For your next dinner in Paris, how about soaking up the French atmosphere outdoors, be serenaded by local musicians, and save a bit of money? Not at a bistro or café. Travelling can get expensive and it can become tedious eating out all the time, no? Every once in a while, you just want to pick up a baguette, some cheese and wine for dinner. I suggest you have a picnic in Paris. I’ll help you choose a location.
May 12, 2020 Update: After 8 weeks of lockdown, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Paris opened up again; however, many folks are still not doing social distancing and are drinking along the water’s edge. As a result, alcoholic drinks are now banned until further notice if you are on the banks of the Seine or Canal du Midi. While the Mayor of Paris wanted parks and gardens to open, her request was declined by the French government. So for now Parisians will have to stick with the Seine and Canal for some nature.
Pont des Arts
Location: It is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine River and joins the Place de L’Institut de France and the Cour Carée of the Palais de Louvre.
This is the famous bridge that used to have the love locks—-padlocks that lovers used to attach to the bridge until the government removed them all due to fears of the bridge collapsing. At dusk, tourists and locals will bring baguettes, cheese, wine and blankets and camp out on the bridge while musicians serenade the onlookers. I did it one August evening and it was lovely.
Luxembourg Gardens (Le Jardin du Luxembourg)
Location: north of Boulevard Saint Germain in the 6th arrondissement
These lovely gardens also have tennis courts, a fountain, statues, a playground for children, and a carousel. I have frequented the path that goes around the perimeter of the gardens as it is perfect for running. There are also many chairs throughout the gardens and the most popular spot is surrounding the basin pond. Another idea is to visit when there is a free concert. One afternoon I sat by the gazebo to listen to a band play music. I was able to order a glass of wine from Le Pavillon de la Fontain.
Place des Vosges
Location: in the Marais district
It has the oldest planned square in Paris. When the weather is nice, it is popular for picnics as the square is tree-lined and surrounded by houses which date back to 1612. There are many trees and fountains and you are allowed to walk and sit on the grass and have a picnic.
Champ de Mars
Location: The grassy area in front of the Eiffel Tower is the Champ de Mars.
Only certain areas are available for picnics and sitting on the grass and from this location you’ll have a perfect view of the Tower.
Square du Vert-Galant
Location: at the tip of Ile de la Cité, which is one of the islands on the Seine River
There is a little park which has many trees and shaded areas for a picnic. Just take the stairs down from the Pont Neuf bridge,
Along Canal Saint-Martin
Location: The Canal Saint-Martin is just east of Gare de l’est in the 10th arrondissement
I love the area because it is not only very peaceful, but it also has some excellent stores, restaurants and bars. Only in the past few years has the area become more of a tourist attraction. It is one of Paris’ hidden gems. One of the best places for breads and pastries is Du Pain et Des Idées (4 Rue Yves Toudic). A lot of the movie, “Amélie” was filmed here as well.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Location: This is a large park is in the north east part of Paris, east of Canal Saint-Martin in the 19th arrondissement
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is the 5th largest park in Paris and when I visited recently I was floored that there was a waterfall, an old unused railway bridge, and an artificial lake…..in Paris!
Location: The Promenade Plantée is also called the Coulée Verte René-Dumont and it is located just 220 metres south of Place de la Bastille on Rue de Lyon. There is a stairway entrance on your left: Le Viaduct des Arts.
The Promenade is an elevated walkway that was built on a former railway. It lasts for about 5 kilometers and has benches and lots of greenery. A very pleasant, quiet place away from all the action (but not too far away) to have a picnic. Check out my post for more pictures and details: Relaxing Paris Oasis: Promenade Plantée.
Tips For Your Picnic In Paris
There are some parks where you can’t sit or walk on the grass. Watch out for these two signs:
“Pelouse Interdit” (Keep off the grass)
“Priére de ne pas marcher sur les pelouses” (Please don’t walk on the grass).
Drinking alcohol in public places Each arrondissement in Paris has its own rules. Only licensed establishments can serve alcohol in Paris parks or gardens; however, many people bring their own wine when they picnic. They just don’t make it obvious. Keep in mind that the police will confiscate alcohol at Champ de Mars, by the Eiffel Tower. It’s also been said that drinking in parks after 9 pm is prohibited and if you are caught, you can be fined.
Where To Buy Your Provisions:
As Paris has so many excellent patisseries and boulangeries, it would be too long to mention. Check out my link on some of the popular ones and be sure to check out David Leibovitz’s app “Paris Pastry”. It is my bible; however, I do have to mention three of my favourites:
- Poilâne ( 8 rue du Cherche-Midi)-their breads are famous and shipped around the world but I really love their Chaussons Aux Pommes.
- Eric Kayser (18 Rue du Bac and many other locations
- Paul (77 Rue de Seine and many other locations)
Wine from 5e Cru Wine Bar (7 rue du Cardinal Lemoine)- you can have lunch and dinner here as well as just some wine and charcuterie. They have a vast assortment of wines to buy as well. I had lunch here and loved the wine and food!
Cheese-Laurent Dubois (47 boulevard Saint-Germain) is located near Metro: Maubert-Mutualite Metro and has the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) designation indicating the highest honour for a cheesemonger.
Supermarkets (Supermarche, Franprix, Carrefour), and department store Monoprix, have wine, cheese, and bakery sections in their stores. You’ll be able to pick up all your provisions at these stores if you are unable to find a specific boulangerie or wine merchant.
The wine store Nicolas are located all over Paris-these are chains and sell wine that’s inexpensive (and some expensive)
What’s your favourite food to bring on your picnic?
- If you’re looking for more unique experiences in Paris, check out my list: Unique Paris Experiences
- Read an expanded version of this article, listing places near-by each picnic spot where you can pick up provisions. It was published by DuVine Cycle and Adventure Company on March 1, 2016
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