If you are visiting Paris, whether it be with friends or on a romantic getaway, picnicking is a fantastic way to chill out and enjoy the fine food and wine in France- in an inexpensive way!
Paris is certainly the perfect place to picnic, with many locations throughout the city that supply magnificent views of the city. Wherever you choose, you will almost never be alone with other Parisians or fellow tourists with the exact same idea as you!
Just a few areas to name:
Seine -sit along the waterfront and watch the boats go by.
Pont des Arts (Lover’s Bridges) – ideal viewing spot of some of the great French architectural and historic sights like Grand Palais and Petit Palais, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and Eiffel Tower.
Tuileries garden – situated between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde.
Champs de Mars – unquestionably the most visited spot for many, with prime position of the Eiffel Tower, this is a perfect opportunity to relax and grab some photos with Eiffel Tower in the background. Just be prepared to share it with many others.
Bois de Boulogne – open paths, horse-riding trails and sports fields are a few of the highlights in Bois de Boulogne. Also known as the ‘central park’ of Paris (as in New York’s central park).
Trocadèro – set on the summit of the Chaillot hill, overlooks the Seine, opposite the Eiffel tower.
Food and drink
You’re in France, so picking the right picnic food is almost an essential rule! Think gourmet snacks and wine are the go. To have a traditional Parisian picnic the way locals do it, less is more in the case of food. Buying the bare essentials such as charcuterie, breads/baguettes and cheese is always a great idea – and is more than plenty. Any extra food such as fresh fruits and sweets are also great ideas. As for wine, you can’t really go wrong! Red is ideal as it is served at room temperature so no need to chill beforehand.
One necessity is a picnic mat, which can be in the form of a towel, oversized cloth or blanket. It can be anything you like, ideally it’s just to help mark your spot wherever you decide to picnic. Also, napkins and utensils are a good idea, disposable plates, cutlery and cups make it quick and easy to dispose of once you’re done. Don’t worry about spending money on cork openers, if you can help it, try buying wine with a screw lid otherwise let it be an excuse to mingle with others nearby as they may have one you can borrow.
You can’t really go wrong picking the time of day to spend picnicking. The late afternoon will you see you enjoying the beautiful sunsets of Paris wherever you are (which is undoubtedly a very popular time), but during the day is just as beautiful too! During the day allows you to sit and enjoy back the sunshine, have lunch, brunch or afternoon tea picnic style.
– Convenience stores supply a satisfying selection of wines – that are inexpensive. Bare in mind, even their inexpensive local wines are good and start at around 1.50 Euros for a small bottle. A good option is to buy a few smaller sized bottles of various kinds to taste and see which ones you enjoy most.
– Drinking in public is allowed in Paris and there’s no limit of how much you can drink in public. It’s common to see the French drinking out of a wine bottle or seeing people having quite a few bottles with them at a picnic!
– Buy your baguettes from a bakery or patisserie – they are baked fresh every day. If you know you’ll be having your picnic late afternoon, get in quick and buy your baguette earlier in the day as they are popular amongst the French. You don’t want to miss out and be disappointed if they sell out before you get there.
– With the many picnic spots located around the city, strategically situate yourself somewhere with a view of the sights you want.
– CHEESE- if you’re a lover of cheese, this may be tormenting to try to pick out a variety of cheeses to try, as there is SO MANY! It can be an intimidating experience but if you want to try something new or experiment with flavours, try a variety of French cheeses that you know you cannot get back home. That way, you are trying something new and different. Alternatively, if there are cheeseboards readily available, why not grab one of those and save yourself from picking!
– Expect to allow approx. 15-20 euro for your picnic altogether! If you are picnicking with a few other people, the amount divided by the few others will make it a very inexpensive experience. And really , it’s one of the cheaper Parisian experiences you’d have. Not only is it much cheaper than dining anywhere in the city, but it guarantees a great view, as well as great company in fresh air.
It should come as no surprise that playing obnoxiously loud music or talking loudly enough to disrupt others around you won’t gain you the right attention, so remember to keep it down to an appropriate level and respect other fellow picnickers around you.
Picnicking is authorised in public parks and gardens in Paris and you may sit on the lawn, except in the areas marked ‘pelouse au repos’ (lawn at rest), which means the grass is temporarily off-limits.
– Beyond Paris’s parks and gardens, you are permitted to drink alcohol in moderation along the river and canals or on street benches.
– Gated parks and gardens in Paris close at nightfall. The opening hours are displayed at the entrance and a garden keeper will come around blowing a whistle to let you know when it’s time to pack up.
– Various parks (not all!), forbid alcohol after 9-10pm.
– Clean up your mess and dispose of all rubbish into a bin. The area should be left spotless when you leave.
BUT most of all, enjoy the experience 🙂