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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...it's convenience so far. But, I'm listening and will check out your suggestions as picnics in weather like today's are my favorite ...no 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.

                                    2. Just because they have not been mentioned, the Place de la Square Dauphine with no grass, used in a zillion movies with old style lovely benches and true atmosphere other than the three restaurants in the Place and almost across the street the is Square de Vert Gallant, this one has grass.
                                      They are both on Il Cite, on opposite sides of Le Pont Neuf.
                                      Provisions of wine, cheese, breads/patisserie, etc can be gathered at the nearby Rue de Buci shops.

                                      1. Footnote: Proximity to parks improves mental health (Ref: Sturm & Cohen, JMHPE 17:19, 2014)

                                        1. The Bois de Vincennes is a lovely place to picnic and the Parc Floral there is worth the visit picnic or no picnic.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jock

                                            True and the pictures of the reopened Zoo look fabulous. Have to get the little kids over to have an excuse to see it.

                                          2. And speaking of the previously unmentioned, the Arènes de Lutèce off the rue Monge.... remnants of a 2,000-yr old Roman amphitheatre... you can set up your picnic on the terrace seats where some guy named Flavius once sat his arse to watch Plautus comedies... food from the Marché Monge on Wed, Fri, Sun mornings in the nearby Place Monge (5-min walk to the Arènes) or Marché Maubert on Tue, Thu & Sat mornings on the place Maubert (10-min walk or 2-min bus ride from even-number side of rue Monge @ bd Saint-Germain)... from St Germain des Prés, buses are also the best option to get you to the 5th (#63, 86 and 87 from odd-number side of boulevard Saint-Germain @ métro St G des P to Maubert-Mutualité or the very scenic #89 from odd-number side of rue de Vaugirard @ Musée de Luxembourg to Panthéon or Cardinal Lemoine).

                                            Topeater, can you help us out ? You want a picnic where you can spread out on the ground or a bench where you can eat your takeaway ?

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: Parnassien

                                              Spread out on the ground. Sitting on a bench reminds me of lunch breaks from work.

                                              1. re: topeater

                                                Relationship envy. Dear husband will not sit and eat on the ground. He will stroll or drive on until a table materializes.

                                                Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe sounds very romantic in concept but rough around the edges in practice. In Paris, we will consume banh mi or sandwiches on a bench in a pretty setting. But for a lunch that involves wrapped and containered foods, we are table people. In the country we find picnic areas with tables easy to find.

                                                I need to ask ground picnickers, what do you sit on? And spread your feast on? Do you bring a tablecloth, have a dedicated blanket, steal a sheet from the hotel or apartment? How do you manage an open bottles and wineglasses on uneven ground?

                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                  The picnic spots I mentioned have benches, for mandarins like DCM. We peasants sprawl on several pareos that I bring for the occasion. The grounds on those gardens I mention do not have jagged rocks. Bottles and wines balance without problem next to the rose bushes.

                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                    Christ, next you will call me 'venerable'

                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                        I just sprayed a mouthful of Fenghuang Dancong on my computer

                                                      2. re: Parigi

                                                        Note to self: travel with pareos.

                                                      3. re: mangeur

                                                        we travel with Go Vino polymeric glasses. No fear of breakage in a tote bag..http://www.wine.com/v6/govino-Go-Anyw...

                                                        1. re: UPDoc

                                                          Duralex tumblers work just as well.

                                                        2. re: mangeur

                                                          We drink from the bottle. But we are generally bench/chair picnickers.

                                                    1. If you have kids, there's a tiny "square" that goes off the grenier st lazarre in the grounds of the old clap hospital (nor to be confused with the bigger neighbouring park which is fille with louche characters).There's very little grasse, but it'a clean and quiet - I often have it to myself - and it has wooden pigs. You can get supplies from the nearby marché st quentin or rue du faubourg st denis.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: vielleanglaise

                                                        Vieille, something doesn't add up here...Grenier Saint Lazare ? It's in the 3rd near the Pompidou/ Quartier de l'Horloge. "Supplies from nearby Marché Saint Quentin" ? So somewhere in the 9th or 10th and not the 3rd ? Maybe you mean the Maison de l'Architecture (which used to be a TB hospital) on the rue du Faubourg Saint Martin and next to the Jardin Villemin ?

                                                        1. re: Parnassien

                                                          You are completely right! It's Cour de la Ferme St Lazare. I will now go and commit hari kiri.

