Elements to a Parisian Picnic
Something about laying out a table cloth and noshing while your backside gets a little wet from the dewy grass screams summer to me. One of my number one to-do’s while here was to have the perfect picnic near the Eiffel Tower. And I’m so happy I can cross this one off the list!
I wish all lunches were picnics. The act of planning a peaceful, relaxing meal outdoors, gathering ingredients, remembering the tablecloth and spotting the perfect, shaded (and hopefully dry) location feels intentional and life affirming. Picnic-ing, quite like travel, doesn’t just happen. It takes effort. And maybe that’s why they feel so special.
Here are the elements required to a perfect Parisian picnic. Yay alliteration!
1. A Warm, Crusty Baguette: So crucial to the French diet, a baguette from a local pastry shop is the most important ingredient. Grab it on your way to your chosen location and feel oh-so Parisian while carting it around like a newborn baby in your arms. Am I the only one who feels like this when toting one around?!
2. A Varied Cheese Plate: Lucky for us, and most Parisians, fromageries (or cheese shops) are practically on every street corner. Pick up the most varied plate you can find. Ours included goat, sheep, and cow’s milk cheeses, as well as bleu and cheddar for a steal.
If you can’t find an actual preset plate of cheeses, I recommend picking up at least three varied options of flavors and textures. One gooey, creamy cow’s milk cheese, like Brie or Camembert. Another soft, stinky, ripened bleu cheese, like Bleu d’Auvergne or St. Agur. And my favorite, a pressed, mild, sweet Compte. This French loooove their cheeses, so don’t be afraid to ask your cheese-monger for their recommendations. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. P.S. Can you tell I love cheese? Shout out to Troeg’s Brewery & Tasting Room’s chefs Christian and Jordan for schooling this gal on cheese knowledge!
3. Multiple, Yummy Spreads: There’s something really wonderful about creating a unique taste for each bite. A seedy, zingy mustard and a sweet and savory apricot jam were the perfect spreads for our line up. Another recommendation, a sweet, syrupy honey.
Funny story, after eating primarily pasta and tomatoes for over a month and a half, Luke and I decided to grab what we thought was going to be a pretty horrible sandwich at the Paris airport. Little did we know our mouths were going to be enlightened by the power of mustard. I think our eyeballs grew to be the size of golf balls. Sweet, sweet mustard, how we’ve missed you!
4. Seasonal Fruits: Apples, grapes, raspberries, blueberries… whatever is fresh!
5. An Addition or Two: Pickles in our case. I’d also recommend a handful of almonds or walnuts or dried fruits.
6. Sweets: Because, yes.
7. Wine: Listen. It’s just important. Here, drinking in public is smiled upon and you shouldn’t be someone who doesn’t take advantage of it.
8. A Pretty Little Tablecloth, Utensils And Wine Opener: So easy to forget and so important! Nobody wants ants crawling up their just gathered ingredients or having to cut your cute little cheeses with your grubby fingers. Find a pretty little tablecloth, or an unused sheet or towel and set your scene. Cue Instagram shot.
9. Books, Watercolor Set, Or Any Other Relaxing Activities: Do it! In this case, I brought my camera (duh) and a water coloring set, and Luke brought his early addition Sartre novel and his pipe. After nomming your face off and having a happy tummy, taking the time to enjoy the weather and the rare opportunity to just relax in a beautiful place is key!
10. A Breezy, Shady Spot: By a lake or an open field, find a spot that begs you to occupy it. For those of you about to embark on your Parisian adventure of a lifetime, here are my recommendations for picnic-ing spots:
Champ de Mars: Perfectly situated by the Eiffel Tower.
Musée Rodin: Not many people know that is allowed, so take advantage my friends! The gardens around the museum are perfect for those who want peaceful interaction with nature and some outstanding works of art.
Sacré-Cœur: Sitting at the highest point of the city with views of Paris that might make you forget to eat. Trekking up the hill may be difficult for whoever is carrying your load of goodies, so take the funicular up and save yourself some sweat. Afterwards, mosey into the Roman Catholic church and feast your eyes.
Along The Seine: I had no idea how cool the riverside of Paris would be. Don’t know where to park your booties? Well, you really can’t go wrong between the Sully & Austerlitz bridges, (where tango lessons are given at night) and around the Pont des Arts area (where afterward you can love lock with your honey). Sounds like a good time right?!
If you find yourself thinking, “Yeah that sounds great, but I’m home”… fear not. The act of picnic-ing isn’t about the ingredients or the perfect location; it’s about the process. Gather what you can or what your appetite is asking for and go enjoy the outside. Don’t have a wide range of cheeses to choose from? Pick up your one favorite cheeses from the grocery store, even if it’s Babybel. Don’t have the time to pick up wine? Grab a lemonade or that old six pack you have in the garage. Not living in a picturesque area? Wrong. You are! Just appreciate your surroundings, even if it’s on the far side of your backyard.
Now I’m really hungry for cheese. Time to go remedy that…