Summer is THE picnic season. Although some lawns are not always accessible to the public, many parks and gardens gladly welcome picnickers. Here is a little selection of places where you can spread out a picnic cloth and open your picnic basket, without any qualms.
For some top places, firstly head to the centre of the capital. Go back in time at the gallant Square Louis-XIII. Seated at the foot of the equestrian statue of this French king, you are in the heart of the Place des Vosges, one of the oldest and most beautiful squares in Paris.
For a royal picnic, meet up in the Jardin des Tuileries. Designed by André Le Nôtre, the Tuileries gardens are a fine example of elegant French design, with symmetrical paths in gravel and beautiful pruned rows of trees. The big lawns are ideal for picnicking and offer fine views of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay and the Champs-Élysées.
If like panoramic views, don’t miss the Jardin du Champ-de-Mars, below the Eiffel Tower. As well as being one of the biggest green areas in Paris, it offers lovely vistas of several major attractions: the Eiffel Tower, of course, but also Trocadéro and the Ecole militaire.
A favourite place of lovebirds, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont provides a romantic setting for a picnic, with a waterfall, grotto, look-out point, and ancient trees …
And lastly, to picnic in a thoroughly natural setting without leaving the city, there is nowhere better than the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne!
The best spots for a picnic in Paris
Paris has numerous green areas that are little havens of peace, well worth a visit.
The Marais district for example comprises several ‘secret’ gardens, like the Jardin des Rosiers Joseph-Migneret (formerly Francs-Bourgeois Rosiers), tucked away behind the Hôtel de Coulanges, or the Jardin Anne-Frank, at the end of Impasse Berthaud or the tranquil Jardin des Arts - Albert Schweitzer with a view of the Flamboyant Gothic façade of the Hôtel de Sens.
In the south of Paris is the Parc Montsouris, one of the richest in terms of flora and fauna. It offers delightful spots for a quiet picnic on the big lawned areas, by the pond or in the shade of the weeping willow trees. A few steps away, the Parc de la Cité universitaire is a well-preserved 30-hectare natural setting that is an ideal place to relax. The garden campus provides a world tour with a guided visit with L/OBLIQUE of the many foreign pavilions including the United States, Italy, Morocco, Japan …
To have Paris at your feet, head to the Parc de Belleville, a pretty garden on the heights of the city, with gentle slopes and tranquil places to unwind.
The Parc André-Citroën is a refreshing spot with its expansive lawned areas and numerous fountains. Perfect in summer! If it is comfort that you are looking for, the Jardin d’Éole has designated picnic areas with big tables for numerous guests. Finally, at the Parc de La Villette you are guaranteed plenty of space.
And to make the most of the Seine and the monuments lining the river, you will always find a perfect spot, either on the left bank or on the right bank along the 10-hectare promenade of the Parc Rives de Seine.
Picnic baskets prepared by the best delis of Paris
To make life simpler, some shops and caterers provide ready-packed picnic baskets … Remember to order in advance to ensure that you are delivered in time.
The Hotel Molitor, MGallery Hotel Collection, a luxurious establishment in the 16th arrondissement has three picnic baskets to choose from: Love Molitor, Miam or Vegetarian. They include an assortment of treats. The double Michelin-starred restaurant Le Clarence invites foodies to test its ‘La Cantine’ take-away picnic basket.
As for the Épicerie générale, it has designed several original baskets, all attractive and organic. An embroidered picnic cloth (refundable, as well as the basket), disposable cutlery, paper serviettes, a small candle … as well as a large selection of outdoor games to hire.
If you would like to be served on a tray, Lenôtre offers several choices of ‘Coffret by Lenôtre’, designed by chefs, with a starter, main course, dessert, bread rolls, cutlery and a serviette. Very practical in an attractive easy to carry box. Fauchon also offers delicious gourmet picnic baskets to be eaten cold, to put together yourself.
Finally, for a picnic with oriental flavours, order a picnic basket from Liza, a not-to-miss Lebanese restaurant in Paris. Chef Stéphanie Le Quellec, who opened her restaurant La Scène in 2019 in the 8th arrondissement also offers delicious and gourmet cold food in a basket to reheat.
See all our addresses for delis and Parisian caterers in our special article Fine food shops and caterers
The gardens and places to picnic in Paris
Paris 8th - Metro Monceau
Parc de Bercy
Paris 12th - Metro Bercy
Paris 15th - Metro Montparnasse-Bienvenüe
Jardin Catherine Labouré
Paris 7th - Metro Sèvres - Babylone
Paris 15th – Metro Convention
Bassin de la Villette
Quais de la Loire, de la Seine, de l’Oise et de la Marne
Paris 19th – Metro Stalingrad