You might have seen the pictures on Instagram: a grassy spot next to the river Seine, with a laughing couple or a group of young people, lounging around with a sparkling glass of wine. A romantic picnic in Paris is the “thing to do”, and not just for tourists.
The reason that picnics are so popular with the locals is that Parisian apartments are small. A picnic is a wonderful way to entertain, without having all the preparation of a formal French dinner. And when you can easily pick up a variety of fresh ingredients at your local boulangerie (bakery) and grocery store, it becomes even easier to spontaneously plan a picnic and meet up with friends.
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Ingredients for the Perfect Parisian Picnic
Now if you want to have a picnic in the french style, i.e. the Parisian apéro, you are going to have to pick up a few ingredients. Not to worry, they are all easily available at your local French grocery store. We have foregone with the wicker picnic basket because no cool Parisian walks around with those anyway!
Interestingly, French people don’t really eat raw celery the way we do in North America. Plus it requires a knife to cut into manageable pieces so I have left that off the list.
- 2 or 3 kinds of cheese
- a small box of cherry tomatoes
- Charcuterie (traditionally ham, but depends on personal preference)
- bottle of wine (preferably a chilled rosé or white wine, but if you like red, go for it!)
Other Possible Ingredients
- Baby Carrots
- Fruit juices
- Bottle opener
- Small knife
- Paper cups
- Paper plates
- Paper napkins
- Small mat to sit on (optional)
- Pick the perfect location in Paris.
Wondering if drinking in public is allowed in Paris?
Drinking in public is legal in Paris, but some restrictions apply. In most parks and public spaces, alcohol is only allowed until 9 pm due to noise laws. So it is best to finish your picnic by then.
Top 10 Places to have a picnic in Paris
1. Near Pont Neuf on Ile de la Cité
One of my favorites spots, right in the heart of the city has to be the grassy area near Pont Neuf on the Seine River. It is about 5 minutes away is the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum and the Conciergerie. Watch the lovers on the Pont des Arts in front of you, and the boats sailing by, around the island.
2. Around the Eiffel Tower
There are several large parks at the foot of the Iron lady, so you will be in good company. On one side of the Eiffel Tower is Trocadero and its fountains, and on the other side is Champs de Mars which is also perfect for picnic-ing. This is probably the emblematic place to have a picnic in Paris, so don’t be surprised to see other people doing the same.
3. Canal Saint-Martin
The other body of water in the heart of Paris is Canal Saint-Martin. It is a series of locks in the center of Paris, connecting the Marne river to the Seine. With more of a hipster vibe, this is the place to be for young Parisians on the Right Bank.
4. Jardin des Tuileries
Right next to the Louvre Museum is the Jardin des Tuileries. A large park that is perfect for a little picnic as you watch the tourists go by. There is a grassy area, as well as chairs and benches, if you don’t feel like getting your outfit dirty!
5. Place Dauphine
If you enjoy a game of pétanque, Place Dauphine is where you will want to go for a picnic. Right next to Pont Neuf on the Ile de la Cité, this little square is a hidden gem. There isn’t much grass though, so bring a mat to sit on.
6. Jardin de Luxembourg
This is the “backyard” of Parisians who live in Saint Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. With ornamental ponds, a palace on its grounds (the French Senate house), kids playgrounds and more, the Jardin is a beautiful way to unwind.
7. Buttes Chaumont
In the north of the city, this park perched on a hill is where the locals go. Go for a picnic, or a drink at the famous Rosa Bonheur bar that is inside the park, you won’t regret it!
8. Quai d’Austerlitz
Quai d’Austerlitz used to be filled with cars. Since it became pedestrianized, the large quai attracts a lot of students from the nearby universities. There are also several floating bars and a swimming pool around if you get bored of picnic-ing (not sure how that would happen, but anyway!)
9. Point de Seine on Ile Saint Louis
Hidden away from sight, but right in the heart of the city is the Pont de Seine. A tiny secluded spot, for that romantic picnic for two.
Other places that are your favorite picnic-ing spots in Paris? Let me know!
A bientôt !
- French Snacks: 10 ideas for an after-school nibbleMarch 28, 2020/
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