Top 13 Picks for a Perfect Picnic in Paris
Ah Summer! The sun is shining and Parisians (and tourists), start searching for things to do outdoors. It’s the perfect time of year for picnics. And who doesn’t love a picnic in Paris?
You will find all different age groups picnicking in Paris, some just having an impromptu snack others bringing the most elaborate picnics. In addition to basking in the sunshine, you can benefit from the many park activities during the summer such as listening to a concert at Parc Floral, rowing a boat out at Bois de Boulogne or even taking a Balloon Ride at Parc Andre Citroen!
In August the Parisians usually evacuate the city for their annual holiday leave so there is more space to relax, soak up the sun rays (in moderation of course) and enjoy the grass under your feet. Throw in a glass of rosé and you’ve got the perfect picnic in Paris.
We’ve selected some of our favorite spots for a picnic in Paris, but there are a multitude of choices to breathe in the fresh air and admire the landmarks at the same time.
What to Bring
But before we get to the addresses, what to bring? Here are some ideas for your French picnic basket, all easily bought in a local market or supermarket: Cheese, Baguette, Pâté, cherry tomatoes, carrots or radishes, fresh fruit such as melon or strawberries, Wine and other beverages, a blanket, disposable tableware & napkins.
Not forgetting a corkscrew, …but it’s okay to ask your neighboring picnickers if you forgot and it’s a good excuse to practice your French!
And for those of you who don’t want to fuss with the picnic basket, Paris Picnic will not only prepare your basket but will also deliver it to you at the location of your choice! Vive Paris!
So what are you waiting for let’s go for a picnic in Paris!
Where to unfold your blanket:
Champs de Mars
metro école Militaire (Line 8)
How about a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower from your blanket?
The Champs de Mars extends from the école Militaire to the Eiffel Tower with lovely grassy lawns where you can plop down and enjoy your picnic with a mix of tourists and Parisians.
Pont des Arts
metro Pont Neuf (Line 7)
While the love locks may be gone, the Pont Neuf is still the bridge to be on. So grab your snacks and your wine and take a seat where you can.
Quai de la Seine
You won’t be alone at this classic picnic spot that runs the length of the Seine river. From 1st district to the 19th, a riverside picnic has always been big on the Parisian agenda. The quai has undergone several rehabilitation projects with the berges de Seines to Paris Plage and even floating pools. You’ll also fine riverside cafés and a few rocking péniches (barges).
metro Monceau (Line 2)
In the chic area of the 8th & 17th arrondissements, the Parc Monceau is the most elegant setting for your Parisian picnic with a lovely grass areas surrounded by trees, tarmac trails & 18th-century statues. They alternate yearly which patch of grass you can use so the park always looks fresh. Be prepared for a crowd on the sunny weekend. Pony rides for the kiddies.
Jardin de Luxembourg & Tuileries Gardens
Metros: Luxembourg (RER B) & Concord (line 1, 8, 12)
Well you can’t miss these two now can you. While these two parks are more for gazing than for lazing on the grass, they are still quite popular with locals, and particularly with tourists. These are the jardins à la française so best to keep off the grass if you know what’s good for you. But you might be able to score a chair and admire the crafty mini boat sailors in the large fountains. Or wonder over to the beehives in the Luxembourg gardens and try to stay in the shade.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
metro Buttes-Chaumont or Botzaris (Line 7b)
Perched up on the hills of Northern Eastern Paris in the 19th arrondissement, Buttes-Chaumont Park is one of the largest green spaces inside Paris and is very impressive with its valleys, cascades and exotic vegetation. The restaurants in the park are also well appreciated and don’t forget to visit the famous Rosa Bonheur bar for an evening drink.
Canal St Martin
metros Jaures (2, 5 7B), Goncourt (line 11), Jacques Bonsergent (line 5), Republique (3, 5, 8, 9, 11)
The 10th district’s response to the quai de la Seine. This is where the hipsters hang. Any given evening you will find the bank of this canal teaming with merry-makers enjoying both planned and impromptu picnics. With all the great food in the area, you can even just pick up something and decide to enjoy it near the canal. During the day, you can watch the boats and barges pass through the locks and keys.
Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne
Metros : Château de Vincennes (line 1) East and Porte Dauphine (Line 2) or Porte Maillot (Line 1) West
To the far East and West of the city you can reach the two largest park areas of Paris with Bois de Vincennes (East) being the largest. They are both vast areas once royal hunting grounds where you will find Parisians jogging, biking, boat rowing, picnicking, and playing. Both have hectares of green fields to settle down and spread out your blankets and you can enjoy the forests and lakes as you escape from the city atmosphere.
metro Château de Vincennes (line 1)
One of the four Botanical Gardens in Paris, Parc Floral is a colorful park nearby Bois de Vincennes if you like activities such as garden walks, plant observation, listening to jazz or classical music and it has excellent activities for children all throughout the summer.
Parc de la Villette
metro Porte de la Villette (line 7) or Porte de Patin (line 5)
This is not just a park – it is an entire mini-city center, with concert hall, amusement park (on occasion), playgrounds, canal, restaurants, science museum and more. You will need to come back here again and again to see it all. Huge green spaces so you are sure that you will find a spot to enjoy your picnic in Paris. This is a great place to take children, as we mentioned in things to do with toddlers in Paris.
Off the beaten (tourist) path
metro Cité Universitaire (RER B) – take a bus instead
In Paris’s 14th district this little gem is a local’s treasure. Think of it as a way for you to explore another part of the city and fall under its charm. You can visit the nearby Butte aux Cailles under 20 minutes walk away.
Parc André Citroën
metro Balard (line 8)
This impressive park was built over the former Citroën factory in the 15th arrondissement. You can lounge on the grass or take to the skies in an air ballon for amazing views of the city. I kind of like the view of the ballon’s lift off and landing.
Jardin de Reuilly & the Promenade Verte
metro Montgallet (jardin de Reuilly) line 8 & Ledru Rollin (line 8)
The Promenade Verte is 4.7 KM long park built on disused rail tracks above the city streets of Paris’s 12th district. There are parts of the path that will take you to the city skyline but also some bike paths below. You can start above the viaduc des Arts close to metro Ledru Rollin and make your way along, pausing to appreciate the fauna and flora and why not a picnic?
The Promenade passes over the Jardin de Reuilly a small discreet park shading by trees and the foot bridge of the promenade.
By the way most of these parks listed are open until till 8pm or 9pm during summer hours so until you hear the park attendant whistling at you, savor the moment. The city mayor, Anne Hidalgo, extended the hours of quite a number of parks so you may want to check the closing times here (in French but you select the park or the district).
In preparation for your picnic we have a couple of summer salad & light dessert recipes that you can try
I hope you get chance to try out a picnic in Paris; it is really a lovely experience and who knows maybe I will see you there.
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And while in Paris, be sure to check out Cook’n With Class Paris and our French cooking classes.