Never mind that it’s been an unpredictable summer with dipping temperatures and rain when we least expect it – but what’s a Parisian summer without picnics? While we can't predict the weather, we can guarantee your picnic basket is perfectly packed. We’ve put together 10 tips to help you picnic the French way!
1. Gather some girlfriends
We have to admit this might be hard – but not impossible – especially in the summer when everyone’s going away for vacation. You are not organising a housewarming party for 20, in fact it’s perfect with just a handful of girlfriends. It’s more intimate and you get to drink more wine. What’s there to complain about?
2. Pick a sunny day
It’s actually easier said than done this year. I’ve had to postpone a couple of picnics on short notice (not cool) and even have had to seek refuge in a sheltered area midway through a picnic once (not fun either). For summers like this, the best thing to do is probably to not organise picnics too far in advance – one week sounds about right – and to keep checking the weather forecasts just in case.
3. Location, location!
While the Seine and the Champ de Mars remain a perennial favorite among tourists and locals alike, there’s no lack of charming locales in the City of Light. The Jardin du Luxembourg and the Place des Vosges are both central and very French although they are also definitely the kind of places where you have to get to early to snag a spot on sunny days. To win some street cred among hipster Parisians, try the Canal Saint-Martin, the Bassin de la Villette or the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.
4. Wear a cute dress
No one says you have to dress up for a picnic, but hey which girl can pass up an excuse to put on a cute dress? We’d say go for it but don’t try too hard. Remember you are in Paris after all, where girls look effortlessly chic. Just make sure it’s comfortable (and long) enough for you to sit on the ground with without worrying about a wardrobe malfunction. Also don’t forget to pack a cardigan or a lightweight sweater for when it gets chilly after the sun sets.
5. Accessorise with sunglasses and hats
Well, it’s technically not just accessorising if they serve the all-important purpose of keeping the sun out, right? And while you are at it, a bit of sunscreen doesn’t hurt either.
6. Bring enough to eat and drink
The usual suspects: A couple baguettes, copious wine, some cheeses and charcuterie – anything that’s easy to eat with your fingers. Throw in some strawberries, radishes and cherry tomatoes to nibble on if potato chips are too much of a guilty pleasure. Or do what I usually do with my girlfriends and ask each person to bring something to share. It hasn’t gone wrong so far where we end up with baguettes and no wine (phew!).
7. Don’t forget the boring but important things
Or the picnic might have just become a foodie’s nightmare with food and drinks but nothing to serve them on! Supermarkets are your best bet for paper napkins, disposable plates and plastic cups but Bonton on boulevard des Filles du Calvaire (5 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75003 Paris) also stocks a cute array of printed paper napkins, paper cups and plates. If you are feeling fancy, why not take it up a notch with plastic stemware as well?
8.Have a picnic blanket on hand
Grass stains are a hassle to remove and pavements aren’t exactly comfortable to sit on. Besides, picnic blankets help mark your territory on particularly crowded days and are easy for girlfriends who turn up late to spot.
9. Pack a corkscrew and an Opinel pocketknife
You can’t get any more French if you have these two items in your purse on a picnic day. The corkscrew is pretty self-explanatory and the Opinel, a must for every self-respecting Francophile, comes in handy for slicing the saucisson and cutting the cheeses.
10. Flowers, because why not?
Not a must but we know how they will brighten up the pictures you will be sending out on social media. Plus it’s a nice touch if everyone has some flowers to bring home after the picnic.
Pro-tip: Wrap some wet tissue paper around the cut stems so the flowers don’t wilt before the end of the day.
If you are especially lazy, or simply don’t have time to prepare the picnic yourself, there’s always the picnic delivery service Paris Picnic. Their picnics include everything you need to properly enjoy a chic pique-nique including market-fresh salads, fruit, cheeses, French wines, a picnic blanket, and all the utensils you need to enjoy the afternoon.
Pictures: Brandie Raasch, Writer: Wee Ling Soh