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May 15, 2009 01:50 PM

Where to picnic in Paris, if at all?

Hi Chowhounds - My husband and I plan to spend much of our time in Paris (we're headed there next week - yeah!) exploring food shops and markets tasting all the wonderful bread, charcuterie, cheese, pastries, and veggies/fruits that the city has to offer. I have this image/fantasy/daydream of us spending the morning shopping on rue Montorgueil, rue Poncelet, or rue Cler for provisions and then settling down on a picnic blanket to a long, leisurely lunch on the grass in a park somwhere nearby. BUT, a friend who used to live in Paris (many years ago) recently burst my bubble by telling me that Parisians (unlike Americans) don't really picnic on the grass. Many people will eat simple lunches on benches in the park, but not the grass! Is this true? If so, are there any spots where a discrete blanket and picnic won't be looked at as odd or rude? Thanks for your advice.

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  1. My experience has been that in most parks/gardens, the grass is off limits. I think there are some places where you can sit on the grass, but I've also been chased off the grass in even small parks by the guards (I actually felt kind of bad for them: everyone was breaking the rules and enjoying the first spring day and here's this guy who has to ruin everyone's fun in the sunshine!).
    However, you can picnic on Champ de Mars, next to the Eiffel Tower! It's not uncommon, every so often I get an invite on Facebook to impromptu, "everyone come picnic on the Champ de Mars" events. Another advantage is that it's not far from rue Cler.

    1. It's hit or miss, but mostly people are on the grass.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hychka

        The Esplanade des Invalides is another one where people commonly set up camp on the grass. My observation is similar to riot grrl in that at many parks the grass is more for viewing than lounging.

      2. Buttes Chaumont is one of the most picturesque parks in all of Paris and you can picnic on the grass. Large and uncrowded. Very beautiful. Not too near your shopping streets. But not too long a metro ride from Montorgueil or Poncelet.

        Parc Monceau is close to Poncelet and you can also picnic on the grass there at least I do it often and never been hassled.

        1. Some of the big formal gardens like Luxembourg or the Tuileries keep people off he grass. My favourite central garden is the Rodin Museum, you have to pay to get in but it is really nice especially if you appreciate sculpture....but I can't remember if you can sit on the grass, I though you could.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PhilD

            We loved having a picnic at the Musée Rodin in the gardens..funny, I can't remember either if you can sit on the grass..

          2. Don't know how clean or romantic it would be but what about on the banks of the Seine down below street level? It's all concrete and some locals use it to sun bathe (with clothes). Otherwise, if you're OK with sitting on benches, another good green space would be Place des Vosges. (but if I recall, there were a number of young people just sitting on the grass so it may be allowed here).