The Parisian picnic is a fine art. Not to be taken lightly, it takes the right amount of preparation, thought and planning to master the perfect picnic like the Parisians manage to every time. Knowing the best locations, which cheeses to bring and how much bread will be needed are all fundamental factors in a make or break picnic. Be savvy, read this guide for all the tips and tricks and picnic like a true Parisian. Who knows someone might even mistake you for a Parisian yourself…
Location, Location, Location
First things first, location is the most important factor when it comes to picnicking in Paris. Many flock to the banks of the Seine for the views, the atmosphere and the crowds of people. My favourite picnic spot in Paris is the Square du Vert- Galant, I always try to get there early enough to pinch the spot where the island ends and take in the magical view of Pont des Arts with my feet dangling over the river Seine. Favourite daytime picnic locations include the Bagatelle park, Buttes Chaumont park and the Monceau park. Favourite evening picnic locations include underneath Pont Alexandre III, anywhere on Il St Louis and the aforementioned Square du Vert- Galant.
The Holy Baguette
The three main components of a picnic in Paris are without a doubt bread, cheese and wine. Or… du pain, du fromage et du vin! Fortunately Paris is abundant in bakeries so finding a freshly baked baguette will not prove a problem. Ensure to bring a generous armful of baguettes if there’s a group of you, I guarantee you will eat more bread than you think.
Next Stop: Fromagerie!
What would a picnic be without cheese? Next stop and equally as important as the last is the cheese monger. Buy a creamy camembert, a rich goats cheese and some compté from the local market or the local fromagerie and I promise you that you’ll earn big brownie points with your fellow picnickers, just don’t forget the knife! (Photo by Luxeat)
Keep it Flowing
You can count on the wine flowing freely at a Parisian picnic and no one would have it any other way. Red is the more sensible choice if it’s to your taste as you don’t have to worry about it getting warm and there are plenty of reds which make the perfect accompaniment to cheese, if you match them well. Make sure to bring some plastic cups or even plastic wine glasses, if you want your picnic to be a classy affair.
On Your Bike
The best way to travel to your chosen picnic spot is by bike. Hire a Vélib and fill the basket with your recently purchased treats and cycle with the wind in your hair to meet your friends. There is no better way to arrive at your picnic destination than by Vélib, you’ll arrive feeling refreshed, excited and unbelievably fortunate to be in Paris. Once more there aren’t many metro stops close to the Seine but there are dozens of Vélib stations.
Look Like a Natural
If you want to look as though you’ve got picnicking down to a fine art, ensure to bring a cork screw for the bottle of wine. I guarantee you will immediately gain the respect of every surrounding Parisian, or better yet fool them into believing you’re not an expat/tourist. Alternatively buy a screw bottle and save yourself a lot of agro and possible embarrassment.
Get There in Time for the Sunset
For a truly magical picnic, make sure to get to your chosen destination before the sunset to catch the sun sinking into the horizon. Watching the last rays of sun softly flicker and dance off the river Seine will ensure your picnic is one to remember.
It’s All in the Details
If you choose to picnic in the evening, chances are you’ll be staying late into the night because the wine is still flowing and there are still baguettes abound after coming well prepared. Also, you’ll want to see the city turn from dusk to dark and catch the Eiffel Tower sparkle as many times as possible before midnight. In which case, come prepared and bring a jumper and a blanket to wrap up warm when the temperature starts to drop.
Dessert needn’t ever be prepared from scratch in Paris. Parisians are big fans of economising on time and leaving certain tasks for those who do them better. Baking is one of them. What Parisian need ever bake when there are dozens of pastry shops creating superior pastries? Leave it to the experts and pick up a box en route. Alternatively pass by your local market for fresh fruits and berries instead.
Photography and words by Faye Bullock