If the forecast is to be believed, the temperature fluctuations of the past couple of weeks will soon be over and the warm weather will be here to stay. Which means it’s almost time for my favourite season in Paris – Picnicking Season. This year, as the pandemic continues, picnicking will likely become even more common, as it is a COVID-friendly alternative to meeting indoors. It also happens to be a classic Parisian pastime, as well as just plain fun. So with picnicking season almost upon us, here are my top five places to picnic in Paris.
Parc de la Villette
I’ve written before about how this contemporary park and cultural hub is a hidden gem of Paris, and I stand by that assessment. The Parc de la Villette is an incredible place, filled with contemporary artwork, modern structures, and cultural buildings. It’s also home to over a hundred acres of fields and grassy open spaces, meaning it’s the perfect place for a picnic. Especially now, as there’s plenty of room to spread out and social distance. And in the summer, the main field is transformed into a free outdoor cinema, meaning day or night, this is the ideal place for a picnic.
Parc Buttes Chaumont
The Parc Buttes Chaumont may have a sordid history, but today, it is a beautiful place to lay down a blanket and spend a few hours with friends and family. The rolling hills give you plenty of amazing views, and if you decide to make camp around the lake, the gorgeous Temple de la Sibylle towers over you to complete the vista. I’ve spent countless hours picnicking in this park over the years, and I regret none of them.
Canal St. Martin
Picnicking along the Seine is a quintessential Parisian experience. As a result, everyone who visits Paris wants to have this experience. While this is not a bad thing, if you do head to the Seine, you may find yourself picnicking among your fellow visitors with nary a local in sight. However, if you want to picnic along a body of water but don’t want to be surrounded by tourists, do as the locals do and head to the Canal St. Martin. The banks of the canal are always lively and bustling, and the neighbourhood is filled with trendy restaurants if you want to continue your day once the wine and cheese have run out.
Bois de Vincennes
This beautiful park is slightly off the beaten path, as it’s located to the east of the city in the suburb of Vincennes. But I assure you, it is worth the trip. The Bois de Vincennes is fully three times larger than Central Park in New York, meaning there’s miles of walking paths to explore and hundreds of acres for picnics. My personal favourite spot is the area around the Lac Daumesnil. If you’re feeling particularly adventuresome, the lake is filled with boats to rent for you to show off your rowing skills.
Champ de Mars
I know, I know. So far, I’ve deliberately highlighted the lesser known parks and places to picnic, as I want to help you discover new neighbourhoods in the city. But I simply can’t make a list of places to picnic in Paris and not include the Champ de Mars. Yes, it’s touristy, and yes, you will be asked a thousand times if you want to buy a bottle of beer or a souvenir Eiffel Tower. But with the actual Eiffel Tower right in front of you, the view makes it all worth it. And when the sun goes down and the lights come on? Magic. The Champ de Mars. It’s a classic picnicking spot for a reason.
Of course, you are welcome to bring whatever food and wine you wish to your picnic, but there is one thing you can’t leave home without. A corkscrew! The screw cap craze of North America has not made its way over to France just yet, so if you want to enjoy that bottle of wine you brought, don’t forget your corkscrew!
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.