On the shuttle back from Beauvais airport after my recent trip to Italy, I was listening to some American and Canadian tourists chatting about what to do in Paris. “So like, besides the Eiffel Tower, what’s there to do here?” said the American lady.
Hahaha. Well, in my opinion pretty much the best thing to do in Paris is have a picnic. Because (1) there are gadgjillions of excellent street markets all over the place where you can buy delicious picnic food (2) the city is full of romantic, idyllic places to consume said food (3) the open liquour laws are, though not quite non-existent, quite low-key.
Here are some pic-nic venues I like in Paris.
35 Boulevard de Courcelles,
Situated in the 8th, near two excellent museums of Aisiatic art, Musée Guimet and Musée Cernusci. It’s a small park filled with charming architerctural follies.
1 Rue Botzaris, 75019
Has a lake, a temple on a hill, a grotto and waterfalls!
Bois de Vincennes
My favorite place, maybe. Situated outside the southeastern side of Paris and reachable by the lovely Promenade Plantée. It also has a lake. With islands! On one of which is situated a temple! And canoe rental! And it’s really easy to get lost in, in a fun way. It’s called a “wood” but it’s not really woods, it’s a ginormous park with good biking paths. Grab a Velib and spend a day exploring.
the banks of the Seine
In some places, the cobbled banks of the Seine are not ideal for eating, due to the odor (piss). But if you go to the right place you’ll have a nice view. My favorite place to drink wine by the banks of the Seine is on the Rive Gauche just opposite and a little upstream of the Notre Dame, between the Pont au Double and the Pont de the Pont d’Archeveché. Go in the evening and enjoy the view of the cathedral, which in my opinion is most beautiful from the back.
Parc de Bercy
128 Quai de Bercy 75012
Located in the 12th, across the river from the Bibliothèque Nationale, which can be reached over of the nicest yet lesser-frequented pedestrian bridges, the Passarelle Simone Beauvoir, which is cool and modern and shaped liked overlapping sinusoids. This park as a chill vibe. Sometimes I see people juggling or practicing poi there. And it has free wifi.
A classic but lovely. You can rent toy boats on certains afternoons to punt about in the pond… I used to do this when I lived in France as a child.
Jardins de Plantes
The botanical gardens of Paris. Go to the Museum of Natural history! It has several buildings situated throughout the park, with seperate entrance fees; some are free for under 26 year olds. My favorite is the Gallery of Comparative Anatomy, because of all the skeletons. There are also a menagerie and several greenhouses.