Paris is filled with gardens and parks with luscious green lawns that simply beg for you to flop down on them with a blanket, baguette, cheese and a good bottle of wine.
But more often than not, just as you begin to approach that tempting emerald expanse, you’ll see a sign stating: “Pelouse interdite.” In other words: “no sitting on the grass.” You’ll see this sign so often; you might start to wonder if Parisians have something against picnics. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Parisians are huge fan of picnics – they just don’t necessarily have them on the grass. Parisian picnics can take place almost anywhere: park benches, bridges, the stone banks of the Seine. And, if you’re desperate to find a nice grassy lawn on which you can sit down and have a nibble, don’t fret – you can find that too.
Best Places to Picnic on the Grass
1. Parc Monceau.
This stunning park, created in the 18th century by the Duke of Orleans, is the perfect place for a traditional flop-down-on-grass picnic. Here, you’ll find it all: beautiful flower beds, a romantic duck pond, elegant white stone statues – even a little waterfall and grotto. It’s a great spot to picnic with children as there is also a well-equipped playground and pony rides available. (8th and 17th arrondissements, Metro: Monceau (line 2)).
Top Paris Hotel near Parc Monceau: Hotel Elysees Parc Monceau
2. Champ de Mars.
Munching on French cheese and bread while staring up at the Eiffel Tower is the dream of many visitors to Paris. Happily, this is one fantasy that is easy to fulfill as you can almost always find a place to spread out a blanket on the Champ de Mars, the nearly half-mile of lawn stretching before the famous tower. (7th arrondissement, Metro: Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel (line 6), Ecole Militaire (line 8)).
Top Paris Hotel near Champs de Mars: Hotel La Bourdonnais
3. Place de Vosges.
It’s easy to imagine in 17th century Paris when you settle on the grass in this lovely old square. Picnics are popular here, especially on French holidays, so be sure to arrive early to stake your piece of ground. Feel free to bring your laptop along as well because free Wifi is available in the park. (4th arrondissement, Metro: St. Paul, Bastille (line 1)).
Top Paris Hotel near Place des Vosges: L’Hostellerie du Marais
4. Parc des Buttes Chaumont.
This park is an original place to have a picnic as it is located atop a rocky hill and offers spectacular panoramic views of Paris. After lunch, take a stroll through this 61-acre park and enjoy the various attractions, including the waterfall, suspension bridge and Romanesque temples. (19th arrondissement, Metro: Buttes-Chaumont, Botzaris (line 7), Laumière (line 5)).
Top Paris hotel near Buttes Chaumont: Hotel La Perdrix Rouge
5. Musée Rodin.
Few people realize that you’re allowed to picnic on the grass in the beautiful sculpture garden of the Rodin Museum, so if you’re looking for a secluded spot in a romantic setting, you’ve found your place. (7th arrondissement, Metro: Varenne, Invalides or Saint-François-Xavier (lines 13)).
Top Paris Hotel near the Rodin Museum: Hotel K+K Cayré
Best Places to Picnic off the Grass
1. Ile St. Louis.
The banks of the Seine at the Ile St. Louis are a traditional spot for a Parisian picnic. It’s a lovely place to raise a glass of champagne to the passing Bateaux-Mouche, while enjoying close-up views of the Hôtel de Ville (town hall) and Notre-Dame Cathedral. (4th arrondissement, Metro: Hôtel de Ville (lines 1, 11), Cité (line 4)).
Top Paris Hotel near Ile St. Louis: Hotel Des Deux Iles
2. Pont des Arts.
Picnicking on the wooden slats of this pedestrian bridge is thought by some to be the ultimate Parisian picnic experience. It’s a particularly popular spot for twenty-somethings and as you eat, you’ll inevitably be entertained someone strumming on a guitar, blowing a sax, painting a picture of the incomparable view. Go at sunset for an especially magical experience. (1st and 6th arrondissements, Metro: Pont Neuf (line 7), Louvre-Rivoli (line 1))
Top Paris Hotel near Pont des Arts: Hotel Prince de Conti
3. Canal St. Martin.
The stone banks of the canal St. Martin is an increasingly popular place to picnic. Dine under lovely overlapping branches of plane trees or in full-sun: the canal is 4.5 kilometers long so you’ll have your pick of places. After your picnic, you may opt to take an excursion of the canal by boat, where you’ll get a different perspective on many famous Parisian sites. (10th arrondissement, Metro: Place de la Republique, Gare de l’Est, Place de la Bastille de Stalingrad).
Top Paris Hotel near Canal St. Martin: Hotel Marceau Bastille
4. Place de Dauphine.
Tucked away in a corner of the Île de la Cité is a charming, leafy square that most people only stumble upon by chance. You’ll know to come here on purpose. Spread out some napkins on the park benches and dine while reveling in the beauty of the square, the marble walls of the neighboring Palace of Justice, and the peace and quiet. (1st arrondissement, rue Henri-Robert, Metros: Pont Neuf (line 7) and Cité (line 4)).
Top Paris Hotel near Place Dauphine: Grand Hotel Dechampaigne
5. Jardin des Tuileries & Jardin du Luxembourg.
These gardens are among the loveliest and most famous in Paris, but definitely fall in the “pelouse interdite” category. However, you can have a picnic at these legendary spots: just pull up a couple of the green metallic chairs that are liberally placed through the gardens, and eat wherever you like. (Jardin des Tuileries, 1st arrondissement, Metro: Tuileries or Concorde (line 1); Jardin du Luxembourg, 6th arrondissement, Metro: Odéon (lines 4, 10)).
Top Paris Hotel near the Jardin du Luxembourg: Hotel Le Clos Médicis
Photo of picnic in Paris, France, by Stuck in Customs