When summer arrives Paris changes, for the better. Whether its Monday, Wednesday or Saturday afternoon, crowds spill out onto street drinking Rosé, smiling uncharacteristically as the last of the sunshine settles into a pink Parisian dusk.
With the absence of a beach, the conversation inevitably turns to where one can sunbathe, and as this is France, where one can do so whilst eating and drinking the afore mentioned Rosé.
Upper torso nudity becomes commonplace in central Parisian parks, the banks of various canals and the overpopulated lawns of Champ du Mars. But there are many more interesting places to enjoy the sunshine than the Tour Eiffel, Luxembourg or the Tuileries – particularly when you are expressly forbidden from sitting on the grass, and chased around by dedicated ‘park police’.
Leave Paris Plage for the tourists and take our advice when it comes to the perfect places to picnic in Paris.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont, 75019
One of the biggest parks inside of Paris, this sprawling address commands a sizeable lake and quintessential rooftop views. Its lawns fill up quickly on sunny days but its size guarantees a spot for everyone. Picnic wise it has the added advantage of Rosa Bonheur, a café/bar and beer garden which sells various charcuterie, terrine and rillettes for takeaway.
Jardin Villemin, 75010
Sitting pretty next to the Canal Saint Martin is a petite little park and gazebo, with some breeze off the water to soothe the effects of the blaring sunshine. A more intimate venue than the big parks but with the added value of being close to Le Verre Volé for decent takeaway wine, and a stones throw from places like Tuck Shop or Ten Belles should you wish someone else to cater your picnic.
Bois de Vincennes
The Bois de Vincennes is Paris’s largest public park, spanning almost 2500 acres. At the western end of the park sits Lac Daumesnil, where one can rent row-boats and set sail to explore the central islands. It is close to relatively nothing and has less than its fair share of public toilets, but is conducive to a game of cricket or other anglophone ball sports given its size.
Pont Neuf, 75001
Pont Neuf is effectively just a bridge, but at its eastern point it houses a tiny little park, perfect for taking in the sunshine in the deadset centre of Paris. Real estate is at a premium so plan ahead and get there early, and again there is a distinct lack of public toilets. But with a view down the river Seine to the Louvre, with boats floating by and the breeze rustling the trees, it can be a really special spot.
Jardin du Palais Royal, 75001
Jardin du Palais Royal is quite literally an oasis in Paris. When you pass through its gates, the neighbouring chaos that is Opéra and Musee de Louvre dissipates, as the sun lines the long interior courtyard of manicured trees and gated gardens. It is the perfect spot for a game of Pétanque, with its long gravel alleyways
Parc de la Villette, 75019
The Parc de la Villette still remains one of Paris’ better kept secrets. A vast expanse of greenery and trees on the northeastern edge of the 19th arrondissement. All signs of its previous life as an abattoir have been replaced by themed gardens, museums, music halls and cultural centres quite modern for Paris. In summer take a picnic to the open air cinema, or simply lounge by the far less populated stretch of the Canal Saint Martin.