réaumur-Sébastopol station.
Close by, the vast Choco-Story museum presents demonstrations, tastings and exhibits about the story of cocoa.
A 25-minute stroll south leads to the river and historic centre where you will find the Louvre and Centre Pompidou museums, and Notre-Dame’s Cathedral. During Easter, the awe-inspiring Gothic building resonates with spine-tingling chants and musical accompaniment from one of the world’s largest organs. Admission is free!
As French tradition has it, Church bells remain silent before Easter in mourning of Christ’s death. French children are told that the bells have flown to Rome to visit the Pope. And when they return on Easter Sunday announcing the resurrection, adults say that they drop chocolate eggs! You can hunt them in various outdoor spaces including at the foot of the Eiffel Tower where a giant hunt is held every year for charity, and in the quaint gardens of the Musée de Montmartre which tell the story of the Montmartre area.
Want to burn-off these choc calories away? Head 20 minutes north-east to Avenue des Champs Elysées and dance to French electronic beats at Zig Zag Club. On the 14th of April, Mister Oizo (the DJ behind the music for the Levi’s ads featuring the yellow puppet Flat Eric) will be behind the decks!
Leave Paris flowering tree-lined boulevards for Amsterdam’s tulips, just 3h 15 minutes by train from Gare du Nord. The Easter bank holiday falls at the best time to see one of Amsterdam’s iconic symbols: Keukenhof Garden and its tulip fields. Hop on a train from Amsterdam Centraal station to Schiphol Airport then jump in the Keukenhof Express bus 858, you’ll get there in just 45 minutes. You can also cycle amongst fields of different flowers, lined with canals, windmills and bucolic villages between Harleem and Leiden (35 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central). Take your bike and your picnic with you onboard!
If you’re unable to make it to the tulip fields of Keukenhof do not despair… You can see tulips in Amsterdam too! During spring various parts of the city take part in the Tulip Festival, including the Rijkmuseum and its (bloomin’) wonderful gardens! The museum itself is well worth a visit, boasting 8,000 artefacts and pieces of art displayed inside its stately walls. Architecture undergraduates will appreciate this 19th-century building and its controversial Gothic/Renaissance style. It’s located 30 minutes south from Amsterdam Centraal by foot or 15 minutes on tram 16. Next to it stand two other essential museums, the Van Gogh and the Stedelijk Museums, a must-see for those fond of modern and contemporary art.
After filling your culture cache, have some fun and relax in Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s beautiful main park, ideal for lazy afternoons and barbecues. East of the city is another green space worth checking out, the historic Plantage area. It includes the old and peaceful Botanical Garden, home to exotic plant-filled greenhouses and the Artis Royal Zoo. The latter organises interesting educational Easter activities and an egg hunt on Easter Sunday.
It would be rude not to leave Amsterdam without letting your hair down. Thursday the 13th of April sees the start of the 20th anniversary of Awakenings, one of the most important techno festival in Europe. It takes place at Gashouder, an old gasworks complex in the northwest of the city. The celebrations last 4 days with headliners such as Sven Väth, Derrick May, Ben Klock, Jeff Mills and Ricardo Villalobos.
17.4 lbs. That’s the yearly chocolate intake per person in Germany! So it’s no surprise that the largest chocolate fountain is in Cologne. Like the rest of the country, the city gets festive at Easter, when spring branches are decorated with colourful eggs, traditionally symbolising a new life. Did you know that the tradition of boiling and painting eggs originates from Germany?
In 3h 20m, trains departing from Gare du Nord reach Cologne’s gothic twin-spired cathedral, soaring to 515 ft! The country’s most visited landmark attracts more people around Easter when grand masses are held in its lavish interior, free entry. The cathedral boasts stained-glass windows from the 16th-century and a more recent addition by contemporary artist Gerhard Richter, the Magi’s gold sarcophagus and 360° views of the city.
Opposite the cathedral, the Old Town runs parallel to the Rhine. Famous attractions include the 200 ft gothic City Hall Tower, the Ludwig modern art museum and the colourful facades of the vibrant Alter Markt square.
From there, walk on the Rhine promenade through the antique and flea market until you see the futuristic glass and metal building of the Chocolate Museum. Visitors are greeted with waffles dipped into the 10-feet-high chocolate fountain. There is also a tropicarium full of humongous cacao trees and the opportunity to make your very own chocolate bar.
A law forbids dancing on Good Friday and until Saturday at 6 am! This means you will feel fresh and ready for a day trip to one of Cologne beautiful surrounding castles. We recommend Satzvey Castle and its Easter crafts market, just 50 minutes by train. There will be music, food, workshops and maybe even a cameo from the Easter bunny…
Back in Cologne, if you still feel like dancing on Easter Sunday, take those legs to Jugendpark to attend the launch of Pollerwiesen open-air events, unmissable for techno lovers. The line-up is yet to be announced.
We hope you found some inspiration to plan a nice Easter weekend! Don’t forget, an early bunny catches a bargain when it comes to train tickets. Make sure to book your return journey asap. Also, check attractions opening hours as some of them vary during Easter and you don’t want to get an egg on your face!