There’s way more than the Champ de Mars!
I first discovered the beautiful simplicity of Parisian picnics when I studied abroad there a decade ago. As broke students, we’d keep things simple: someone buys a few baguettes, some fruit, some cheese, and of course, a bottle of French wine. We’d always go to the Champ de Mars, where the Eiffel Tower is located, but now, after having lived in Paris many other times, I can say with confidence that the picnic is alive and well and that Parisians have several other favorite spots in which to enjoy the sunshine. Check out my top picks below for a picnic experience that’s a bit off the beaten path.
If you’re staying on the western side of Paris (near the Arc de Triomphe or the Place de la Concorde), you’d be hard pressed to miss Parc Monceau. It’s a lovely little park to relax for lunch after a morning of sight-seeing in the area. Monceau has been a park since the 17th century and is full of pretty little colonial architecture touches, like the Colonnade and classical statues.
I could probably write a book about how much I love Buttes Chaumont and every Parisian would buy it to support the idea. This place is truly stunning. Located in the 20th, it’s a beautiful crescent shaped park full of hilly lawns, running paths, and Art Deco touches. The top of the hill offers an incredible view of Paris – especially at sunset.
Located in the center of the trendiest district in Paris right now, the Canal St. Martin is an L-shape that runs from the top of the 18th arrondissement and into the 10th arrondissement, ending near the République area. On warm nights and afternoons, you’ll find Parisians from all over the city gathered on its banks to socialize and enjoy a snack or a drink together. As an added bonus, it’s right in the middle of a fantastic wine bar and restaurant scene – perfect to check out once you’ve finished your picnic!
One of Paris’ largest and most diverse parks, Parc de la Villette is its own oasis. It’s located in the northwest of Paris near the edge of the city. In it, you’ll find all kinds of quirky, interactive playgrounds and art exhibits. It’s also home to a robust amphitheater and concert series in spring and summer.
Love botanical gardens? You’ll love the Jardin des Plantes. One of Paris’ mostly artfully designed green spaces, the Jardin des Plantes is the perfect places to leisurely stroll and take in a quiet moment. It’s on the left bank, but is far from the central tourist traps so not often as crowded as a few of the other parks on this list. It’s also close to a few underrated museums, like the Institut du Monde Arabe, which has some beautiful exhibitions showcasing art and culture from the Islamic world.
I don’t venture over to the left bank often, but when I do, I always make sure to stop at the Jardin du Luxembourg. While some sections are a bit of a tourist trap, you can find more calm, tranquil areas toward the southern end. It’s a great place to people watch or watch retirees play pétanque (otherwise known as bocce ball).
These six parks are my favorites to visit and picnic when I’m on a trip to Paris and I hope you’ll consider a slow Parisian moment of your own while there! For more Paris recommendations, be sure to check out The Paris List and The Gambetta Guide. Santé !