Eating out in Paris can prove quite costly. So when I found out that le pique-nique is a favourite past time of Parisians, I made it my mission to find the best picnic place in town. For a city with not so many green spaces, it turns out that Paris is a picnicker’s paradise. The city is peppered with plenty of great spots to unfurl a blanket and sit and enjoy a baguette and a bottle of wine for an inexpensive meal in some of the city’s best locations.
The Promenade Plantée is the longest park in Paris; an old viaduct that stretches 4.5 km from the Bastille right out to the Bois de Vincennes, the largest park in Paris. The promenade is elevated above the rooftops of Paris and so offers an escape from the bustle and noise of the city below. In a quiet corner it is possible to have a private picnic in absolute peace. It is also not far from the Marché d’Aligre, one of the city’s most famous markets, where visitors can pick up supplies of fresh fruit, delicious patés, cheeses and still-warm bread from the countless bakeries in the area.
The steps leading down from the Sacré Couer on the Butte de Montmartre (Montmartre hill) have some amazing views over the sloping rooftops of Paris. After the sun sets you will be in the best place to see why Paris is called ‘the City of Light,’ as all of the main attractions light up and the boulevards below become long streams of shimmering light. Street performers often assemble at the bottom of the steps to entertain the picnickers and passers-by.
In the summer months, I enjoyed picnics in some of the bigger parks while taking in a free show or concert. A temporary giant screen is assembled at Parc de la Villette in the northeast of Paris that shows old films to anyone who cares to watch. The Jardins du Luxembourg on the left bank hosts free concerts and puppet shows for the kids. In the Parc du Champs de Mars visitors can feast right beside the Eiffel Tower. At night, be sure to see the biggest light show in town, every hour, as 20,000 bulbs sparkle to life to illuminate the great tower.
However, I stumbled upon my favourite spot of them all quite by accident. Crossing the Seine one evening over Pont des Arts (a pedestrian bridge just beside the Louvre) I passed families, friends and couples bunched on blankets enjoying candlelit meals as the sun slowly set behind the Eiffel tower further down the river. The next evening, I prepared a picnic and settled down with some friends on an old table cloth to talk and watch as the boats glided beneath us.
In my mind there is no better way to wile away the long summer evenings in Paris than by packing a picnic and heading to the Pont des Arts or one of the many parks or promenades for a picnic- Parisian style.
I am a 23 year old freelance writer. I am originally from England, though I have spent the last 2 years living in Paris. My main passion is fiction, though I have recently combined my love of writing with my love of travelling. I have had articles published in The Guardian (UK) and on the travel site Simon Seeks (www.simonseeks.com). I have had short fiction published in various magazines and journals including Fogged Clarity, A Long Story Short and Sybil’s Garage. I am the creator of the Paris based ‘zine Do Not Look at the Sun (www.donotlookatthesun.com), and I also work part time as a handyman and tour guide to help pay the bills.