‘Tis the season for dining and drinking al fresco. In Paris, that means taking advantage of every inch – or centimeter – of outdoor space with a view. Here is a list of my top 10 favorite picnicking spots around the city.
- Pont des Arts – No wonder this bridge attracts lovers far and wide showing their love with a lock because it’s one of the most beautiful spots in Paris. From east to west you get a glimpse of landmarks such as the Institut de France, the steeple of Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, the splitting of the Seine around Île de la Cité, the Louvre and peak of the Eiffel Tower. With the sun going down at 10 p.m. these days, it’s a great (and romantic) place to settle for a sunset picnic.
- Champ de Mars – There’s no Parisian picnic spot more iconic than the Champ de Mars – the grassy space below the Eiffel Tower. Hit up a nearby boulangerie, fromagerie and pâtisserie for bread, cheese and sweets for afternoon nibbles. When the sun goes down, enjoy a bottle of wine while the tower flickers on the hour. It may seem touristy, but picnicking here is surprisingly popular with the locals.
- Jardin du Palais Royal – North of rue Saint-Honoré is the Palais Royal, where Louis XIV spent his youth before moving across the street to the Louvre. While the palace isn’t open to the public, the courtyard and gardens are and offer a quiet refuge right in the center of Paris. My ideal picnic in the garden is by the center fountain, with a Bakesale Betty from Verjus in one hand, some form of dessert in the other, and friends by my side.
- Jardin du Luxembourg – One of Paris’ most cherished gardens is the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg. While the grass is usually covered with teenagers on their school lunch breaks, there is plenty of sitting room by the fountain and in the shaded gazebos. Grab a baguette at Boulangerie Madame (48 rue Madame), some sweet treats at Pâtisserie Aoki Sadaharu (35 rue de Vaugirard) and quiche and couscous from a hidden gem, Les Saveurs de Pierre Emile (62 rue de Vaugirard) and you’ll be set for a delicious picnic full of excellent people-watching.
- Place des Vosges – My favorite place to sit down and dig into falafel à emporter (from Chez Hanna or L’As du Falafel) is Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris. Each side is surrounded by a gorgeous red brick and white stone facade above the arcade. Located in the Marais – one of Paris’ trendiest quarters – the more secluded park is a great spot for a break from shopping and gallery browsing.
- Parc de Bercy – My newest discovery in Paris is the Parc de Bercy in the 12 arrondissement. The park is made up of three connecting gardens, each unique and unlike most of the jardins you see in Paris. From open lawn areas to an enchanting tree-lined canal, Parc de Bercy boasts a peaceful retreat from the main hustle and bustle of Paris. This is definitely the place to gather with friends if you want to see a new side of the city.
- Canal Saint-Martin – The Seine isn’t the only place to picnic au bord de l’eau in Paris. The Canal Saint-Martin is one of my favorite hang-outs, tucked away in the 10th arrondissement full of hip, new restaurants. If you’re headed there during the week, grab some bread and pastries from Du Pain et Des Idées and pop a squat by the water. You can also have pizza delivered to you from Pink Flamingo. Just stop by the restaurant, place your order and they will give you a pink balloon and find you on the canal.
- Parc des Buttes Chaumont – Venture up to Paris’ 19th arrondissement for a picnic at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Lay on the slanted grass, look out onto the lake and admire the iconic Temple de la Sibylle perched atop the Île de la Belvédère. Originally designed as a garden showcase by Napoleon III, the park features many varieties of plants and trees, offering shade for your afternoon on a blanket.
- By the Seine – There’s a spot for everyone along the long and windy Seine River, which features 32 bridges, touches 10 of the 20 arrondissements and provides ample sitting room on the banks. Picnicking by the Seine is a classic Parisian experience; one that should be enjoyed with a bottle of rosé and cone of Berthillon ice cream on a warm, summer day.
- Sacre Coeur – Don’t mind the pestering loiters trying to sell you beer and making cat calls as you walk by on the Sacre Coeur steps; this spot is the place for a panoramic view of Paris at sunset. Whether you bring a bottle of your finest wine or pop into a not-so-classy convenience store on your way up for mini-bottles of your choice, toasting over miles of Parisian rooftops can’t be missed.