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What do you wear to Easter Mass in Paris?

What do you wear to Easter Mass in Paris?

Old Jan 29th, 2008, 11:40 AM
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What do you wear to Easter Mass in Paris?

I am a newbie when it comes to European travel. I will be heading to Paris for the first time in March of this year. I will be there for Easter sunday (7 days total) and want to attend mass at Notre Dame. Is there a special dress code? dresses? Head coverings? Can anyone let me know? I would really appreciate it. Thanks!
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 12:12 PM
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Forgive me for sounding unChristian, but are you going to Mass or a fashion show?

No Catholic church has a dress code (OK, they do have a fetish about keeping women's legs hidden in Italy. But who's ever associated Italy with anything other than box-ticking hypocrisy?)

Apart from Italians' fear of arousing male passion, at every Mass - except for serious State occasions or posh weddings - I've attended in any European cathedral or papal basilica, people wear what they feel comfortable in. If, in your case, that means jeans or T-shirts, I think you'll find God really has other things to worry about (though given how early Easter is this year, you might get a few goose-bumps), and you'll find plenty of other people dreessed just like you.

Incidenta;lly, this bizarre fantasy that there's an 11th, sartorial, Commandment crops up so often here, I assumed some kind of heresy had taken over the US chuurch, and there were clothes police at every American altar rail. So I was torn between surprise and gratification a month or two back to discover that at the main Sunday Mass at St Patrick's, New York, communicants were dressed just as scruffily as they at Westminster Cathedral or St Peter's , Rome.

So where does this dress code nonsense come from? Sister Mary Dominatrix was a world champeen at forcing obscure bits of Canon Law on us poor five year olds : even she couldn't dream up a five Hail Mary penance for wearing the sronmg shirt.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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They do have some kind of dress code in Italy, but it's not in terms of style. I am pretty sure that head coverings are not required as decided by the Vatican many years ago, but a Catholic should know that. Maybe kidartlover isn't Catholic, though, and has never been to that kind of church so wasn't sure if there is a special dress code -- I could understand that.

No, there isn't in France. Wear what you would to Easter Mass at home. Are you saying you wouldn't normally even wear a dress to Easter mass at home? wow, times have changed. I can believe some women don't even wear dresses to mass any more, but on Easter Sunday??? that's kind of one of the most dressy church occasions, part of it is customary on purpose to get all dolled up with Spring clothes and a nice hat. At least it is where I came from, and I actually think that's a nice custom.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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"So where does this dress code nonsense come from?"

It comes from a particularly annoying strain of American insecurity that you see often on message boards like these. Too many Americans have an inflated opinion of the fashion sense of your average European, because the only European fashion they see is what is worthwhile to send across the pond. Quite stupid, really.

You will see similar strains of overly deferential treatment of European cooking and wine. Neither of which are without counterparts of equal quality in the US.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 12:23 PM
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I'm not the original poster but I am old enough to remember when hats were required and shoulders were covered. I think that is the kind of guidance the original poster was looking for.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 12:29 PM
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WOW! I guess I asked the wrong question. I have read so many places, especially THIS site, where they discussed proper atrire to different places. I am in no way thinking about a fashion show. I don't care if I am in fashion or not. But I was raised by a catholic who was very stirct on what you would wear to mass (although I haven't been in years) and that was in the last 30 years. I am sorry if I offended flanneruk. I was trying to follow rules and be proper in church. I was raised to dress nice, usually wearing a dress, but I wasn't sure if the Eurpoean Catholics still followed older customs. I thank those who were nice enough just to say that nice church dress is good. I will follow that advice. I am sorry to sound hypocritical to anyone else. It must be a stupid American thing, huh flanneruk?
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 12:30 PM
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As it is my firm belief that if you even think to ask this type of question, it is because you care what those around are likely to be wearing, I will respond as if you do (I do...).

This is still a rare family dress-up occasion in Paris, even if it is all to please the grandparents who will be feeding you after church. You will see families in their Sunday best. This does not necessarily imply a dress for grown women, but you will see some very nicely tailored suits (especially since as FlannerUK indicates, Easter is early this year).
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 01:51 PM
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kidartlover21, I apologize for my fellow Fodorites' rudeness, particularly travelgourmet's. "Quite stupid really" indeed!

I can't imagine anything more obnoxious than criticizing someone for asking a question, especially after she has made it clear she's new to European travel and being so altogether polite.

I don't know how it's done in some folks' neck of the woods, but where I live, in some houses of worship it is customary for men to wear suits and ties and ladies to wear dresses. Particularly on holidays. So it's not a stupid question at all.

And flanner, just because God doesn't care doesn't mean one shouldn't be respectful of his fellow worshippers. Nice clothes in some circles ARE a sign of respect. By your logic, I should traipse about everywhere in a g-string just because I'm comfortable in one.

kidartlover, you can wear whatever you want. There will be people in jeans and families in their pastel finest. Your call. If you plan to get a seat, you'd better get there early. If I were you, I'd choose a lower profile church and not be suffocated by the mobs of people who are there just because it's "Notre Dame."
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Not in Paris but in Normandy the ladies at Mass ALL gave me a LOOK which I took to mean the way I was dressed was not appropriate - it couldn't have been anything else, not in jeans but white slacks. It was only 4 years ago.

