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The best picnic spots and food in Paris

Make the most of the summer weather with our guide to the best places to buy picnic food and then gobble it all up in Paris

© Vincent Anderlucci

With a whole host of marvellous green spaces across the capital, it can be hard choosing where to lay down your hamper for a lazy summer picnic. So that’s why we’ve come up with a helpful shortlist of the best spots in Paris to soak up the sunshine while enjoying your food. From the verdant mounds and ponds of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and the Parc Monceau, to the buzzing hodgepodge architecture of the Canal Saint-Martin and of course the Seine, you can be sure of a truly Parisian picnicking experience, in one way or another.

And if you’re bored with the bog-standard baguette and cheese, why not try our run-down of Paris’s best alternative food shops? From Paris Saint Bière’s unusual craft beers to the scrummy biscuits at La Cure Gourmande, you’ll soon find that a Parisian picnic can quite easily end up a rather gourmet affair.

Recommended: The best summer terraces in Paris

Where to buy picnic food in Paris

L'Epicerie Générale

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Feeling that Paris was in urgent need of an organic fine food store, Maud, Claude and Lucio decided to open L’Epicerie Générale in February 2011. Here, environment-conscious gourmands can enjoy cheeses, charcuterie, fruit, vegetables, Hennequin preserves – gourmet and ethical products. Many products also have a social consciousness, like the ‘Miel Béton’ (‘concrete honey’), made on the roofs of Saint Denis by ‘Le Parti Poétique’, which raises awareness about the extinction of bees...

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7th arrondissement

Fédération Française de l'Apéritif

Finally a French Federation (read: shop/bar) dedicated to that most important of post-work rituals, the aperitif. Move beyond the fashionable midnight blue shopfront and tricolore logo and you’ll find a large refrigerated counter filled with cheeses and cured meats from various small producers. On the shelves, meanwhile, there’s a wide range of treats like pâtés from Label Rouge le Fougeray (€4.90), or for the really brave, crunchy insects from Jimini’s...

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10th arrondissement

Paris Saint Bière

Is there a lovelier beer shop in the capital than Paris Saint Bière? If so, the honour surely goes to its sister venue, situated around the corner on Rue de Charonne. Between them, the pair stock an extraordinary range of brews from Belgium, Germany, the UK and France, alongside novelty brands from the likes of Senegal and Jamaica. The owner's catalogue extends to over 2,000 varieties, including some of the world's rarest...

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Charonne

La Crèmerie

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Customers stop into La Crèmerie for the company as much as for the great cheeses. Shop owner Dominique used to be a nurse so is a past master at cheerful chat (and watching calorie counts). French cheeses are her speciality, from a colourful wheel of wildflower Tomme from the Austrian Alps to Black Brie from Île de France, Saint-Félicien from Isère, small goats cheeses coated in cranberries from the Dordogne and many more...

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La Grande Epicerie de Paris

Recommended

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’s and cheese shop will all urge you to give in to gourmet temptation. Prices depend on the age and origin of the product, so you can just as easily enjoy a delicious pistachio macaroon for two euros as bankrupt yourself for a bottle of olive oil. The main advantage of this great grocery is the incredible diversity and exclusivity of its products...

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7th arrondissement

Marché Bastille

Recommended

One of the biggest markets in Paris, the Marché Bastille's food stalls sprawl up the Boulevard Richard Lenoir twice a week, with more produce than most hypermarkets – it's a particularly great source of local cheeses, free range chicken and excellent fish. The atmospheric and beautiful piles of fruit, veg, saucisses, olives and so on are interspersed with stalls offering African batiks, cheap jewellery and bags, but that doesn't detract from the overall sense of bountiful goodness...

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Bastille

La Cave des Papilles

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Located right in the middle of the bustling Rue Daguerre, you can't miss the lemon-yellow frontage of La Cave des Papilles. The owner, a lover of 'natural' wine, has been operating in Paris for 16 years, and of the 1200 wines on offer, 80% are produced organically, while the rest are more traditional. The owner knows each supplier personally, most of them independent French wine growers (Frédéric Cossard in Burgundy, la Maison Pierre Overnoy in the Jura and Jean-Yves Perron in Savoy, to name a few)...

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14th arrondissement

Causses

Causses, SoPi’s (SouthPigalle) new alimentation general extraordinaire, feels like an urban farm shop, offering a winning formula of simple quality, seasonal, produce (fruit ‘n’ veg, hams and cheeses), gourmet preserves and take-away breads, sandwiches and salads.  If you’re into your OJ, there’s a fill your own bottle area next to the orange squeezing machine...

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Montmartre and Pigalle

Marché Mouffetard

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This 'wonderful, narrow crowded market street', as Hemingway described it in 'A Moveable Feast', still sports bright and bustling stalls of fruit and veg in its cobbled lower stretches (its upper extremities largely harbour student bars and touristy shops), its atmospheric buildings making it one of the city’s loveliest street markets. Many grocers – also hawking charcuterie, patés, seafood, cheeses and sticky patisseries – only select organic and fair-trade goods...

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5th arrondissement

La Cure Gourmande

Had Willy Wonka decided to launch a biscuit chain it may well have looked like La Cure Gourmande. There is something irresistibly over-the-top about the shop’s turn-of-the-century-style tins, boxes and baskets, brimming with cookies, bonbons and chocolates. From the moment the vanilla scent hits you, you’re hooked; then the seller suggests you try the biscuit of the day. Before you know you’ve polished off a couple and you’re leaving, guilty grin in tow, with beautifully-packaged boxes of shortbread, gingerbread and dark chocolate truffles...

