A Parisian picnic is the absolute best way to feel like a local. Parisians love their bistros and cafés but equally adore eating outside in their parks and by the Seine. When visiting Paris, create your very own Parisian picnic experience. Buy some gastronomic delights and head to one of these fabulous parks for a picnic in Paris. Did you bring your red checkered tablecloth?
There’s only one rule on a Parisian picnic and that is, as with all French meals, take your time, savor the food, soak up the ambiance and as a foreigner take this opportunity to observe the Parisians picnicking nearby.
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9 Ideal Places for a Parisian Picnic
The Banks of the Seine
The Banks of the Seine is the ultimate place for a Parisian picnic. No grass. No fountains. No picnic tables. And it is absolutely perfect. Anywhere along the Seine will do. Pick your Parisian picnic spot close to where you are staying or in full view of a favorite landmark or bridge. Sit on the pavement, dangle your legs over the river’s edge and sit back and relax. You are in Paris after all.
Here along the banks of the Seine, one is guaranteed the full Parisian experience. Just watch. Couples share an intimate kiss and bubbly champagne. Groups of friends gather around sharing baguettes, cheese, and wine while others eat pizza slices in the midst of writing lyrics to guitar music. Lived moments all set to a backdrop of barges bustling their wares up and down this major waterway.
Stay late until the bridges are lit up, and promenade until your feet hurt! This is Paris.
A Parisian picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg is unforgettable. Start with a stroll along the gravel pathways lined with elm trees and tucked-away statues. Can you find a game of pétanque underway or the beehives and insect shelters sheltered in a shady corner?
Infamous green metal chairs are spread around the garden for relaxing, reading, and chatting with a friend. Set a model sailboat slipping across the pond under the watchful eye of the Luxembourg Palace. Perhaps it is a day when a musical entourage will entertain you in the round pavilion.
In the Jardin du Luxembourg it is forbidden to sit on the grounds except at the south end of the park. Here is the perfect place for a picnic! On a beautiful day, you will be in the good company of many Parisian couples and families. Set out your baguette sandwiches and enjoy.
Still hungry for more time in the garden? Check out the Medici fountain (currently under renovation in summer 2020) but not to be missed when it is in full operation or pop into the Luxembourg Museum for the latest exhibition.
Location: Situated on the border of Saint-Germain des Pré and the Latin Quarter in the 6th Arrondissement.
Step through one of the nine wrought-iron gateways into Parc Monceau and immediately you know that you have landed in a tranquil oasis not visited by many tourists. Meander the pathways of Parc Monceau and find statues (can you find Chopin playing the piano?), the Egyptian pyramid, and the Corinthian columns. Don’t miss the Rotunda at the main gates to the park on Boulevard de Courcelles. It is one of the remaining tollhouses from the wall built around Paris in 1787.
In 1797, Parc Monceau was the site of the first silk parachute jump. Can you find the monument commemorating this historic event?
When you have worked up an appetite, sit on one of the free benches, or spread your picnic blanket on the grass. You might be the only tourists around on this authentic Parisian picnic.
Location: 35 Blvd de Courcelles bordering the 8th and the 17th Arrondissement.
The branches of the enormous chestnut trees stretch across the bridges of Canal Saint-Martin as boats lazily make their way up and down the locks of the Canal. People of all ages sit on the edge of the canal swinging their legs and sharing a glass or two. This bustling place is Canal Saint-Martin. Wander down Rue de Lancry and pick up picnic supplies at some of the independent boutiques and find a bench by the canal to enjoy your Parisian picnic.
Needing some grass? The Jardin Villemin on the Quai de Valmy is a lovely small park where you can spread your picnic blanket out and relax. You just never know, maybe there will be a band playing on the bandstand.
Location: Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes in the 10th Arrondissement.
Place Louis Aragon
Situated on the point of Île Saint Louis is Place Louis Aragon. In true French fashion, bring a little collection of Louis Aragon’s poetry or fire up Youtube or Spotify for a selection of his songs sung by Leo Ferre. Now there’s a romantic way to start your Parisian picnic. You won’t find any grass in this location but there are a couple of benches to sit upon. Better still lean against the stone wall and watch the barge traffic bustling up and down the Seine. Look over your shoulder to see the Pantheon in the distance, and Notre-Dame Cathedral is also in view.
