One of the best ways to see Paris is to roam with a map finding fabulous places, amazing buildings, gorgeous squares and awesome shops and markets… and more. There are some wonderful places to stop and replenish your energy but for many, nothing beats a picnic in Paris…
With blue skies and a warm sun, emerald green grass beckoning you to kick off your shoes, or a welcome bench to rest your weary feet while you listen to the sounds of the city and perhaps gaze at the Eiffel Tower poking up above the skyline – what could be more perfect. There are plenty of romantic places, private parks and absolutely stunning gardens to unpack your pique-nique and enjoy an al fresco meal. Just watch out for signs telling you not to go on the grass, some places are interdit (forbidden), that pristine grass that looks like it’s never been walked on – there’s a reason for that and if you break the rules you’ll find someone rushing over to order you off tout de suite!
Some of the best and most beautiful places to picnic in Paris
Picnic at Bois de Vincennes
Bois de Vincennes is the largest public park in the city at 2458 acres of land, it was created between 1855-1866 by the Emperor Louis Napoleon and is known as one of the “lungs” of Paris. You can visit the Château de Vincennes, a former residence of the Kings of France, admire the floral displays and landscape gardens with four lakes where you can hire a boat or sit in the shade of the arboretum. There’s a zoo (check to see if open), a velodrome for bicycle races and a hippodrome. In the summer the park hosts open air jazz concerts. This park is hugely popular with Parisians – especially on sunny days.
Picnic at Jardin du Luxembourg
The second largest park in Paris, created in the early 17th Century by Marie de Medici who had a palace built here. The gardens are formal with beautiful examples of parterre style planting, statues, a boating pond, an orchard and old carousel. There is a tranquil atmosphere in the park and with the petit Palace du Luxembourg as a backdrop – it is hard to imagine a nicer place to open your picnic basket and dream away a sunny afternoon.
Picnic at Jardin des Plantes
The Jardin des Plantes is the main Botanical garden of France and as you’d expect it is gorgeous when in full bloom. The gardeners take their role seriously here though, so make sure you stay off the grass where indicated. Admission to the gardens is free but you have to pay to go into the grand glass houses. With several themed gardens to enjoy and plenty of benches to sit on this makes for a rather genteel picnic area. Address and details on the Jardin des plantes website.
Picnic at Domaine st Cloud
For one of the best views of Paris the Domaine st Cloud, just outside and easily reached by metro is unsurpassable. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe and was once the site of the Chateau de St Cloud, home to French royalty but destroyed during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. Here you will find a Le Nôtre-designed garden in the French style (Louis IV’s gardener), an English garden, and Marie Antoinette’s rose garden but it is best known for the panoramic view of Paris from the point of “La Lanterne” or the “Lantern of Demosthenes”.
From Paris take the Metro: line 9, to Pont de Sèvres, line 10 to Boulogne-Pont de Saint-Cloud
Picnic at Buttes-Chaumont
Once the place where criminals were hung at the gallows of Paris, this is now a delightful park much loved by Parisians. After the French revolution it became a rubbish dump and was generally abandoned until the mid 19th Century when the famous Paris planner Haussmann decided it should become a park for the people. Today the park is a perfect picnic paradise with its grotto, waterfalls, lakes and English and Chinese style gardens. A place where you are hardly aware of the sights and sounds of the big city and where you can cross a suspension bridge to access an island in the lake where you’ll find the belvedere of Sybil, a Corinthian-style temple.
Picnic along the banks of the Seine
If you’re looking to create your own Paris picnic in the films moment or looking for an ‘urban’ picnic setting you can picnic along the Seine but it can get a little crowded in some of the prettier spots. Try the cobbled banks of Ile Saint-Louis, the Place Barye is a beautiful hidden spot and not as crowded as some areas. Enjoy a shady wander along the lovely Canal St. Martin (Métro stations: Stalingrad, République, Goncourt, Jaurès, Oberkampf, Richard-Lenoir, Bastille, and Quai de la Rapée). The Bassin de la Villette is the largest artificial lake in Paris and where you can take a small ferry from one side to the other.
Or – just grab your hamper, get a fresh baguette and some delicious pastries and find your own picnic paradise in Paris…
Ten incredible facts about Paris - including how many benches there are to sit and rest!
How to spend Summer in Paris and get away from the crowds
Where to buy the best baguettes in Paris…
The secret island that’s right in the middle of Paris!
Shakespeare and Company, the iconic Paris book shop
Paris Travel Guide
Paris Info, the main Paris tourist website has lots of details for Paris visits as well as money saving ideas such as the City Passport which offer unlimited Paris transport and sightseeing tours at a great price.