5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

April Fool’s Day in France

PUBLISHED: 12:54 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:54 27 March 2017

April Fool's Day in France is known as le poisson d'avril © Mikael Lever / Fotolia

April Fool's Day in France is known as le poisson d'avril © Mikael Lever / Fotolia

Archant

Watch out for practical jokes on April Fool’s Day in France but also keep an eye out for paper fish stuck to your back in the French tradition of ‘le poisson d’avril’

Fish, not Fool

In France, April Fool’s Day is simply known as the ‘1er avril’ but it is a day when people, mostly children, try to hook paper fish on the back of unwary victims which will then walk around with a paper fish on their backs without their knowledge. Like in the UK, it is a day for pranks and jokes. When a prank is discovered, the prankster shouts out ‘poisson d’avril!’

___________________________________________________________________________

Related articles

French Easter traditions

Bizarre French superstitions you should know about

___________________________________________________________________________

Why fish?

The origins of le poisson d’avril are unclear, but many believe it is related to the end of Lent, a period where Catholics do not eat any meat. It was traditional for people to give each other food to celebrate the end of Lent and the beginning of Easter and fish was a popular gift. When the tradition of jokes became linked to that day, it was common for people to give each other fake fish as a joke. Today, it is common to see chocolates and pastries in the shape of fish.

___________________________________________________________________________

Related articles

10 things you need to nkow about French etiquette

18 French words to use at Easter

___________________________________________________________________________

So why do we prank each other on April 1st?

Again, the origins of joking on the first day of April are unsure but the most common explanation in France puts the genesis of joking on that day in the mid-16th century. In 1564, king Charles IX allegedly decided that the new year would start on April 1st and not January 1st. From then on, people began giving each other presents in April and the tradition persisted – although the New Year quickly reverted back to January 1st - slowly becoming a bit of a joke. The gifts followed suite and became silly and funny presents.

___________________________________________________________________________

Related articles

27 things you need to know about French food etiquette

April events in France

___________________________________________________________________________

Famous French poissons d’avril

Le poisson d’avril has become something of a national sport in the French media who enjoy writing shocking headlines and only revealing the ‘poisson’ at the end of the day.

In 1972, the radio station France Inter announced that following the United-Kingdom’s entrance in the EU, cars would have to drive on the left hand side in France.

In 1986, the Parisien newspaper wrote in its columns that the Eiffel Tower was going to be relocated to Marne-la-Vallée, because the Seine river was causing it to move. Many people actually believed this.

In 2006, TV presenter Jean-Pierre Coffe introduces a new wine on his show ‘Ca se bouffe pas, ca se mange’: blue wine.

In 2011, Ouest France’s website announced that the first step of the Tour de France, set to begin on the Noirmoutier peninsula, would have to be completed by pedalo.

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Mon, 12:25

Cassel in Nord is the latest village to win the title of ‘France’s favourite village 2018’. Explore all of this year’s 14 finalists and vote in our poll to let us know which one is your favourite

Read more
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Need ideas for this summer holiday in France? There are plenty of routes for a multi-activity trip in the Maurienne valley in the French Alps

Read more
French Alps
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

More than just a stopping point, Narbonne is a beautifully diverse city with the marks of centuries of civilisation. Let this Aude town cast its beautiful and medieval spell on you…

Read more
Languedoc-Roussillon
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The medieval village of Yvoire in Haute-Savoie stands on the shore of Lake Geneva and is one of France’s Plus Beaux Villages. Here’s our insider’s guide to things to do, see and visit in Yvoire

Read more
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Explore Europe on a CroisiEurope river cruise and discover sunlit vineyards, vibrant cities and fascinating places...

Read more
Boating in France
Friday, June 22, 2018

Want to listen to some live music this summer? From classical concerts to rock shows, here are 9 music festivals in France you should visit

Read more
Culture and attractions
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Looking for a new route for your next cycling holiday to France? On the ‘Trail of Two Cities’ route you can cycle from London to Paris and discover many beautiful towns and villages along the way

Read more
Cycling in France
Monday, June 11, 2018

In a patchwork of landscapes, the Upper Valley of the Aude boasts unspoilt countryside and a protected natural environment, which is perfect for hikers and nature lovers looking to escape the crowds of Carcassonne

Read more
Friday, June 8, 2018

Cycling through the Loire Valley past vineyards and châteaux, dressed in vintage clothes and riding a retro bike… what’s not to love about the Anjou Vélo Vintage?

Read more
Cycling in France
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

From recycling schemes to public parks and green spaces, a number of French cities are making an effort to become more environmentally friendly. According to a report these are the 10 greenest cities in France

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now