Our 4 favourite picnic spots in Paris. For those of you who are visiting Paris this summer, you don’t want to miss out on a favourite Parisian activity: picnicking in one of the beautiful gardens of the French capital!
Picnicking in Paris
When the warm days appear and the sun starts to pop its head up, there is a great temptation to spend a day outside picnicking.
Most of the large Parisian gardens include inviting lawns inviting us to spread a red-and-white checked tablecloth, to unpack the picnic basket, and to lay back for a little “sieste” under the warm sun.
Some people prefer to plan the picnic in advance with folding seats and cool boxes, and others spontaneously grab a baguette and some delightful ingredients en route and head to a park.
A “park etiquette” to respect!
In Paris it is good to know one the local rules of the parks which are enforced by the City of Paris as “park etiquette” varies greatly compared to Australia and other countries. The access to the lawns is in theory authorised between the 15th April to the 15th October. Outside this period, it is forbidden to walk on the grass in order to allow for its regeneration.
Private and family picnics of less than 30 people are allowed on condition that the place is thoroughly cleaned before leaving. Remember that this is not Australia: fires, barbecues and alcoholic beverages are all forbidden!
When picnics or meals are being planned with more than 30 people, a special permit must be delivered by the City Hall. If you wish to organise a picnic outside the park then you must apply for a special permit at the Préfecture de Police (7-9 Boulevard du Palais, Paris 4th arrt).
In most Parisian gardens you can find the traditional green park chairs that have become iconic, where people sit alone or in groups, with a picnic or a simple book.
So, where are the best picnic spots? Here are three of our favourite places …
The Luxembourg Garden
Among the many parks and gardens of Paris, the Luxembourg Garden is certainly one of our favourite green spaces. Made up of mainly formal gardens, this gathering place of Parisian high society also offers a relaxing space thanks to the English garden located along the rue Guynemer and rue Auguste-Comte. This space is enhanced by orchids and vines.
The park owes its popularity to its magnificent trees, particularly the grand horse chestnut trees and the paulownias. A little orangery boasts rose bushes, palm trees, camphor trees and also pomegranate trees. In the formal garden area, located on the axis of the Luxembourg Palace, an open space created by Le Nôtre is organised around an octagonal basin. Highlights of this park is the play area for children, the Guignol puppet show, the old fashioned kiosks where you can buy ice cream and sweet treats, the beautiful basin surrounded by stone statues the band stand and the Medici fountain.
The Tuileries Garden
The impeccably formal Garden of the Tuileries was designed and laid out from 1640 by André Le Nôtre along the Historical Axis that he started to trace. The garden is bordered along all its length, by Rue de Rivoli to the North and River Seine to the South. It remains the largest and oldest public garden in Paris today.
From the Place du Carrousel, the Tuileries Garden offers an unbroken vista along the centreline of the Historical Axis towards the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe and the Grande Arche.
The green esplanade of the Champ de Mars spreads between the classical façade of the École Militaire and the famous Eiffel Tower. The park is named after the Roman god of war: Campus Martius (Field of Mars).
The Champ de Mars is a place full of history: it is there that the first hydrogen-filled balloon was launched on the 27th August 1783 and the first “Federation Day” took place on the 14th July 1790, now known as Bastille Day.
The vast esplanade welcomed the World Exhibitions of 1867, 1878, 1889, 1900, and 1937. Anywhere you sit in the park you will have a majestic view of the Eiffel Tower – so grand that you will never forget it!
The Pont des Arts
Art historian Kenneth Clark wrote about the Pont des Arts in his book “Civilisation” (1969):
“I am standing on the Pont des Arts in Paris. On the one side of the Seine is the harmonious, reasonable facade of the Institute of France, built as a college in about 1670. On the other bank is the Louvre, built continuously from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century: classical architecture at its most splendid and assured. Just visible upstream is the Cathedral of Notre Dame – not perhaps the most lovable of cathedrals, but the most rigorously intellectual façade in the whole of Gothic art.”
Although not a public garden, the footbridge attracts casual picnickers from sunset with a relaxed and fun atmosphere. The night-time view from the bridge onto the Île de la Cité and Pont-Neuf, and from the Louvre to the Institut de France is unforgettable. There the City of Light appears more beautiful than ever!
(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin and (v) for verbs
- authorisation = autorisation (f)
- City of Light = Ville-Lumière (f)
- cool box = glacière (f)
- garden = jardin (m)
- folding seat = siège pliable (m)
- footbridge = passerelle (f)
- Historical Axis = Voie Triomphale (f)
- lawn = pelouse (f)
- nap = sieste (f)
- parisian = parisien (m), parisienne (f)
- park = parc (m)
- picnic = pique-nique (m)
- to picnic = pique-niquer (v)
- picnic basket = panier à pique-nique (m)
- red-and-white checked tablecloth = nappe à carreaux rouge et blanc (f)
- summer = été (m)
- sun = soleil (m)