Poisson d’Avril – Hook, Line & Sinker!

I really should have taken a better note of the date when I got up at 2.30am today to travel to the Airport! I suppose an early start, lack of coffee & a distinct need for sugar made me take my eye off the ball, but perhaps they’re just excuses & I should just accept that I am a gullible soul & was well and truly caught by one of the hoax news stories that abound in France on 1st April.


Although it’s probably more likely I was just keen to get back to France so my mind was elsewhere!

As a child I remember the bizarre & sometimes ludicrous stories that appeared on the news bulletins on April Fools’ Day, when it was still OK for some parts of the news to be light-hearted, or designed just to raise a smile. The ‘Spaghetti-Tree’ hoax of the late 1950s had gone down in history as one of the best & so to be honest any news story on 1st April was always treated with a very substantial pinch of salt!

In more recent years there have been various ‘April Fool’ stories that have raised an eyebrow, but they’ve never really been taken that seriously & with the advent of Social Media that has continued, although sometimes (especially at the moment) every-day stories have more than just the sense of the bizarre about them.

In France though 1st April seems to sit at a totally different level, with the wonderful tradition of the ‘Poisson D’Avril’ and the elaborate & quite detailed hoax stories from the major news outlets. Today saw a new initiative from the Govt to launch cycle borrowing schemes in main airports http://www.freewheelingfrance.com/blog/free-bikes-in-france.html – as well as the ‘incredible’ news that an ‘extinct’ Pyrenean Rock Penguin chick had hatched in the wild http://www.adventurecreators.com/pyrenean-rock-penguin amongst many other gems.

The ‘Poisson D’Avril’ itself (The April Fish) is a wonderful tradition, where children (in the main) attempt to attach a paper fish to an unsuspecting friend, in the hope that they will walk around for the rest of the day without knowing it’s there – giving them the title of ‘Poisson D’Avril’.

The Fish has been associated with April 1st in France since the mid 1600’s when the Gregorian calendar was introduced, moving New Year from the end of March to 1st January. The theory that abounds is that back then news travelled slowly and people living in remote or rural areas were unaware of the change and continued to celebrate the New Year on 1st April. This led to jokes being played on them, including being sent on ‘fools’ errands’ or having a fish attached to their backs. Why a fish was used isn’t really clear, although it’s thought to  relate to the avoidance of meat during Lent, or alternatively that it’s close to the dates for Pisces, although it actually falls within the Aries sign, which would make a ram more appropriate!

The fish though has become a clear symbol for April 1st in France and it’s lovely to see this tradition continuing and thriving – even the supermarkets are in on the joke!


Make your own fish – from supermarket chain Leclerc

I’m pleased to say that I managed to get through the day without a fish on my back, but the terribly gullible side of me was caught out earlier when I saw a Facebook Post from http://www.luberon.fr announcing the imminent opening of a cable car on the South side of the Luberon to take visitors to the summit of the Mourre Negre, which offers astounding views in every direction. I thought that I hadn’t noticed anything about it in the papers before, but on the face of it I could almost understand why there would be demand for such a facility, especially as the walk to the summit is quite a hard hike, (although our 80 year old neighbour here does it on a regular basis to watch the sunrise) and new projects are regularly being introduced & driven forward at a rate of knots.


The Mourre Negre from our house – it’s easy to see why people want to get to the top – the views are incredible

It wasn’t until much later, (post coffee, food and my brain catching up with my body) that I saw a post from Virgin about a new plane with moving wings. It was only then that I suddenly remembered the date & realised that I had fallen for the cable car story – hook line & sinker!

Hey ho, I’m happy to hold my hands up to this one & feel a total prawn, which I suppose is relatively close to being a fish!

Next year I must make sure I flag the date to make sure I’m fully prepared & ready to skip over those stories that just might be there to catch me out!








23 thoughts on “Poisson d’Avril – Hook, Line & Sinker!

  1. I used to get many a fish stuck on my back when my children were at primary school. Now they’re teenagers, I’m more likely to get a real fish thrown back in my face if I serve it for dinner (only kidding – they’re not that bad). I didn’t notice any hoaxes this year – which is a bit of a worry because it means I may have read something, believed it and not yet discovered it was an April Fool… Thanks for sharing your post. #AllAboutFrance

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our local tabac had a huge banner up announcing the grand opening of the poissonnerie de St Cyr. I looked at it with some excitement for quite some time before I saw that the opening date was for 1 April… Doh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliant – sometimes the simplest ones are the best & I love that so many places really make an effort here too – I loved Mont Ventoux’s tower being painted with a huge cyclist after their sign was stolen – it would actually be quite nice – you never know you may get a poissonnerie soon #AllAboutFrance


  3. The Paris metro always does a great one changing names of stations which I think is brilliant. However this year with the rise of “fake news” it was extra hard to know what was and what wasn’t real. Thanks for linking up to #AllaboutFrance

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know I really struggled thanks to Fake News as the slight plausibility of some made them sound so likely. I love the ideal of the Metro changing station names – that’s one for me to avoid as I have enough problems on the best of days. Thanks #AllAboutFrance


  4. I have read some truely funny stories around France’s April Fools’ day. I will see what I can find out about the spaghetti tree, it sounds intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I must admit I really liked some of the stories this year from various sources – although some of them are getting harder to spot! This one had me for a kipper! #AllAboutFrance


    1. I know I did a major face-palm when I realised! – there were a few that were plausible enough to be true, but I had realised the date & had coffee by then so didn’t fall for them, but this one well & truly had me! #AllAboutFrance


  5. I’m as gullible as you! A FB post from a friend with unexpected exciting news had me going ‘Wow!’ until I read the comments and people had said ‘April fool’. An hour later, I completely forgotten it was 1st April and did exactly the same thing again…. oh dear!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s easily done – I have (many years ago) rung a number I was given to return a call from Mr C Lyon – only to find it was the local zoo! Aaaaagh! But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one 😀 #AllAboutFrance


    1. I must admit I was surprised to see the printout – but I do like the harmless fun of it all – knowing me I’d find myself with lots on my back by the end of the day – happily oblivious to it all! #AllAboutFrance

      Liked by 1 person

  6. When I taught French in an English primary school, the headteacher really got into the spirit of ‘poisson d’avril’ and said to the pupils that if anyone managed to put a paper fish on her back, they would receive a special prize!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. haha! It’s amazing how people can think up stories that are just believable. I feel like I could believe just about anything in the news- except perhaps that story about the plane with the loving wings! I’ve bought some adorable French april fools day postcards at local flea markets. You can see them here: http://curiousprovence.com/poisson-davril/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – I am happy to believe just about everything too, but the moving wings was just too far for me! I loved the photos of the postcards & cant believe there were cards for the day – since you posted about them I’ve seen a few too & they are just lovely. Good to see you today too – take care #AllAboutFrance


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