The Parisian press is trumpeting that summer has begun (I wish I shared their optimism) and exhorting citizens to get out and about to enjoy les beaux jours. Even in the heart of the city there are plenty of places to picnic and chill out, though it’s worth remembering that fires or barbeques of any sort are forbidden, as is consumption of alcohol in public places.
Here’s a quick rundown of some city-centre green spaces where you can kick back and enjoy an alfresco summer picnic.
The Champ de Mars (where Napoleon put his army through its marching paces) has the splendid backdrop of the Eiffel Tower for a picnic with a view. It won’t be terribly intimate given the visitor numbers, but does have a certain appeal. 2 allée Adrienne Lecouvreur, 7th arrt. Métro: Ecole Militaire
A less busy spot can be found on the lawns of Avenue de Breteuil, also in the 7th. Métro: Saint-Francois Xavier or Duroc
The Arenes de Lutece is best known for its ancient amphitheatre, but there’s a gorgeous garden with plenty of trees for shade as well as flower beds and shrubs. 4 rue des Arenas, 5th. arrt Métro: Jussieu.
I love the quiet grace of the Place des Vosges, with its cool, shaded colonnades of shops and cafes. In the middle is a lawned area, perfect for a picnic. With ‘Falafel Alley’ – the rue des Rosiers — just around the corner with lots of take out food options, it’s a great spot for an impromptu picnic. 3rd arrt. Métro: Chemin Vert or Bastille
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a 60-acre belt of green space on the Left Bank. With a children’s playground, ornate fountain, open air cafe and bandstand, it’s a great place to linger. 6th arrt. Métro: Notre Dame des Champs
And finally, the Jardin des Plantes is an historical botanic garden where you can stretch out on the lawns or stroll among tree-lined avenues and exotic gardens. 57 rue Cuvier, 5th arrt. Métro: St Marcel or Jussieu