Picnicking in Paris

By Alysa Salzberg, Tue, Apr 8, 2014

With countless parks and a (totally justified) reputation for being beautiful in the spring, it seems like Paris would be the ideal spot for a picnic.  This is true – with a caveat: most of those parks don’t have grass, but landscaping and gravel paths.  The ones that do have lawns often have signs posted reading Pelouse Interdite – “Keep off the grass.”


But don’t despair – there are some wonderful places to have a picnic in the City of Light!  And not only are picnics a fun way to enjoy the ambiance of the city; they’re also a great way to save money.  Most ingredients for a typical Parisian-style picnic can be (and usually are) bought at cheap local grocery stores and boulangeries: some baguette, wine, cheese, and, if you want, an assortment of snack foods or cold cuts are all you need!  Now that you’ve got the typical ingredients, here are some typical places Parisians gather for bona fide picnics:


1. The banks of the Seine

Although they don’t feature a soft place to sit – or even very many benches – the banks of the Seine are THE locale for Parisian picnickers.  It may seem strange at first, but once you settle on the stones just beside the water, you’ll find you can’t help but admire the beautiful city around and above you, and the waters of the Seine rushing by.




2. The Pont des Arts

This wooden pedestrian bridge that connects the Louvre and the Institut de France offers great views in all directions. It also has a young, relaxed vibe, with locals and tourists alike picnicking and socializing in nice weather, usually with someone in the group playing a guitar.  Although they’re frowned on by city officials, love locks hang from the fence-like barriers of both sides of the bridge, adding to the youthful ambiance. 




3. The Champ de Mars

Grass seems to be off-limits in most Parisian parks, but that doesn’t usually apply to the Champ de Mars, the long, pretty park with the Eiffel Tower standing proudly at its northern end.  On a nice day, not only can you have a dejeuner sur l’herbe; you can also take some great photos with the Eiffel Tower in the background.




There are, of course, other places to picnic in Paris, including the banks of the Canal St. Martin and the Canal de l’Ourcq, which are generally a bit less architecturally lovely than the banks of the Seine, but just as pleasant, in terms of ambiance.  Some other parks might let you on the grass at certain times of the year, as well.  If you’re staying somewhere that has a park nearby, take a stroll and see if there is a picnic opportunity there.  Even if you can’t get on the grass, you can sit with a friend on a bench and have a sandwich while admiring the pretty views in places like the Jardin du Luxembourg.


So if your dream is to have a picnic in Paris, you’ve definitely got choices.  And sometimes, the one you might not have originally pictured might make for the most memorable experience of all.  Bon appétit!


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