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A picnicker’s guide to Paris
In city known for its parks, grab a baguette and cheese to enjoy a Parisian picnic
Between visits to museums, monuments, and gourmet restaurants, you’ll probably find yourself craving some more serene things to do in Paris, and the answer is a perfect Parisian picnic. When it’s time for a change of pace from the sightseeing and the itinerary, pick up some goodies to go and spread out your blanket in true local fashion at one of the city’s many beautiful greenspaces. From grass-filled parks to picturesque locales along the Seine, here are our favorite spots to soak up the sunshine over baguettes and pungent French cheeses—plus a bottle of wine, of course!
Champ de Mars
When in the City of Light, a trip to the Eiffel Tower is a no-brainer, but it means braving the crowds who flock to the city’s most iconic landmark. Snag admission tickets to bypass the lines from Universal Tour Guide, zip right up the elevator to check out the views, and when you’re done, head back down for a relaxing picnic among the greenery of Champ de Mars. Its sprawling lawns and tree-lined paths offer a respite from the hustle and bustle at the tower, and while you kick back, you can snap your best photo yet of its wrought iron grandeur.
The Gardens of Versailles
With nearly 2,000 acres (800 hectares) worth of manicured parterres, grand fountains, tranquil canals, and tucked-away groves to explore, the massive Gardens of Versailles are just the place to bring your picnic gear. Join the guides at Blue Bike Tours for a day trip to this legendary royal residence and pedal your way around the grounds to find a prime lunch spot after visiting the palace. Cycling through the gardens makes it easy to cover more distance and break away from the throngs of people, and the tour also includes your picnic supplies. Win-win!
Place des Vosges
Stock up on tasty picnic essentials in market heaven at Marché Bastille, and then head over to the nearby Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris. As you lounge on the landscaped lawns or the benches sprinkled among the trees, you’re surrounded by history—the site constitutes the first European example of royal city planning—and red brick houses dating back to the 17th century make a majestic backdrop.
The banks of the Seine
Lined with cobblestone promenades called quais where you can dangle your feet over the water below and bask in the waterfront views, the River Seine offers miles worth of picnicking possibilities. Grab goodies from the open-air market at Place Maubert and then mosey over to Quai de Montebello to munch while gazing across at Île de la Cité and the soaring spires of Notre-Dame. Or, after spending the morning browsing The Louvre with a skip-the-line ticket from PARISCityVISION, seek out the ideal spot to plop down for lunch along the Quai des Tuileries, which stretches along the length of the famed Jardin des Tuileries.
Jardin des Plantes
Many people come to the Jardin des Plantes for the Museum of Natural History, but Paris’ expansive botanical garden is well worth a visit just to wander among its beautiful and vast collection of plants, which includes a rose garden, an alpine garden, and 18th-century tropical greenhouses. It’s also only a short walk across the Seine from one of the city’s best spots to pick up a picnic spread—the bustling Aligre Market. Hop on a morning market tour offered by Meeting the French and let a local show you the best stalls to find crisp produce, fresh-baked bread, and artisan cheeses before heading over to the garden to feast.
Jardin du Luxembourg
In Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables, Cosette and Marius fall in love among the emerald green lawns, brilliantly colored flowerbeds, and elegant statues of the Luxembourg Garden, and it’s easy to see why. Delve into the 16th-century history of French queen Marie de’ Medici’s green haven, all while scoping out the best places to picnic on a guided stroll with the experts at Meeting the French. Afterward, grab a bench in front of the Italian Renaissance-inspired Medici Fountain, or settle down by the park’s tranquil central basin, where Parisian children come to sail model boats.
Bois de Vincennes
If you’re seeking the ultimate retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, Bois de Vincennes is the place to lose yourself in idyllic greenery without leaving Paris proper. Laid out across almost 2,460 acres (995 hectares) of fields, lakes, and forest, Paris’ largest public park offers an endless number of places to jog, relax, and of course, picnic. Explore the small islands that dot the glassy Lake Daumesnil, or venture into the woods on one of the park’s many hiking trails to find a spot that’s truly off the beaten path.
With so much outdoor beauty to be discovered in Paris, where will you lay your picnic blanket?
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