                                                        2. re: vielleanglaise

                                                          O shit, I thought it was my private spot. (And Parn is of course right.)

                                                        3. An insolite place to pick up a picnic is tiny and special Epicerie L'Oliver Pitou at 23, rue de Sts. Peres. We especially like their salads, not inexpensive but better seasoned than most places. Almost full service "deli" including hot rotis chickens. Convenient if you want to find a bench along the Seine for un picnic les pieds dans l'eau.


                                                          1. I'd like to hear more about the rules against taking wine or beer to picnics (with food) in Paris. Is it specific parks?

                                                            In Québec we are allowed to take wine or beer, as long as there is food - and obviously. rules against public rowdiness apply.

                                                            Are there any likely spots with picnic tables? Thinking of those with some kind of limited ability (no, not limited by overindulgence!!!!).

                                                            3 Replies
                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                Thanks. The youngest of our group are well over 40, and it is a matter of a picnic with some wine, not a wild rave (there were some infamous "apéros" that turned into binges in Paris in recent years).

                                                                Odd, I've often picnicked with some pinard at Buttes-Chaumont, as I have several friends who live near there, and I've stayed in that area. The police never said anything.

                                                              2. re: lagatta

                                                                Re picnic tables, etc, there are some tables in the Jardin des Plantes, especially in the zoo area but I've never seen any empty and always lots of kids. Not so far mentioned as a picnic venue, the Jardin du Port de l'Arsenal (easiest entrance to find: boulevard de la Bastille @ rue de Lyon) between the Bastille and the river has lounge chairs for rent.

                                                                Re booze, enforcement of the ban (nicely explained by Phil's link) is hardly uniform. It's rigourously enforced in the Champ de Mars (I wonder if the fines are "sur-le-champ"/ on the spot... but that is just BTW for other French speakers) and the Luxembourg but less so in the much larger and less patrolled Buttes Chaumont.

                                                              3. Your mid-June visit to Paris inspires another suggestion. All those ordinary picnics in Paris can't compare to ones in Chantilly (24 minutes by train from Paris) during race season, especially the Prix de Diane on 15 June. I do hope Parigi posts a pic of the hat she intends to wear... the approvals committee (i.e. moi) is waiting.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                                  Yes they can, if one is in a congenial group of friends! One of the nicest Parisian picnics I ever had was in the far from elegant Parc de la Villette. Good company, good food, good illicit wine, and a good time was had by all. I'd never feel in my element at Chantilly.

                                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                                    Lag, I have several tribal allegiances and so I easily slide in and out of different elements. But yes, the Prix de Diane and Chantilly are not one-size-fits-all experiences.

                                                                    1. re: Parnassien

                                                                      Prix de Diane - falling on June 15 - is great picnic venu. I made a little win, and spent it all on treating 2 little girls to ice cream. Yes, my win was pathetically modest. Yes, the ice cream was expensive.
                                                                      Another great June picnic venue is the fantastic manouche jazz guitar festival in Samois outside Fontainebleau (if you don't have a car, you can take the train to Fontainebleau and shuttle to the festival which takes place on an islet, which means the tall treas and the surrounding produce ace accoustics). Very low-key chic, with everyone wearing panamas, with one hand holding a merguez and the other hand holding a coupe fo champagne. 25-29 June.

                                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                                        I work at very formal, establishment situations from time to time - even have to dress up a bit, although we are behind the scenes. I understand completely.

                                                                        But I wouldn't do that sort of event for fun.

                                                                    2. re: Parnassien

                                                                      Thanks for the option, but we only have 4 days in Paris before heading to Provence. It will be difficult enough to leave after just 4 days.

                                                                    3. Today at my granddaughter's insistence we marched to La Vallee' Suisse, corner of Avenue FDR and Cours La Reine NE corner. You can be fooled as there is a square, but also two inviting paths that bring you to a wonderful place with a pool and small falls. We understand the place to be the inspiration for "The Secret Garden."

                                                                      1. Parnassien's suggestion of Chantilly jogged my memory of a nice picnics in the Fontainebleau and Compiègne forests, easier with a car than RER/SNCF.

                                                                        1. Today we had a lovely stroll and picnic of fresh fruits,sparkling water and good red wine from a nearby market in Parc des Buttes Chaumont...a wonderful place albeit somewhat difficult to get to.

                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                          1. re: hychka

                                                                            Ah, you know how to live, hycha !

