Let’s talk about picnics. I love picnics. And I love Paris. And when I’m in Paris I love to have picnics. It just so happens that Parisians enjoy le pique-nique too. I love seeing the locals sitting on the banks of the Seine, taking in the view with a bottle of wine and some snacks, or picnicking in one of the lovely little parks around this beautiful city.
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Sometimes we’ve even had picnics in the pouring rain, sitting on the floor of our apartment with the ceiling to floor windows open wide and the still staggering views of the city taking our breath away.
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It’s fun to have an impromptu picnic in Paris, and a quick run through Monoprix can have you completely sorted in just a few minutes. You can even rent a bottle and fill it with vin rouge or maybe a rosé for a mere €2.50 if you don’t want to spend €7 on a bottle of wine!
I’m obsessed with these machines and the cool looking bottles! As if I didn’t want to run away to Paris anyway…
I’ve done many last minute Monoprix picnics in Paris over the years, and loved them all, but today I want to tell you about the perfect picnic in Paris.
How To Plan The Perfect Picnic In Paris
In the 7th arrondissement there is a wonderful little food shopping street called Rue Cler. This is not only one of the best market streets in Paris (in my opinion anyway), but it is also an authentic market street, much loved by local Parisians and relatively unknown to the bulk of the 30 million tourists who make their way to the City of Lights each year. Rue Cler is full of specialty food shops and lovely cafés. It is mostly a pedestrian street, freeing you to wander aimlessly from side to side, taking your time to look in any store that takes your eye, when it takes your eye.
If you rent an apartment in the 7th, a daily wander to Rue Cler would be magnifique. I’m actually thinking about renting an apartment in the 7th next time I go, so I’m just projecting my shopping plans on you right now..
Anyway, back to the picnic. I had this particular picnic in mind before leaving home on this trip, so packed a red and white checkered table cloth (clichéd, I know, but it was so worth it!), some paper plates, paper cups (because I couldn’t find my plastic champagne glasses. A touch gauche, but who cares?) and matching napkins, along with a Vera Bradley Havana Rose Market Tote bag that I could put everything in and walk around still looking chic.
We headed over to Rue Cler to buy our picnic provisions, and it was not only fabulous and fun, but it was also such an experience in and of itself. When I travel its always the experience that I am craving. Whether you are shopping on Rue Cler for a dinner party, lunch, or in this case a picnic, make a point of telling each vendor what the event is that you are shopping for. They will help you with pairings, and make everything so much more fun!
The perfect Parisian picnic has to have some charcuterie meats, some cheese, fruit, wine and of course a baguette. I like to start the shopping process with the charcuterie meats.
I went to Charcuterie Jeusselin first and was looking at their outdoor stand at different canapés they had on offer. I told the guy behind the counter I was shopping for a picnic for two, and he threw his hands in the air, canceled everything I had asked for, and said no, it must – absolutely must be a small quiche. It was hilarious! Then he came inside the store and talked to his counterpart, explained that there was a picnic happening and that there needed to be a few slices of cold meat for the picnic. They went back and forth at length deciding what would go best with the quiche, then decided on a few slices of white ham.
The next stop was a couple of doors down at the Fromagerie. I wanted one hard cheese and one soft cheese, told the man behind the counter that it was for a picnic and asked his advice. He wanted to know what I had bought so far, and then both the fellows working in the store dove headfirst into a huge conversation about which 2 cheeses it should be. There was much gesticulating, chin rubbing, deep thought, passing me samples and further discussing the picnic and its cheeses, “because Madam, it must be perfect!”
I saw they had baguettes in the store so asked for one of those as well, at which they threw their four hands in the air and said NON! You must get your baguette from Ronde des Pains down the street on the corner of Rue Champs du Mars. No question – the picnic would be a disaster if I bought the wrong bread!
See what I mean about the experience?? I was having the most fun ever! Our picnic was tiny but the shopping experience was huge.
Quiche, ham and cheeses bought I crossed the street to NYSA Vins et Spiriteux to buy some champagne. I told the lady it was for a picnic, and the whole crazy fabulous routine started over! She looked at everything I had bought so far, was enraptured with the cheese selection, and immediately chose the most perfect champagne to go with it all. It wasn’t the most expensive, nor was it the 4th most expensive, instead she told me about the notes in the champagne that would sing when paired with the items purchased so far. She was absolutely right too!
Next up the flower shop. Why not have some gorgeous roses to go with this affair? At Les Floralies they asked if the roses were for a gift. I said no, they were for a picnic to make it look pretty. Ah! they said. Then your roses must be wrapped just so, to coordinate with your picnic plates and look just right. The picnic must be perfect!
The last two stops were for the baguette and then across the street to Top Halles for some fruit and we were ready to go.
With the perfect picnic purchased, and it wasn’t expensive at all, it was time for Uber to take us to our picnic spot. We could have walked but I had visions of the quiche getting broken, so we caught a ride to the Champs de Mars.
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I absolutely love evening picnics at the base of the Eiffel Tower. You want to sit far enough back that you can take in the entire view, and you want to time it so that you arrive just before the tower lights up. At the top of each hour the sparkling lights go off for 5 or 10 minutes.
So here is the mini picnic that was the source of so much fun:
Every single thing about buying a picnic on Rue Cler and then having your picnic at the Eiffel Tower is just amazing.
We were surrounded by Parisians doing the same thing, although it seemed that most of them just had a bottle of wine and some potato chips.
No one was drunk, no one was badly behaved, everyone was just enjoying the view and the soft, balmy night.
Everywhere we went in Paris women were wearing this Adidas shoe. I bought this pair on Rue des Rosiers in the Marais because I wanted to wander Paris in them too. They are substantially cheaper at home on Zappos.com, so I am ordering a second pair (cream and white) when I get home.
I hope that if you are in Paris you will take the time to at least wander along Rue Cler, and even if it’s just a bottle of wine and some chips, take the time to have yourself a picnic with a view.