A picnic is a popular tradition in France, between family or friends. It’s a must-do thing in spring and summer. The tradition of picnic started since farmers brought their meals to the fields before beginning their works so that they could enjoy during the lunch break. The picnic can be fancy (with a picnic set) or casual but the most important is to share a nice moment together with beloved ones. We will first introduce some must-have items for a French picnic. Then, we will recommend our favorite places for a picnic in Paris!
It is usually simple food, which is not required much complicated cooking process and that can be eaten without plates and cutlery. However, there are typical food that most of the French will bring for their picnic.
For the main dishes, you wouldn’t miss the cured ham, daisy ham or sausage which are the symbol of french food. Moreover, we can also have some canned tuna or potted meat, like “pays basque” which is from the southwest of France that has a special culinary culture from other regions. Then, we can put everything mentioned on the bread (baguette of course) or make a sandwich!
Boiled eggs are also a good appetizer for a picnic, boil the eggs in advance and keep in the fridge for a fresh taste. You can also slice the eggs in half and eat with mayonnaise.
For a French picnic, how could you forget the favorite food of French people: cheese ! But remember, normally we have a picnic on a beautiful sunny day so when it’s warm, a block of hard cheese like cheddar is better than Brie, Camembert or fresh goat cheese, otherwise they will be melted so quickly due to heat.
Strawberries with whipped cream, blueberries, raspberries and cherries, fruits are always suitable for picnic as they will refresh your mouth and your day. Meanwhile, some fruity jam, chocolate or chips also make you enjoy happiness with people you love.
You can also try the Italian way of drinking : pour Porto wine in melon. This could be an appetizer or a dessert. Little advice, with soft drinks, wine or beer, it’s better to bring a fridge-box to keep the beverages cool. If not, he drinks would taste weird because of the rising temperature.
Normally, French people choose quiet countryside places, parks or river banks to enjoy their picnic in a casual and chic way.
This public garden is one of the most famous in Paris which was created in 1612 by the order of the Queen Marie de Medici who request for a big botanical project. Actually, this garden used to be a private garden. It is also well-known as one of the most iconic photo spots. The Luxembourg Garden is loved by Parisians and tourists. There are some grass zones where you can enter, so try lying down on it like a Parisian.
Transportation: RER B Luxembourg station
If you want a royal picnic (like sitting on the chair in front of a fountain), go to the Tuileries Garden. Designed by André Le Nôtre, this green space is a model of French elegance, with its symmetrical gravel paths and beautiful rows of trees. From this place, you can easily go to the Louvre museum, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d'Orsay, and the Champs-Élysées. The restrooms are situated between Jardin des Tuileries and Concorde station, or in the Carrousel shopping center under the Louvre museum.
Tranportation: Metro line 1 Tuileries station
Have a picnic under the Paris’ hot air balloon and lie down on the grass. And why not boarding on hot air balloon to enjoy the view of Paris from a high altitude. It would be one of the most wonderful day ever. However, there will be a long queue for the ballon during the weekend, so it's better to visit in the morning. As it is spacious, this place is very recommended for families with children.
Transportation: Metro line 8 Balard station / line10 Javel - André Citroën
Among the must-see spots, go to the center of the capital. Go back in time at the gallant Louis XIII square. Sitting at the foot of the equestrian statue of this king of France, you are in the heart of the Place des Vosges, one of the oldest places in Paris. Around the Place des Vosges, there are a lot of stores where you can get food and drinks, so it is easy to have a casual picnic.
Transportation: Metro line 1 Saint-Paul station / line 8 Chemin Vert
If you love the Eiffel Tower so much, do not miss the garden of Champ-de-Mars, right at the foot of this Iron Lady. In addition to being one of the largest green spaces in Paris, it offers a beautiful view of Eiffel tower.
Transportation: Metro line 8 Ecole Militaire station / line 9 Alma-Marceau / line 10 La Motte Picquet Grenelle
The Seine is the river that wraps around Paris. This is one of the symbols of Paris with its historic bridges that connect the right and left banks and offer beautiful views during the sunset time. In summer, there is also a special event called “Paris Beaches”, which transforms some parts of the river into artificial beach. You can just bring some snacks and drinks, then sit and enjoy the sunshine nearby the Seine.
Never forget to bring a tablecloth and put tableware into your picnic box and it’s better to bring something environment-friendly. Also be careful for heat-sensitive foods like butter, mayonnaise, cheese, cream, and yogurt. Place them at the bottom of a fridge-box or a freezer bag and do not leave them at room temperature for more than two hours.
Words by Ya Hui CHANG
Photographs by Youra CHOI