It’s spring, and sometimes there’s no better place than a city to experience the changing seasons. You can’t see the wide open spaces of nature or smell the fresh smells of the seaside, but the city can be a pleasant place. Picturesque parks and historic rivers make Paris a unique place for sunny days. And what better way to enjoy the rising temperatures and unique urban landscapes than a picnic?
Fiona McCoss, blogger of The Paris Pass, was on a mission to find the best places for a picnic in Paris – even if it means leaving feathers there! Now all you have to do is fold your tablecloth and put a bottle of French champagne in your picnic basket!
The Luxembourg Garden
This public garden, one of the best known in Paris, was originally a private garden. It was created in 1612 when Marie de Medici decided to make it a major botanical project. Through three walking paths spanning 23 hectares and colorful flowerbeds, you can see that his tastes were opulent but refined. The breathtaking Medici Fountain, erected in 1620, can still be admired where the park’s most iconic photos are taken and where the seasons are read through the leaves of the trees. The Jardin du Luxembourg is a favorite spot for Parisians but also for visitors who come in droves to picnic on the picturesque green and manicured lawns to enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the Palais du Luxembourg and the giant fountain the size of a swimming pool in front.
The Vert-Galant square
The Île de la Cité was the epicenter and hub of Paris. Home to two of the city’s best-known monuments, Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle, the island dates back to the Middle Ages when these two ecclesiastical masterpieces were built. As one of two natural islands in the Seine, Île de la Cité is close to one of the most impressive areas with not one but two monuments associated with its name. Although it can get a bit crowded, weave your way past the tourists to the tip of the island where you’ll find a tree-lined, cobbled boardwalk. The Square du Vert-Galant, that’s its name, is a quiet place with a view of the Seine where you can bring your picnic tablecloth and French dishes by stretching your legs on the edge of the ledge and enjoying of sight.
The Seine is the river that winds around the city. It is one of the symbols of Paris with its historic bridges which join the right and left banks and which offer beautiful panoramas to see the sunset. In summer, the annual “Paris Plages” stretch around the Seine and provide a nice alternative to park lawns for picnics. If you love the sun and want your beach fix, wait until this event returns to unwrap your sandwich and eat your strawberries. Lie back on a lounge chair and watch the world go by as roller skaters weave their way through the crowds in search of a little ray of sunshine along the banks of the Seine.
The Tuileries Garden
Opposite the impressive 12th century Louvre, with its symbolic glass pyramid and behind Place de la Concorde, is the Tuileries Garden. This central park in the 1st arrondissement of Paris is one of the most attractive destinations for a picnic. It is appreciated for its Horseshoe, its impressive Octagonal Grand Bassin and its symbolic Grande Allée for strolling in the afternoon after having a picnic. This atypical garden was laid out according to the Florentine fashion by Catherine de Medici in 1559 when she decided to settle near the Louvre .
However, it passed through the hands of several kings who degraded it by using it as a hunting ground or a menagerie! It is to King Louis XIV who restored it and gave it back all its splendour, that we owe this magnificent space for picnicking.
The Canal Saint-Martin
Paris has a canal, the Canal Saint-Martin, which is one of the favorite places of Parisians. This guarantees you an authentic Parisian experience anywhere on the 4.5 km of banks! It is an affordable but bourgeois district: which explains why people there are both simple and very chic, as in all cosmopolitan places. It’s a great place for young people between the ages of 20 and 30. The Canal Saint-Martin connects the Canal de l’Ourcq and the Seine, between the “Bastille” and “République” metro stations. The best parts of the canal are the locks, the bridges and the sunny corners where you can rest for hours. And even if you’re out of food or wine, there are plenty of grocers and bars where you can find what you’re looking for. Remember to bring a blanket anyway:
Preparing for the picnic
Once you’ve chosen your picnic destination (whether it’s a historic park, the banks of a canal, or a man-made beach), the next step is to figure out what to bring. As you are in Paris, it could be a crime to miss out on French traditions. Make sure you picked up a fresh, crispy baguette from the bakery to go with the smoked meat and some good cheese from the fromagerie. Brie or Camembert can be eaten hot and would probably resist heat better. Finish filling your picnic basket with fresh fruit, and maybe macaroons for dessert, and don’t forget the famous bottle of wine!