July 4, 2011
Riverside picnicking by the Seine (Malias)
Summer is at last upon us, and with it comes the opportunity to partake in the favorite past time of many Parisians: Le Pique-nique. The possibilities for picnics in Paris are endless -from benches and bridges, to parks and promenades- so when the weather is warm, there are few better ways to wile away the long summer evenings than by gathering some people, bread and wine and picnicking like it’s the last supper. Here are a few places to enjoy the perfect picnic…
Picnicking staples: le vin, le pain, le paté! (Kari Geltemeyer)
The medieval gardens at the Museum of the Middle Ages
The institution of the picnic dates back to medieval Europe, when outdoor feasts were served before hunting, so what better place to have a picnic than where it all began? The medieval-inspired gardens beside the Musée National du Moyen Age, right in the heart of the Latin quarter, offer a tranquil haven from the bustling Boulevard Saint Germain. Split into three sections, the names of the gardens sound like something straight out of King Arthur. Past the ‘carpet of a thousand flowers’ and through the ‘sunken lane’ you come to a courtyard headed by a silver reed fountain. Within lie a quartet of square gardens with period-inspired themes: a medicinal garden, a celestial garden, a vegetable patch and a garden of love. When it comes time to unpack your basket, head beyond the courtyard to the shady glades of the ‘unicorn forest.’ Hidden behind a woven wicker fence, medieval plants like hazel, elder, holly and medlar reign supreme here. Through the ‘forest’ you can even glimpse the ruins of the only remaining Roman baths in Paris.
Musée du Moyen Age. 1 rue de Cluny, Metro: Cluny la Sorbonne (line 10)
Gardens of Cluny museum – Erica Berman
Pont des Arts
The Pont des Arts might as well be renamed the Pont des Pique-niques. This pedestrian bridge stretching out over the Seine from the Louvre is a perfect place for families, friends and couples to gather for an impromptu picnic. You can join them every evening bunched on blankets laid across the wooden slats, and enjoy a candlelit meal as the sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower further down the river. Free of traffic, you can enjoy your picnic to the sound-track of the gentle hum of boats and barges that pass beneath and the the soft ripples of the river lapping the banks below.
Pont Des Arts. Metro: Pont neuf (line 7), Louvre-Rivoli (line 1)
Pont des Arts (JF Gornet)
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Formed on the site of an old gypsum quarry, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is the steepest park in Paris. It is well worth the hike up this rocky hill to witness the stunning views of Paris at the summit. Beyond that, a waterfall, lake, caves and a suspension bridge are all waiting to be discovered during leisurely, post-picnic strolling, as well as a playground and puppet shows for the children in the summer.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Metro: Buttes Chaumont (line 7 bis), Laumière (line 7)
Parc des Buttes Chaumont (Celine Willard)
Parc de la Villette
Just off the Canal de l’Ourq in the north east of Paris, the Parc de la Villette is a vast grassy expanse, with flat fields perfect for playing games and enjoying the shows and live music performances put on there throughout the summer. During July and August, classic and modern hits are screened (for free!) at the open air cinema on a giant inflatable screen. Ten themed gardens to suit both young and old are spread across the rest of the park, including a fog garden, a mirror garden and a bamboo garden.
Parc de la Villette. Metro: Porte de la Villette (line 7), Porte de Pantin (line 5)
The Promenade Plantée, an old viaduct that stretches three miles from the Bastille right out to the Bois de Vincennes, is the longest park in Paris. The promenade runs level with the rooftops of Paris and offers a magical, elevated, almost voyeuristic, view of the city below. On a bench set back from the thoroughfare of joggers and strollers, you can sit and watch the world pass by in absolute peace. Handily enough, the park passes not far from the Marché d’Aligre, one of the city’s most famous produce markets, where visitors can pick up all the picnic essentials: fresh fruit, delicious patés, an array of cheeses and still-warm bread from the countless bakeries in the area.
Promenade Plantée. Metro: Bastille (lines 1, 5, 8), Gare de Lyon (Line 1, 14), Daumesnil (line 8, 6)
A few Parisian picnic essentials… What do you take on a picnic?
-Bottle of wine
-Blanket and basket (optional)
- Picnic post 1 on HiP Paris. Tory Hoen shares her favorite Paris picnic spots here
- Aside from picnicking, here are some frugal tips for making the most of Paris – from Pret à Voyager
- Here are some top Paris picnic spots from The Guardian
- Or you could get Amelie to hand-make and deliver a picnic to you on the Canal Saint Martin…
Written by Anthony Cuthbertson
Anthony Cuthbertson is a writer, editor, and founder of the Paris based off-beat literary magazine, Do Not Look at the Sun. Born and raised in England, Anthony moved to Paris after meeting a beautiful french girl one Halloween, whilst dressed as the Milkybar Kid. His work has appeared in various journals and publications, including Notes from the Underground, Fogged Clarity and The Guardian.
Website: Do Not Look at the Sun
Tags: Anthony Cuthbertson, Cluny Museum, Gardens at Cluny Museum, Musee du Moyen Age, parc de la villette, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Paris for kids, Parisian Picnic, Picnic, Picnic in Paris, picnics, Pont des Arts, promenade plantee
Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 7 Comments »