A Parisian Picnic
It's almost like a Hollywood set, nearly too good to be true. But it's all joyfully real; the stunning backdrop scenery, stage set gardens and markets overflowing with gourmet props providing the perfect plot for a happy ending.
Preparing your Paris picnic
Finding food is easy. Even the most basic grocers will have everything you need for a picnic with undeniably French flavoring. A package of Caprice des Dieux cheese, sliced ham, a baguette and a basket of strawberries and you've got the makings of a fairytale. Or do it like a movie star and splash out at La Grande Epicerie de Paris for the ultimate one-stop shop in putting together an over-the-top picnic. The foie gras is just waiting to melt in your mouth, caviar is always an option and the champagne is on ice.
For a French film feeling, it can be even more fun to visit a market street, like the rue Lourmel below the Dupleix metro stop in the 15th arrondissement, a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Here you'll find Meilleur Ouvrier de France Laurent Dubois selling irresistibly aromatic cheeses and the boulangeire Alsacienne with baguettes still hot to the touch. Lourmel rotisserie has finger-friendly roast meats ready for a nibble and the fishmonger next door is happy to prepare a shell-full of shrimp to go. There is also a fruit and vegetable stand and La Cave de Lourmel wine shop to top things off.
Where to picnic?
In Paris, the picnic options are virtually endless: the selfie-seductive Place des Vosges; the lauded Luxembourg Gardens? There are parks and squares pocketed into every neighborhood, although it is important to note that many of them provide those picturesque green benches because you're not allowed on the grass. Check for signs before spreading out your blanket. For something truly special, the quays of the Seine are car-free along the Rive Gauche, as are the two islands in between, providing the perfect space for picnics à deux, with legs dangling toward the river as it meanders below. Ideal for families, the Champs de Mars stretches out from under the skirt of the Eiffel Tower, creating a large picnic-ready green space with a playground and a view that sings “Paree.” If you're a group, or looking for locals, head to the Canal de l'Ourcq as it runs into La Villette park in the 19th arrondissement and take your pick between land or sea. Adventurers may want to capture the vibe of the great outdoors in either the Bois de Boulogne or the Bois de Vincennes. To the extreme east and west of the city, both parks offer rolling lawns with tiny corners to tuck into and large lakes for an afternoon row.
If you'd like to bring home the picnic version of the Oscar, French company Peugeot has a reputation for serious kitchen utensils and they are particularly famous for their sommelier corkscrews, available at their car showroom on the Champs Elysées. Opinel makes the classic (and very affordable) picnic knife that can be found in every French kitchen and is perfect for cutting into your cheese course. Available at hardware stores throughout the city, the biggest selection is at the BHV department store on the rue de Rivoli. Hardware stores, like Droguerie Thanner at 30 rue de Buci in the 6th arrondissement, carry Opinel knives and the Parisian market baskets, for a picnic that's ready for the silver screen. A blanket is a picnic basic and nothing is more French than Jacquard, which you can find at Rêve Blanc, #28 on the charming market street rue Daguerre (another great option for finding your fixin's!)
If this is a special picnic and you want everything to be just so without spending your time hunting down supplies, Paris Picnic is the prefect picnic producer. Russian born, US bred Katya spent her honeymoon in Iceland, and moved to Paris shortly after being wed. She fell in love with picnicking in Paris and set out to make it better for everyone. While she is open to special requests, like a basket of nothing but chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne, Paris Picnic offers four different paniers with everything you need, delivered in a charming vintage three wheeled truck, exactly where you need it, for a Paris Picnic ready for “lights, camera, action!”
Get around in style
There is hardly a more perfect way to move around Paris with a picnic than a bike. Like so many other great cities Paris has a bike service. Just find a Vélib station and follow the on-screen instructions. Then take out a bike and roll around Paris like a boss. When you're done you can return the bike at any Vélib station. Find out more about Vélib stations here.
by Sylvia Sabes
Photos: Paris Picnic and Sylvia Sabes