Have you just arrived on a jet plane from the United States and you are absolutely dying to sink your teeth into a French baguette? You’re certainly not alone, as many of the millions of tourists who come to the capital of France each year hope to experience the wonders of French cuisine. Paris is full of quaint cafes where one can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and a perfect “croque monsieur,” but if one truly wants to assimilate into French culture for a few days, picnicking is the way to go.
Ah yes, the “crunch” of your first bite into a crusty baguette from the neighborhood bakery is the perfect afternoon lunch when paired with a nice glass of red wine and a view of La Tour Eiffel. Unfortunately, if you follow the tourist crowds and perch along the Champs de Mars under Gustave Eiffel’s massive tower, you’ll likely find it difficult to make enough space to set up your picnic. Pick-pockets and beggars also abound in the tourist hot spots, which can quickly turn your idyllic lunch into a nightmare. Thankfully, all hope is not lost, as there are most lesser-known spots in the city that will have you blending right in with the locals in not time, and you’ll avoid the hassle and inauthentic glare of “tourist Paris.”
Most everyone knows of the Louvre, which houses many precious paintings and sculptures from artists around the globe. Fortunately, the neighboring Pont des Arts is decidedly less touristy. Constructed in the 1980s, this pedestrian bridge links the Palais du Louvre with the Institut de France. Popular with the residents of the capital, you’ll find yourself surrounded by locals as you take in the charm of the Seine River and watch the riverboats pass underneath.
Paris is full of little squares and gardens, many of which make for perfect picnic spots, if you’re looking to sit on a hard park bench. Those in search of a peaceful nap in the grass should look to some of the large, central parks in the city. The Jardin du Luxembourg, which is just a quick walk from Notre Dame, is a gorgeous place to enjoy the sun and mingle with the locals. For those looking for a brush with wildlife, the Parc de Bercy in the southeast of Paris blends fish ponds, gardens, and bird habitats with many shaded areas and large patches of grass.
Regardless of whether you’re searching for a bustling capital full of people on the move, or are hoping to spend a more relaxing afternoon in the City of Light, the French capital does not disappoint when it comes to beautiful locations and stellar bakeries full of delicious treats to enjoy for lunch! Bon appétit!