Posted by: kathandroger | January 13, 2011

Galette des Rois

During January you can’t go anywhere here without being offered a slice of Galette des Rois (literally cake of the kings). Apparently it takes its name from the biblical three kings. Catholic tradition states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days, and that they arrived to honor the Christ Child on Epiphany. Thus it is traditionally eaten in France for a few days either side of Epiphany and is supposed to draw the Kings to the Epiphany. (In reality is seems to be the whole of January!).

There are 2 version of France; the first is the Northern one, which is a puff pastry round filled with marzipan…

The southern version is a brioche…

As seen in the first picture, it comes with a few added extras in the shape of little fugurines (called Feves) and a crown. Originally the ‘Feves’ were broad beans, which is what the word means, but I guess they weren’t quite so pretty… The idea is that the figurine, which can represent anything from a car to a cartoon character, is hidden in the cake and the person who finds it in their slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake.  These figurines have become popular collectibles (which a broad bean wouldn’t have I suppose) and can often be bought separately. Individual bakeries may offer a specialized line of feves depicting diverse themes from great works of art to classic movie stars and popular cartoon characters.  A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the “king” who finds the feve in their piece of cake. To ensure a random distribution of the cake shares, it is traditional for the youngest person to place themselves under the table and name the recipient of the share which is indicated by the person in charge of the service.

Interestingly, the French President is not allowed to “draw the kings” on Epiphany because of the etiquette rules. Therefore, a traditional galette without figurine and crown is served at Elysée Palace in January. Poor old Carlita and Sarko – I can just see them in their paper crowns!


  1. […] that comes around at this time of year is the old Galette des Rois, that we wrote about last year: We only got back from Blighty on Thursday morning so have yet to experience our first of the […]

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