During the summer, when days are long and nights are warm, one of the best things to do in Paris is to take a picnic. Whether you want to kick back under the Eiffel tower waiting for the champagne lights or sit with friends along the Seine listening to music, a picnic is the ultimate Parisian experience that will have you saying “oui, oui, oui” in no time. Here is my ultimate guide for a good time picnic in Paris.
Regardless of where you go, a picnic blanket is essential for any picnic in Paris. Not only is it a great way to keep your food off the grass/kerb but they also double as a blanket, great for using when the sun goes down and the temperature drops. If you are on a budget, your options are a makeshift rug using a towel or scarf that you brought from home. Or if you are fresh out of those, a plastic shopping bag does the trick just nicely! Otherwise, if you want to get fancy, pick one up from any number of boutiques around Paris (like a beautiful Kate Spade one for those looking to make a statement).
There is nothing worse than laying out your beautiful Kate Spade picnic rug, adorning it with all the delicious food you want to eat and realising the cheese you bought won’t cut itself! You can easily grab individual plastic cutlery sets from most supermarkets, delis or boulangeries (bakeries) that sell take away food. A true picnic enthusiast takes any opportunity to grab free cutlery whenever it’s around just in case of impromptu picnics later on.
A French picnic is not complete without wine and with a passion for tradition, most French bottles have a cork top. Unless you have the bottle opened upon purchase (most corner stores will do this for free if you ask nicely) it goes without saying that a bottle opener is a must. You can grab a cheap one from Carrefour or any supermarket for around 4 euro. However, be warned, you will turn into the DBO (Designated Bottle Opener) for anyone within a 1km radius.
For wine. Even if the French are happy to let people drink on their streets – have a bit of decorum and pour it into cups first. Your dry, unstained lips will thank you for it later.
Baguettes, baguettes and more baguettes. This essential item takes you from plain old drinking in a park and plonks you right into picnic territory. The tastiest and freshest are available from boulangeries (most likely to be on any and every street corner in Paris) and cost around 1 euro. 1 large baguette can be shared between 2 but don’t feel guilty if you want a whole one to yourself – they are extremely addictive! Tear them up and eat plain or do as the French do and simply add cheese.
Camembert, Brie or Roquefort, pick one or many. A picnic with a bigger group of people is a great way to try a few different types of cheese without breaking the bank. Most nice supermarkets (try Le Grande Epicure) will have pre-packaged assortments that take the guesswork out of choosing. Look for one that comes on some sort of tray to make cutting easier.
If you are not using one to transport your baguettes or as a makeshift rug you will definitely need one to clean up after you are done. While rubbish bins are generously dispersed throughout the city and especially in parks, it is very important to remember to clean up after yourself and put all your rubbish in the bin. Bringing a plastic bag along with you just makes this part easier.
That’s all the essentials, the rest is up to you!