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May 13, 2014 03:55 PM

Favorite place to picnic in Paris and get provisions

We will be in Paris for 4 days before moving onto Burgundy and Provence. We've been to Paris a few times before, but always during the fall or winter, so we've never had good weather to do a picnic. This time, we will be there mid-June. So, where are your favorite spots and provisions?

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  1. Favorite spot: The Medici fountain in the Luxembourg gardens - provisions from either the Grande Epicerie at Au Bon Marche or the market on the Rue de Seine/Rue de Buci.

    I like the Parc Monceau a lot, too, but I don't know of any great market streets nearby.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Savour

      For the Parc Monceau, the nearby rue de Lévis just off the bd Courcelles/ ave Villiers is a superb rue commerçante/ market street.

      For anywhere in the Luxembourg (but the only grassy bits "officially" available for picnicking/ sunbathing are at the ave de l'Observatoire end of the park), the covered Marché Saint Germain, the rue de Buci/ rue de Seine shops, the Marché Maubert on Tue, Thu and Sat mornings, or just some takeout from Bread & Roses on the rue Fleurus or La Crèmerie on the rue des Quatre Vents.

      1. re: Parnassien

        Thanks! Duly noted for the next trip!

        If you feel strongly that a picnic must be eaten while sitting on grass, Parc Monceau is a good bet. Though the Champ de Mars also offers that option, and is near the excellent Rue Cler. Very touristy though, obviously.

    2. We usually picnic in our hotel room because it is spacious and has a superb view.

      Given the short time you will be in Paris and the fact that you will be traveling south, you might consider holding your picnic plans for the train. Book the vis-a-vis single seats and you will have a face to face table for your spread.

      What to pack depends on what you like to eat. We normally take several kinds of cheese, a slice of country pate, a baguette, fruit, wine, Badoit, and of course a little chocolate and a small jar of cornichons.

      Think also of the many opportunities for picnicking you will have on the road in the South. We often stop in a vallage when we pass through on market day to pick up marvelous bits and pieces of local products. Just harvested tomatoes, the season's fruit, some kind of local sausage or meat product, cheese.

      13 Replies
      1. re: mangeur

        The train suggestion is good, but we'll be packing pastries. I'll have to remember that for the future trips. Our train leaves really early in the am. Will be in Dijon for lunch!

        1. re: topeater

          I agree that the Parc Monceau and Buttes Chaumont are great and despite some comments about the Canal St Martin, I love the mixture of joggers, poussetters, skaters, bikers, etc. And St Cloud is fun especially because one can then visit the Ceramic's Museum which I went to last week, two weeks ago, whatever, and is really special.
          However we tend to "picnic" only on day trips outside the city, in forests, and chateaux like Vaux-le-Viscount, opposite Giverny and so forth.

          1. re: John Talbott

            From the various threads, do I intuit correctly that the area around Canal St. Martin is better for strolling and bar wandering rather than a full out picnic?

            1. re: VealParmGuy

              It wouldn't be top of my list for a picnic, in my book better for an early evening drink in one of the bars - however worth noting there aren't that many bars to start with. It's a pretty hip/young crowd who probably BYO booze.

              1. re: PhilD

                The Canal Saint Martin is great for munching a pizza from Pink Flamingo ... especially mid-week. But it can get too crowded with backpackers and others for an enjoyable picnic at weekends and in high summer.

                The grounds of the nearby and very historic Hôpital Saint Louis are idyllic but (I think but am not sure) open to the public only on Sunday.

        2. re: mangeur

          Which hotel do you like for your picnics? Always good to know considering the rain!

          1. re: topeater

            Hotel ? Picnic ? I don't have a picnic hotel. Maybe others do.

            1. re: Parigi

              No, I was referring to Mangeur who said he picnics in his hotel.

            2. re: topeater

              I suspect the answer is going to be an expensive one. Most Paris hotel rooms are pretty small, and even a nice bijou place at €250 a night isn't going to give much space, a view or a balcony.

              I read of a lot of people "picnicking" in their hotel rooms in order to savour the market produce etc. To be honest that sounds a bit grim (based on the quality/size of the average hotel room) to me and I would prefer to find so shady spot at lunchtime in one of the many parks, squares or gardens. You can pick up disposable wooden cutlery and paper plates quite easily so it's simply done.

              A couple of other points. Most parks don't let you on the grass, you need to sit on the benches. A few have small sections of grass, some are more open, but in a lot the grass is fenced off. Lots of parks do close in the evening and the gates are locked - so if planning a picnic in the evening make certain the place doesn't have gates. And finally, most people will have wine etc but technically I thinks it's illegal and occasionally the police crack down so discretion is advised.

              1. re: PhilD

                The thing about not being allowed to sit on the grass is no longer true. Most parks and gardens allow it now, apart from when the grass is "en repos".

                They are more strict, however, about consuming booze.

                1. re: vielleanglaise

                  "The thing about not being allowed to sit on the grass is no longer true."
                  Happened overnight it seems and there no longer seem to be guardiens to enforce such even if it did exist.

                  1. re: John Talbott

                    Except in the Jardin des Plantes. Every 5 minutes the lovely park gets this piercing whistle that makes everyone wince. It's the gardien who loves his job blowing his whistle to warn some grass-destroying terrorists a mile away.

              2. re: topeater

                Dear Husband does not allow me to type its name.

            3. More picnic places:

              In addition to the Luxembourg (aka "le Luco") and Monceau parks, the large and hilly Parc des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th is probably the best picnic venue in Paris. Marvelous views. A bit of a trek for most tourists but the #75 bus from, inter alia, Pont Neuf, Hotel de Ville and the rue des Archives/ Marais takes you right there... and you can stop off at the rue Bretagne in the 3rd on the way to gather your picnic fixings from the shops there and from the covered Marché des Enfants Rouges. And two very noteworthy cafés/ bars/ restos in the park itself... Rosa Bonheur and le Pavillon du Lac in case you need a pitstop for cold drinks.

