So you’ve mastered the art of the Parisian picnic and gathered a few friends together: now what? Well, now you’ll have to find some of the best picnic spots in Paris to enjoy your lovely baguettes, cheese, and wine! To help you out, I’ve put together a little guide to some of my favourite little spots in the city as well as what to pack and bring along for a true Paris picnic…
There is something about Paris that makes it so alluring. Something that is so ‘uncopyable‘ the world over. And it’s not just the city either- it’s the residents too. From the way that Parisians dress to the way that they are in romantic relationships, there’s just something so special and alluring about Parisians.
So, of course, when it comes to food, Parisians don’t mess around! Having a picnic in Paris has become something of an institution and is most certainly something that you should make sure to do during your next trip to the City of Light. The Parisian picnic is an art form in itself. One that requires certain ingredients, a certain mindset, and a relaxed attitude.
- What to pack for a Parisian Picnic
- Best Picnic Spots in Paris
What to pack for a Parisian Picnic
Make sure to get plenty of baguettes as they will be the star of your picnic- and you’ll get through a lot more than you think you need- trust me! For an idea of where to go, be sure to check out my ultimate guide to the best bakeries in Paris.
Strawberries and other fruits
Although cliché, no picnic would be complete without a punnet of fresh berries. The best place to purchase berries is at the ‘marché’ (open-air market). These take place on varying days of the week (depending on what arrondissement you’re in)
Stick to french varieties when it comes to cheeses- you are having a Parisian Picnic, after all. Hard cheeses like Comté will be easier to share but soft varieties like Brie will be easier to spread. The choice is yours.
While you can purchase your cheese at a French supermarket, most tend to err on the side of being a little bit industrial. The best place to purchase cheese is at a fromagerie (cheese shop) where the vendor can advise you on what kinds of cheeses to buy depending on the event, season, and your tastes.
Wine and beer
White wines and Rosés are lighter for a daytime picnic and won’t stain your clothes when you’re eating en plein air… (Côtes de Provence is my go to rosé variety!) Alternatively, beers are easy to open and a pack is easily shared among friends. The best place to find wine in Paris is at a caviste (specialist wine shop), though you can buy wine at the supermarket.
Whichever you opt for, be sure to remember to bring a bottle opener. Another popular kind of rosé in France is known as a ‘piscine’ (swimming pool) because the idea is that you should create a pool in your glass by adding your rosé to lots of ice cubes. If you aren’t as numerous in terms of numbers for your picnic, then you can also buy half bottles of champagne or wine.
Er, if it’s warm, you’re going to need hydration other than wine! Think water and juices- the French don’t tend to go for fizzy full-of-sugar drinks and at the supermarket you can find full sugar drinks, as well as diet options.
It doesn’t really matter whether you choose to have sweet or savoury spreads (or both!) Hummus, tapenade, jam and butter are all great choices. For more information, be sure to check out our guide to French butter.
And what Parisian picnic would be complete without at least a pastry or two? From macarons, to tarts to eclairs, the city is your oyster (or, in this case, pastry)! The best place to buy pastries is at a special patisserie shop or at the boulangerie as the supermarket options tend to be quite dry and industrial.
If you’re travelling solo, then you’re going to want to do something while you’re sipping on wine. Why not pick up a good book? Last year, I found myself reading “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are“, and fell in love with it! What better way to improve your Parisian picnic than learning how to be more Parisian at the same time…
I always seem to forget this part! Knives, glasses and a picnic blanket are sort of a requirement to make your picnic ‘work’. If you’re having wine, then you’ll also want to purchase paper cups. So don’t forget them! I would also be sure to bring plenty of napkins and alcohol gel for any spills and sticky fingers. You’ll likely need more than you think and you can always save those you don’t need for a later date anyway!
Best Picnic Spots in Paris
#1 Somewhere along the Seine…
How could a picnic spot in Paris be any more iconic than being able to sit down and see an iconic Parisian landmark? Picture yourself sitting somewhere along one of the long quays that run alongside the Seine and looking onto Notre Dame Cathedral.
Your picnic is off to a pretty good start, right? Sipping on fruit juice, chatting with friends and watching all of the boats go by (oh, and waving to the occasional passenger); setting up a picnic on a little blanket along the Seine is definitely my go-to picnic place of choice.
#2 Parc des Buttes Chaumont
Few places in Paris can boast a view like that of Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Created in the mid 19th Century, it was constructed under the supervision of Alphand (the same guy who had undertaken the massive projects of turning Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes into public parks).
The park is a short distance from one of Paris’ best-kept secrets, the forgotten village of Butte Bergeyre. This park is sprawling and boasts attractions such as a grotto, temple and even a whole load of cherry blossoms in the spring!
#3 Canal Saint-Martin
In a more secluded area than along the Seine (and as a result, with fewer tourists), Canal Saint Martin is the kind of place you can come and enjoy your Parisian picnic among locals. By night, this quirky area of Paris becomes a hotspot for bars, cafés and even people playing Boules with their friends.
#4 Place des Vosges
Nestled in the very heart of Le Marais district of Paris, Place des Vosges is one of the most impressive squares that Paris has to offer. With abundant green grass and some of the finest architecture (that’s not Haussmann) that the city has to offer, it’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before setting off to explore the area. Nearby, you can find gems like the oldest house in Paris and some of the best gelatos you’ll ever eat…
#5 Parc Monceau
A real gem of the 8th arrondissement, Parc Monceau is one of my favourite places to head to on a sunny day. It’s also lacking on tourists and it’s here where you can find real locals hanging out. So practice those French skills, pack up your picnic and head to one of the greenest spots in Paris!
#6 Bois de Boulogne
Commissioned by Napoleon in the 19th-Century, Bois de Boulogne is one of the most popular family attractions that the city has to offer. As the largest park in Paris, here you can find gardens galore, wooded scenery and even a Château.
With all the activities on offer, it’s possible to spend an entire day just in the woods. Oh, and after your picnic (or even during), you can even rent a boat and row around the lake. To be honest, when I visited, there were even people munching a picnic (red wine glasses and all) while actually rowing!
#7 Your own Parisian apartment
Yes, Paris can be expensive if you want to dine out… However, if you want to have your very own Parisian feast for a slice of the cost of any other picnic, then cook up your own buffet at home! Plus, if you’re in your own air BnB rental or at a friend’s house, you can serve hot food to go along with your strawberries, wine etc…
Yes, it’s true! There are a whole lot of secret vineyards hiding around the city. From the slopes of Montmartre to the hidden area of Parc Georges Brassens, you’re never very far away from a vineyard.
Of all the best picnic spots in Paris, heading to a hidden vineyard has to be my favourite option of them all. Wander around the hidden vines to experience life outside the big city without ever leaving its peripherique…
#9 Square du Vert-Galant
Characterised by its ever-present weeping willow tree, hands down one of the very best picnic spots in Paris is to be found in the form of Square du Vert-Galant. Situated on the most Westerly tip of Île de la Cité, this little point is perfect to watch the world go by and soak up some sun for a few hours.
#10 Champ de Mars
Yet another Parisian picnic spot that is oh-so iconic and well worth a visit if you’re looking to enjoy some of the most touristy things to do in Paris is on the Champ de Mars.
Named for the Roman god of war mars and lying in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, this picnic location is perfect for those who wish to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle come nightfall.
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