What Is the Galette des Rois?

If you’ve ever been in France early January without hearing about the “Galette des Rois,” you must have had your eyes closed the whole time! This event celebrates the day the three Kings visited the baby Jesus, and most French families close the holiday festivities on January 6th with this flaky, buttery pastry tart filled with fragrant frangipani.

Thierry Isambert’s house-made “Galettes des Rois” at an event organized in Miami by the French American Chamber of Commerce

Although the proper day for this celebration is January 6th or the first Sunday of the month, French bakeries sell these tasty treats throughout the month of January. In fact, if you live in France, you’re likely to get it at school, the office and any time you gather with friends throughout the month.

Galettes des Rois are sold in all French bakeries throughout January

Galettes des Rois are sold in all French bakeries throughout January

It’s a Fun Celebration

Everyone enjoys the “Galette des Rois” ritual because each pie is sold with a small porcelain trinket baked into it, and a paper crown on the side. The trinket is called the “fève” which means “bean” because they used to use a bean, but today, the fèves are usually elaborate ornaments shaped like anything from little animals and people to flowers and fruits. The diner who gets the slice with the trinket (or fève) enjoys being king or queen for the day; the galette is as much party as it is pastry!

When children are present, the tradition for allocating each slice is having the youngest child hide under the table and shout out the name for the recipient of each slice as it is cut. This means there is no cheating on the part of the person serving; if they see the trinket while they serve, they don’t decide who gets it.

What to Pair with the Galette des Rois

If you want an excuse to drink Champagne, celebrating the Galette des Rois is certainly a good one! It also goes well with sparkling cider or tea; try a tea from one of the famous Paris teahouses like Kusmi Tea or Mariages Frères.

Fun Facts

  • The French president is not allowed to play the “Galette des Rois” game. A giant 1.2m galette is prepared for the Elysée each year but the pastry chef is not allowed to bake a fève into it. This is because it’s considered inappropriate for a king to be crowned in the presidential palace. 

  • During the French Revolution, it was called the “Gâteau de L‘egalité” because it was inappropriate to use the word “king” at that time.

You’ll find the “Galette des Rois” tarts anywhere there’s a French community and authentic French bakeries, so catering your Miami Galette des Rois celebration is easy! This Miami caterer’s French pastry chef makes delicious pastries in house!