Paris was made for picnics and long walks. A picnic here on the Champs de Mars or even a sunset stroll through the Jardin de Luxembourg is lovely in warm weather. If you want to leave the tourists behind for a more tranquille commune with nature, check out these hidden parks of Paris.
The urban oasis of Parc Monceau, in the 8th Arrondissement, is where Parisians go to picnic, jog or just take a casual stroll under the trees. On weekends, French families flock to the park to give the enfants a chance to run around, while groups of friends gather to relax on the lawns and benches. Amble through the pathways and pretend you own a little apartment overlooking the Arc de Triomphe, even if you’re “just visiting.”
In summer months, the park is open from 7 AM to 10 PM, while in winter it closes at 8 PM.
Cheapo tip: After your own picnic, stop by the Musée Cernuschi just next door at 7 Avenue Velasquez. Once a private home, this museum of Far Eastern art offers free admission to the permanent collection. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont
“Butte” in French means “hill,” of which there are plenty at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Climbing up (and up and up) and down the slopes it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a busy city. Setting out a meal at such a severe angle can be a challenge, but the views are well worth it.
Cheapo tip: Two sights not to be missed are the lookout point on the island in the center of the park, and the cave just at the bottom of the adjoining hill. The waterfall inside makes a great backdrop for photos, as many couples have discovered (see photo at right).
From May 1 to September 30, the park is open from 7 AM to 10 PM; from September 30 to April 30 the park closes at 9 PM.
Parc de la Villette
Hands down, the “prairie du triangle” lawn at the Parc de la Villette (in the 19th Arrondissement) is the most comfortable patch of grass you can imagine. It’s perfect for an afternoon or evening picnic, although do be warned of the lack of shade.
Throughout the year, Parc de la Villette hosts various cultural presentations on the lawn and in nearby performance spaces. From July to August, it’s used for Ciné en Plein Air, a free open-air movie theater. Next up is Jazz à la Villette, a two-week festival from September 1st to 13th featuring artists from all over the world.
Cheapo tip: This fall, check out three “spectacles” of Creole theater (September 22 – October 10) and the Cirque Plume, a blend of music, acrobatics and theater (September 30 – December 20).
Tells us: What are your favorite places in Paris for picnicking or promenading?