              And Square du Temple in the 3rd... just a short walk from the fab rue de Bretagne market street and the covered Marché des Enfants Rouges. Lovely.

              The quai Bethune ramp down to the river and little park on the tip of the Ile Saint Louis near the Pont Sully... not usually bothered by the street people who can be a bit pesky on the other quais and more touristy riverside picnic places (notably the Pont Neuf end of the Ile de la Cité)... food from the Marché Maubert or Marché Baudoyer depending on which day.

              I would try to aim for a weekday picnic rather than weekend. If sunny and warm, half of Paris will have the same picnic urge as you on Sat and Sun. Then, the pelouse/ lawn of Le Luco will be fully colonized by almost naked folks.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Parnassien

                The Parc des Buttes Chaumont sounds lovely. Thanks for the warning about week-ends.

                1. re: Parnassien

                  "Then, the pelouse/ lawn of Le Luco will be fully colonized by almost naked folks."

                  And that is a bad thing ?! :-)

                  1. re: Maximilien

                    Therefore choose your "right" nake picnic spots well. :)

                    My faves:

                    - Jardin Ann Frank (former Jardin St Aignan).
                    Where to get your picnic food: Excellent Bo Bun from Song Heng on rue Volta. very nice bods. I mean Bo Bon.
                    Downside: Angela's Banh Mi used to be perfect. Now Angela has moved further away in relation to the garden (which makes Square du Temple the Banh Mi picnic spot).

                    - Jardin St Gilles Grand Veneur.
                    Nearby place for picnic food shopping: Marché Richard Lenoir (recommended: roast chicken from the "Gatinois" stand). Or the two Finkelzstajn places on rue des Rosiers.
                    Pros: hidden. No one can find it.
                    Cons: hidden. No one can find it. Plus, one may find a buncha local hounds naked.

                  2. re: Parnassien

                    Thanks! I didn't know that the cozy name for the Luxembourg Gardens was "le Luco". But it Googles.

                    1. re: mangeur

                      Yes Luco.
                      And Bastoche. Sort of old-fashioned affectionate.

                          1. re: Parigi

                            A sociological study could be made on formal vs informal place names, how some are condoned by locals and others scorned . I would guess that it has always been this way everywhere. You are right that they could be confusing or even enigmatic to visitors to the site and to France.

                    2. Well, as there are so many wonderful places and suppliers, and schlepping the goods can be a chore, knowing where you are staying would be a help. We usually picnic fairly close to home. IE this trip we are in the 6th, making Gerard Mulot for provisions and a walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg a snap and a memorable experience.

                      And, I second the picnic on the train suggestion. We will TVG down to Aix early one morning and back from Nice early morning a week plus later with coffee and breakfast in sacks. Train food isn't much.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: hychka

                        This trip we are also in the 6th. I knew Jardin du Luxembourg was close, but also wanted to look at options I don't know about! I'm very familiar with Gerard Mulot as we rented an apartment at the Place des Vosges one rainy winter & had take out several times for dinner as it was so handy after a day out and a large lunch. But, thanks for reminding me I don't want to schlep all over town!

                        1. re: topeater

                          Pont des Arts and Pont Neuf at sunset are nice.

                          1. re: topeater

                            I wouldn't let your allegiance to/ familiarity with Gérard Mulot limit your choices. If in the 6th, Bread & Roses on the rue Fleurus @ rue Madame is a better option and is just 75 metres from the Luxembourg. And at least half a dozen other places in the 6th I'd try before Mulot.

                            1. re: Parnassien

                              Our windows look into Gerard''s convenience so far. But, I'm listening and will check out your suggestions as picnics in weather like today's are my favorite reservations or confirmations of confirmations required. Also, the food is always 3 stars.

                        2. 2 blocks from Bon Marche's Grand Epicerie off of Rue de Sevres is Rue Recamier a pedestrian cul-de-
                          sac which leads to a lovely sunken Square Chaise Recamier.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: UPDoc

                            Wow! Many, many thanks for this jewel, UPDoc. I've never heard of much less seen this park. It is going to the top of our list for next visit.

                            1. re: UPDoc

                              2nd that; far from the madding crowd and street.

                              1. re: UPDoc

                                Is that close to the Hotel Recamier?

                                1. re: topeater

                                  Google Maps makes it a 7-minute walk...

                                  1. re: topeater

                                    7 or 8 blocks west on Rue du Vieux Colombier, crossing Rue Bonaparte and Rennes to Rue de Sevres and continuing for another block and 1/2. La Cigale Recamier known for its souffles is on the Rue Recamier as is Espace Fondation EDF with a free exhibit space.

                                    Be sure to check out Le Centaure a statue in the triangle as you cross Rue du Cherche-Midi. Boulangerie Poilane is at #8. Visit La Cousine de Bar next door for a snack.

                                    1. re: UPDoc

                                      Thanks for the directions. Snack and bar suggestions are always welcomed.

                                      1. re: topeater

                                        La Cousine de Bar serves open faced sandwiches and soup. A good nearby bar is across the street from Le Centaur; Bar de la Croix Rouge, good sandwiches on Poilane bread.

                                      2. re: UPDoc

                                        While not food, at 17 Rue Cherche-Midi, my fave street in Paris is an Il Bisonte leather shop, of which l possess way too much.

                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                          So do I. -- You're such a metrosexual.

                                          1. re: Parigi

                                            l thought l was a lesbian as well due to ankle bracelets.

                                          2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                            Thanks for sneaking this in the conversation.