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10 summer dining ideas

We trawled the capital for the best picnic providers and restaurant terraces...

Toptable
The sun has finally got his hat on, which means one thing: it's time to dine outside. Whether you fancy packing a picnic, or going alfresco in a restaurant, follow this guide

Alfresco dining

Cru

Opening a raw-food restaurant is a gamble, so the owners of Cru bend the rules here and there, offering root vegetable 'chips' and a few plancha dishes. Still, the extensive menu has plenty for the crudivore, such as some unusual carpaccios (the veal with preserved lemon is particularly good) and intriguing 'red' and 'green' plates, variations on the tomato and cucumber. The food is perfectly good, but the real reason to come here is the gorgeous courtyard terrace lurking behind this quiet Marais street.

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The Marais

Le Moulin de la Galette

Montmartre was once peppered with flour-grinding windmills, and this modern restaurant (named after the Moulin de la Galette cabaret of which it was once a part) is set inside one of only two remaining mills – the other being private property just a few doors down on rue Lepic. A more more idyllic setting you will not find, with a sweet little courtyard draped in ivy. The food is contemporary French cuisine, such as pan-fried foie gras with lemongrass and juniper berries, or cochon de lait (suckling pig) with creamy potato purée. The desserts, such as caramelised figs and chocolate fondant, are beautifully presented. If you’re on a budget, opt for the set menus, and choose your wine carefully.

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Montmartre and Pigalle

L'Entrepôt

Off the beaten tourist track, this multidisciplinary arts centre and cinema is known for its leftfield documentaries, shorts, gay repertoire and productions from developing nations.  Regular debates, poetry nights and concerts complete the programme. There's also a restaurant with a coveted garden terrace. Sit here in the summer and you feel blissfully cut off from the rest of Paris.

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14th arrondissement

L'Endroit

There can't be a better spot in the old Batignolles village, with views over neo-classical Ste-Marie-des-Batignolles church, a cool thirtysomething crowd, decent wines, cocktails a go-go and excellent food that won't break the bank (€12 lunchtime menu).

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Champs Élysées and western Paris

Lasserre

Lasserre’s rich history is definitely a part of the dining experience: notables like Audrey Hepburn, André Malraux and Salvador Dali were regulars; it harboured Resistance fighters during the war; and it was while dining with Malraux that Marc Chagall decided to paint the ceiling for the Opera Garnier. But its illustrious past is nothing next to the food: chef Christophe Moret (ex-Plaza Athénée) and his pastry chef Claire Heitzler (ex-Ritz) create lip-smacking delicacies to die for. The upstairs dining room, accessed by a bellboy-operated lift, is a sumptuous affair in taupe and white, with solid silver table decorations, and a retracting roof, which at night opens just enough for you to see the stars.

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8th arrondissement

Les 2 Etangs

The faithful attention to detail of the many owners of this quaint old building throughout the centuries has ensured that many of its original characteristics have been lovingly preserved, and as a result, Les 2 Etangs exudes a sense of wonder right from entering. The food at the restaurant – a gourmet range of fittingly traditional French favourites, with brunch served at weekends – and its gorgeous 20-acre grounds add to the chic, casual ambience further. The highly professional team are noted for their attentiveness, while a crackling open fireplace in the winter and a veranda on which to enjoy a pre-dinner drink in summer seal the deal.  

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Picnic providers

Marché Beauvau (Aligre)

The lowdown: This street market is proudly working class. Stallholders do their utmost to out-shout each other, and price-conscious shoppers don't compromise on quality. The Beauvau covered market is the centrepiece. Its cheese-seller's stand is famed for ripe brie, beaufort and 'beurre aux algues' (salted seaweed butter) by traditional butter-maker Jean-Yves Bordier from Brittany. You can also pick up fine cold meats and patés.

The picnic spot: From here, walk along the Coulée Verte (atop the Viaduc des Arts) to modern Parc de Reuilly, with its fizzy public water fountain.

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Eastern Paris

Marché Monge

The lowdown: This pretty, compact market is set on a leafy square. It has a high proportion of producers and is much less touristy than nearby rue Mouffetard. The breads here are particularly good, and if you don't fancy traditional picnic staples (cheese, paté and wine) you'll find stall hawking spicy Asian nibbles, ready-to-eat Lebenese dishes and Creole curries.

The picnic spot: From here, it's just a few minutes walk to Jardin des Plantes, where you can nab a park bench, or head to the Arènes de Lutèce – a peaceful public garden set in a former Roman arena.

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5th arrondissement

La Grande Epicerie de Paris

The lowdown: This temple of good taste is located on the ground floor of Le Bon Marché, Paris’s oldest department store, where its bakery, patisserie, butcher and cheese shop will all urge you to give in to gourmet temptation. The main advantage of this great grocery is the incredible diversity and exclusivity of its products.

The picnic spot: Posh food requires a chic setting, so find a shaded spot amid the 18th-century fountains of Jardin de Luxembourg. It's great for kids, with swings and pony rides for a post-picnic treat.

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7th arrondissement

Saxe-Breteuil

The lowdown: Saxe-Breteuil has an unrivalled setting facing the Eiffel Tower; it also has the city's most chic produce. Look for farmers' goats' cheese, rare apple varieties, Armenian specialities, abundant oysters and a handful of dedicated small producers.

The picnic spot: When your basket is full, spread your blanket on the Champs de Mars and tuck into your feast under the Eiffel Tower's iron gaze.

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South-west Paris

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