I attend possibly the worst-dressed parish in Canada but on Easter Sunday the women dress up.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 02:19 PM
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I attended Easter mass and Palm Sunday at Notre Dame two years ago and it really ran the gamut of what people wear. One, it's pretty cold in there at that time of year so most people kept their coats on. Some men were in coats and ties and some weren't. Some women had their heads covered, some didn't. Some were in pants and some were in dresses.

You should definitely get there early - we had great seats and it was very awe inspiring - even for a non-Catholic like me. Have a great trip!
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 02:40 PM
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First, your question is a good one since it's never stupid to want to do the right thing IMHO...especially out of respect in a place of worship.

I think you are safe to wear what you would wear for Easter in your own church, understanding that most Catholics, while lax the rest of the year, still tend to dress up for Christmas and Easter.

For services here in Switzerland, men wore suits, women dresses or dressy pants. Nice coats and hats as well.

My husband put on his blue suit and tie, and he was glad he did.

My girls and I don't wear dresses, but we put on our version of our Sunday best.

Have a wonderful time in Paris and welcome to the European forum.


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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 03:41 PM
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My sole bit of advice would be to wear something fairly modest. By that I mean that you probably shouldn't show cleaveage or have bare shoulders.

In my own church at Easter I have seen young women wearing halter tops, which really aren't appropriate for church. One girl even wore a strapless dress. I think these young women probably wanted to dress up for Easter and didn't think about the sense of propriety that is usually apparent in church clothing.

My parish, like so many other Catholic parishes in the U.S., is pretty casual. But most people are aware of a sort of unwritten minimal dress code.

Oh, my second bit of advice would be to go to an early Mass. I attended a Mass at around 11:00, and there was a steady stream of tourists parading around the side aisles of the church and talking, despite the admonitions of ushers to ensure that they wouldn't talk.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 03:45 PM
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Kid, I am fairly new here also, and have asked some "stupid" questions. Most responses were helpful and kind, but there are a few who post on here with a mean spirit. I will be in Barcelona on Easter and will be attending church somehwere, and like you, I'd like to be respectful. It isn't a question of fashion, but of respect. In Greece in some places no slacks, shorts, sleeveless tops, etc., were permitted in churches. Everywhere is different and I'd rather ask a stupid question than look like an ignorant, disrespectful American who could care less about the country I'm visiting. Ask away and ignore those who can't be nice.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 05:06 PM
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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In France there are no "coverage" rules as thre are in Italy.

However on Easter Sunday I think you will find most people are fairly well dressed (not jeans/sneakers) - although no one will turn you away as long as you're wearing something.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 06:12 PM
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An Easter Bonnet of course ! And the bigger and more striking the better .That way you can wear anything beneath it and noone will notice .
Seriously , I think you wear something respectful that does not expose a lot of flesh.People wear what they like all the time and at least at St Peters get turned away as a result . Given the time of year that Easter falls it is unlikely to be a problem as it is going to be cool to mild weather , possibly wet and as another poster said , probably cold in the church . If you have packed something wonderful to wear during the day then wear it and feel good about it .And if not it does not matter .
Mass will be a fabulous and a memorable experience as the choir will be in full voice with the organ or an orchestra sometimes .Check which mass/es they are scheduled to sing at by looking at the Notices in the entrance to the Cathedral. The Cathedral web site shows that generally they sing at 8am , 9am and the main mass at noon which is longer but things may differ at Easter .They are impressive .I heard them last June .
Enjoy the experience .
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 06:38 PM
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To digress a bit about strapless dresses in church: It's bad enough that weddings pretty much can't happen these days without 80% of the females in the church, including the entire wedding party, wearing strapless dresses. But I've been to several Catholic funerals (in the US) in the past year and have seen young women - relatives of the deceased - in the front row in strapless dresses with no wrap for their shoulders. That's just plain distracting. otoh, my daughter made her Confirmation in a gray strapless dress and a pretty cashmere cardigan (which stayed on her at all times!) and looked absolutely appropriate.
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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 06:52 AM
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We're discussing late March in a huge, chilly, unheated or hardly heated gothic cathedral. All the discussion about bare shoulders etc. is useless in this case. You'll keep your coat on anyway, so it doesn't matter what you wear underneath. Something decent. I would recommend pants instead of a skirt/dress to keep your legs warm. And your warmest shoes. You're tourists travelling with a limited wardrobe, no one will care.
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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 07:01 AM
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I always wear a nice dress with a hat everytime I enter a European church. My wife says it really isn't essential anymore.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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Maybe it's just the south..

But we still "dress" for Church and my local Episcopal Church. And on Easter it's a fashion show and not at all uncommon to see the adoreable young girls in white frilly dresses with hats!

Are you welcome if you wear blue jeans? Sure. Will you feel comfortable, probably not, but it won't be because we didn't welcome you. Most people (even those on this board who say "I don't") do feel uncomfortable if they are not dressed in the same manner as the poeople with them.

So I think the OP's question was very relvelant. Perhaps not at Notre Dame, but I bet that in the small towns in France you still "Dress" for Easter!

(I was also taught it's a sign of "respect for God" to dress for a visit to his house (Church) . Not sure he cares, but since he doesn't talk to me directly it might not be a bad idea to do everything I can to stay on his good side. He knows I have lots of flaws LOL!)
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