No doubt about it, the French love weekend meals outdoors in the fresh air. The ritual can last hours and depending on consumption of wine, even longer. Picnic spots are numerous. I like Bercy, Parc Montsouris, Champs de Mars, Parc Monceau, Place des Vosges, Square du Vert-Galant, Bois de Boulogne, Quai de Valmy, just to name a few.
Buying your picnic food can be a challenge. Finding central locations where everything is available can save time and frustration. Your neighborhood charcuterie probably carries most of what you’re looking for but you’ll have to add on a trip to the boulangerie, cheese and wine store.
Happily there are places that offer gourmet cold delicacies and all the trimmings, even dessert. Here are some addresses:
Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, 35 boulevard Haussmann
GLG occupies two floors and offers a home delivery service. A feast for the eyes and the taste buds, cases of mouth-watering delicatessen will have you buying more than you can eat. Fresh produce and specialities from the best international and regional food brands abound. Tasting bars dot the first floor.
Le Bon Marché, 38, rue de Sèvres
A temple of good taste, La Grande Epicerie de Paris sells 30,000 gourmet products.
It’s located on the ground floor of Le Bon Marché, Paris’s oldest department store, where its bakery, patisserie, butcher’s and cheese shop will all urge you to give in to gourmet temptation. Prices depend on the age and origin of the product, so you can just as easily enjoy a delicious lavender macaroon for two euros as bankrupt yourself for a bottle of olive oil.
One of the biggest markets in Paris, the Marché Bastille’s food stalls sprawl up the Boulevard Richard Lenoir twice a week. It’s a great source of local cheeses, free range chicken and excellent fish. The piles of fruit, vegetables, saucisses, olives and quiches are interspersed with stalls offering African batiks, cheap jewelery and bags, discount scarves and linens.
Marché Mouffetard, 139 Rue Mouffetard
A wonderful, narrow crowded market street cobblestones and all. Charcuterie, creperies, cheeses, fruit, flowers, rotisserie chicken, pates, seafood shops wind down the hill. A moveable feast, you’re guaranteed a peek at how it used to be before le supermarche.