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12th arrondissement

The best picnic locations in Paris

By the Canal Saint-Martin

Hands up if you’ve seen ‘Amélie’, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 blockbuster. It was the Canal St-Martin’s iron footbridges and tree-shaded quays that formed the backdrop for some of the film’s most atmospheric scenes. Nowadays, this ever-gentrifying, 19th-century waterway draws a trendy crowd to its shabby-chic bars and appetising bistros. But if you’d prefer something even less formal, then the banks of the canal are also ideal for a makeshift picnic meet-up...

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Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges, separating Bastille from the Marais, is the perfect example of how Paris unabashedly mixes residential zones with tourist districts. Here, you're just as likely to meet a well-heeled local popping out for a baguette as you are a coachload of American teenagers. The reason, of course, is that Place des Vosges is pure eye-candy – a 17th-century peach stone beauty that was built for Henri IV...

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Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Recommended

There are plenty of handsomely ordered opportunities to indulge in a bit of park life in Paris, from the pathways of the Jardin des Tuileries to the ponds of the Jardin du Luxembourg. But if you're looking for something a little less formal, one patch of greenery definitely worth a stroll is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Set high up in Belleville and often missed by weekenders keen not to stray too far from the tourist loop, this 19th arrondissement gem is one of the city's most magical spots...

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North-east Paris

Parc André Citroën

This park is a fun, postmodern version of a French formal garden, designed by Gilles Clément and Alain Prévost. It comprises glasshouses, computerised fountains, waterfalls, a wilderness and themed gardens featuring different coloured plants and even sounds. Stepping stones and water jets make it a garden for pleasure as well as philosophy...

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South-west Paris

Parc de la Villette

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Dotted with red pavilions, or folies, the park was designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and is a postmodern feast. The folies serve as glorious giant climbing frames, as well as a first-aid post, burger bar and children's art centre. Kids shoot down a Chinese dragon slide, and an undulating suspended path follows the Canal de l'Ourcq. As well as the lawns, which are used for an open-air film festival in summer, there are ten themed gardens bearing evocative names such as the Garden of Mirrors, of Mists, of Acrobatics and of Childhood Frights...

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North-east Paris
By The Seine

By The Seine

Running through the centre of Paris, the Seine offers all sorts of wonderful spots for a picnic. The Square du Vert-Galant on the Île de la Cité offers an alternative to the picnic-saturated Tuileries gardens. But of course, there’s always the quais of the river itself, or for those who want to make the most out of the (short-lived) summer months, then you should head straight down to the Paris Plages...

Bois de Boulogne

Recommended

Covering 865 hectares, the Bois was once the Forêt de Rouvray hunting grounds. It was landscaped in the 1860s, when artificial grottoes and waterfalls were created around the Lac Inférieur. The Jardin de Bagatelle is famous for its roses, daffodils and water lilies, and contains an orangery that rings to the sound of Chopin in summer.The Jardin d'Acclimatation is a children's amusement park, with a miniature train, farm, rollercoaster and boat rides...

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West of the centre

Parc Monceau

Surrounded by grand hôtels particuliers and elegant Haussmannian apartments, Monceau is a favourite with well-dressed children and their nannies. It was laid out in the 18th century for the Duc de Chartres in the English style, with a lake, lawns and a variety of follies: an Egyptian pyramid, a Corinthian colonnade, Venetian bridge and sarcophagi...

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Champs Élysées and western Paris

Parc de Belleville

Up the slopes of the Hauts de Belleville, there are views over the city from rue Piat and rue des Envierge, but as far as panoramas go, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better skyscape than the one rolling below the Parc de Belleville.  This modern but charming common, was created in 1988 to bring a stretch of greenery to the park-deprived 20th, and from its slopes you can see as far as the Eiffel Tower in the west...

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20th arrondissement

Jardin des Plantes

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The Paris botanical garden - which contains more than 10,000 species and includes tropical greenhouses and rose, winter and Alpine gardens - is an enchanting place. Begun by Louis XIII's doctor as the royal medicinal plant garden in 1626, it opened to the public in 1640. The formal garden, which runs between two dead-straight avenues of trees parallel to rue Buffon, is like something out of Alice in Wonderland...

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5th arrondissement

Comments

4 comments
Nicolas Hecht
Nicolas Hecht moderator

There are some here in my favs ! But I would also add on the South Bank : Jardin du Luxembourg and parc Montsouris, quiet and enjoyable places in summer. There you can see people run, read, talk, doing tai-chi, playing tennis, and just rest from the city heartbeat.

Clotilde G
Clotilde G

And don't forget to put your blanket on the grass of Parc Georges Brassens, in the 15th borough. Tiny, calm and full of beautiful shaded areas under the trees, this place is still pretty secret for not being overcrowded from the first sunlights. During your wandering in the park, you can even fall on beehives, vineyards and, facing the old hall to horses, an old and atypic belfry with a huge fountain !

Chloé L
Chloé L

You can also check out the Italian's coop that will serve the best burrata's in Paris ! you can find them at Marché St Quentin, but also on Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière and Rue St Maur ! 

Huw O
Huw O

The Marché d'Aligre is the ideal spot for picking up a baguette or some fruit. I say take it to the parc de Bercy. Not all that far, and plenty of space to lay down a picnic blanket!