If you would like to be closer to the water, find one of the stairways leading down to the Seine and sit at the very point of Ile Saint-Louis on the stone pier. It’s a quiet and lovely location, one of my favorites in Paris. Leave room for an ice cream from the famous Berthillon shop nearby.
Location: Quai de Bourbon in the 4th Arrondissement.
Square du Temple – Elie Weisel
If you find yourself exploring in le Marais, another fantastic location for the perfect Parisian picnic is Square du Temple- Elie Weisel. This leafy green park is full of benches, a lovely pond with ducks, and Parisians on their lunch break from work. Square du Temple is a short walk from Marché des Enfants Rouges where you can order Moroccan couscous, Italian fare, or a famous delectable sandwich from Alain Miam Miam’s stall (just look for the long line up). There are plenty of shops along Rue de Bretagne to buy picnic supplies as well. Position yourself amongst the lovely flowerbeds or by the pond and soak up some moments of tranquil Paris.
Location: 64 rue de Bretagne in the 3rd Arrondissement.
[Andi’s note: We stayed in an Airbnb right across the street from this park and walked through it every day for 2 weeks. I can attest it is a great spot!]
Parc des Buttes Chaumont, one of the largest green spaces in Paris, is a favorite with locals thus making it a great choice for a Parisian picnic. Before settling on a grassy hillside for your picnic, wander a little and be sure to take in the magnificent views over Paris, particularly towards Montmartre. Did you find the suspension bridge, the 50-meter cliff topped with the Temple de la Sybille, and the hidden waterfall? From Thursdays to Sundays, augment your picnic with tapas, pizzas, or oysters (now there’s a French picnic for you!) at Rosa Bonheur, a bar situated in a little house at the northern end of the park. You’re sure to be surrounded by locals.
Location: 1-7 rue Botzaris in the 19th Arrondissement.
Place des Vosges
Thanks to Henry IV this gorgeous square was finished in 1605 and today remains one of Paris’s most beautiful. The fountains in each corner, the ancient chestnut trees, and the stunning architecture of the surrounding red brick buildings make this the perfect place for a Parisian picnic.
You will be in good company as this is a favorite place for Parisians to gather. Find your spot on the grass amongst families and sunbathers and spread out that red-checkered tablecloth. Ah! This is the life!
Location: in the 4th Arrondissement.
Le Parc de la Villette
Le Parc de la Villette is perfect for a Parisian picnic paired with an outing. There are plenty of grassy areas at Parc de la Villette as this the largest park in Paris with 55 hectares. Built on the site of the former slaughterhouses, this large park, and the cultural area has the Music Museum and the City of Science and Industry museum, the largest science museum in Europe. There is plenty of walking and cycling to do along the Ourcq Canal here. Don’t miss the open-air cinema in the summer (this year due to Coronavirus it was necessary to book a ticket online as numbers were limited) or the chance or pilot your own little boat around the Bassin de la Villette. Allow plenty of time for exploring on this Parisian picnic.
Location: 211 Avenue Jean Jaures in the 19th Arrondissement.
Author bio: Alison Browne’s website Dreamer at Heart tells tales of her five years of mostly solo nomadic travel in various parts of the world. She is currently living her dream in Paris where she landed just before the confinement began.
Merci Alison for the brilliant post on Paris picnics! Given our love for picnics in the Misadventures family, it is a subject that I have wanted to write about for quite a while!
And if we can’t get to Paris to picnic you can bring the Paris picnic to you with one of my favorite books:
Picnic at Home: Paris Picnic Club
A weekly picnic with friends that turned into a pop-up restaurant, that turned into a blog, that turned into a beautifully illustrated book chronicling the journey and recipes of Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt, the Paris Picnic Club is one of my favorites! Mr. Misadventures and I absolutely love to picnic and do it wherever we are in the world!
A great spot to get picnic supplies is at a [farmers] market, here are some tips for etiquette to ensure the best experience!
Illustration commissioned from Linden Eller.
How about you? Have you ever picnicked in Paris? Have you tried out any of these 9 spots? How about another? Do share! Do you love picnics in general? What’s your go-to picnic meal? Do tell!
For a visual summary of this post, check out my Paris Picnic web story!
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