You got the rundown on what to pack for a proper Parisian picnic so you’re all set to unpack and prêt à manger (ready to eat). So, where to go now?
For a city the size of Paris (it’s relatively compact, but full of humans) there is a surprisingly large number of both larger and more intimate picnic spaces. The following list is just a fraction of spots good for setting up shop for a little nibble or going all-out with an edible spread;
- Bois de Vincennes – This is one of two large greenspaces located in Paris (technically it is located in the east of Paris, on the edge of the 12th arrondissement but semantics.) It is the capital’s second-largest ‘green lung’, after the Bois de Boulogne (also a sweet spot) and there are many, many, many spots to enjoy a picnic. From a field of poppies with a view of a chateau to many lakeside and lush, leafy forested areas, you can enjoy all-day picnicking and playing and if you want to play a round of mini-golf or ping pong, pay a visit to Parc Floral on the edge of the park, across from the chateau.
- In the lively Marais district, Place du Marché Sainte Catherine provides a sit-down option, shade during the summer, shops to check-out and action to keep your attention. There are some food shops nearby so you won’t have to travel far to grab your grub and enjoy the scene. Hôtel de Ville is also a superb place to grab a seat and enjoy an evening apéro. It is dramatic, especially at sunset, and nearby.
- Speaking of The Hôtel de Ville, with its location right by the Seine, not far from The Louvre, The Pompidou and reeeeaaalllly close to so many other sights, THdV is a great bet and there are long, relatively wide and low wooden plank-style benches that make great tables too. The expansive square and carousel also make it great for kids to get their willies out and maybe even strike up an impromptu Parisian playdate as there are always local kids whizzing around on scooters and bicycles.
- Parc Montsouris is just into the more southerly located 14eme (and very close to the 13eme and trendy Butte aux Cailles district) and with its central lake, foliage-covered hills and easy-peasy access by public transport, this may be the best sort-of-on-the-down low parks in Paris. With a play area, gentle hills for kids (or grownups, no judgment) to roll down, varied terrain and a lakeside kiosk cafe, this park isn’t huge, but it has everything you’d want.
- Probably the most varied and popular spots for locals and tourists alike is, of course, The Seine. All along the river, you’ll find both bustling spots as well as the more quiet areas that are generally found on the Île de la Cité, a natural island in the middle, on which stands Notre Dame de Paris. There are benches scattered along the banks and the city has actually set up a number of floating park-like areas with seating and free wi-fi, but many river revelers simply have a seat on the wall (that *usually* holds the water back pretty well) while they munch on jambon beurre sandwiches and sip some cool white wine.
If there’s one thing you almost never have to worry about in Paris, it’s where to find a picnic spot. The city has done an incredible job of making so many spaces available to the public to set up and chow down. Parks, plazas, green spaces and jardins (gardens) abound for the reveling. When in doubt, just look for where the others are picnicking, follow suit and enjoy.