                                                                            For others, it's usually easier to get to by bus (i.e. no-change #75 from Pont Neuf, Chatelet, Hotel de Ville, etc) than métro.

                                                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                Bus 26. Practically door to door for me.

                                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                                  Parigi, I'm VERY familiar with that busline. Usually boarded at Gare du Nord, arriving from the airport. Several friends throughout the 19th and 20th. I stayed for a month above the line, think it was between L'Ermitage and Pyrénnées-Ménilmontant...

                                                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                                                    Yeah ! I take it in the 9th where I am, in front of Notre Dame de Lorette church, to pick up friends arriving on the Eurostar, or to the Butte Chaumont, or to the great bars around Pyrénées.

                                                                                    1. re: Parigi

                                                                                      Parigi, you Lorettes (wink wink) have it so easy.

                                                                                      But have a heart for bad-knees hycha if he took the métro from St Germain des Prés... 2 or 3 line changes and all those stairs up and down, up and down... and hardly seeing anything of Paris on the way... then probably deposited on the downslope side of Les Buttes Chaumont for a climb up, up, up.

                                                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                        We took the Metro from Opera to Place de Fetes and walked down hill to the Parc and down to the bottom and the pond and rock formations. I am getting very tired of the Metro. But, my story is about the Parc and picnicking on a beautiful day after rains in the morning. Picture is from the top. Food in the little cafe at the bottom near the suspension bridge looked very good, but we had our apples and tangerines.

                                                                                        1. re: hychka

                                                                                          Load the RATP app onto your phone and it makes bus travel simple

                                                                                            1. re: hychka

                                                                                              A warning for/to old folks though; the RATP estimates of time do not factor in walking to the start point and from the end point to your resto nor the traffic jams, markets (today Wagram was a parking lot), double parked trucks in bus-taxi-bcycle lanes, etc. I usually add 15-30 minutes to RATP's estimate.

                                                                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                We usually allow an hour to cross town by bus in peak hours from, say, the Louvre area to the 19th, 20th and further reaches of the 10th. Breakdown = allow 15 minutes for bus to come and 45 minutes for bouchons. Works rather well with the rare exception of needing to stroll the neighborhood to kill time when traffic is light.

                                                                                                After a while you learn the buses that are problematic and require extra time allowances. The 75 is notorious for skipping runs, and the 76 can be iffy.

                                                                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                  "We usually allow an hour to cross town by bus"
                                                                                                  This is a fine rule.
                                                                                                  Today going on the PC and #73 I made it from my flat in the glamourous 18th to the Bistrot Quai near the Pont de Neuilly in 60 minutes exactly.

                                                                                                2. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                  Yes, you have to give yourself a lot of leeway if travelling by bus. However, it is by far the best way to travel for someone with slight mobility problems, such as bad knees or trouble climbing stairs. And there are beautiful views.

                                                                                                  Better still is the tram, but it only goes part way around Paris. http://www.tramway.paris.fr/carte-int... I'm more familiar with the trams in Amsterdam, which are very accessible.

                                                                                        2. re: Parigi

                                                                                          Hi Parigi,

                                                                                          I'm inbound June 18-26. What are the great bars around Pyrenees? I'm staying in the 11th and am devoted to learning more about the E side of Paris. I've read that Rue des Envierges and Parc de Belleville offer great views and that is near Pyrenees. Likely a daytime stroll, so not too much food or wine, but still, let me know some faves if you please could.

                                                                                      2. re: Parigi

                                                                                        Took the 84 from Parc Monceau to St Sulpice this afternoon and liked it better than the Metro ride over by far. Lots of folks munching on sandwiches or bread and cheese there today.

                                                                                  2. We are planning a picnic in Bois de Boulogne and looking at details via Google Earth reminded me of a story I believe I recall being told on this board about a couple re telling a story from their youth about being treated to a very fancy dinner in the park by an ancient resistance leader. Can't find the story by speed reading old Chowhound threads under Bois de Boulogne. Am I imagining things? Might have been five to eight years ago. Any memory of this story? Just curious.

                                                                                    1. Paris by Mouth just posted a list of parks & provisioners for picnicking: http://parisbymouth.com/best-picnic-p.... I don't think their list is nearly as imaginative or interesting as the suggestions here (note that nearly all the photos include big crowds), but the lists of where to pick up supplies might be helpful.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: TVHilton

                                                                                        My faves remain Oteiza and L. Dubois, with bread and wine.

                                                                                      2. Lovely place in the 18th...