No kebabs: How to picnic the Parisian way

Travel News from Stuff - 25-12-2023
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A picnic in Paris shouldn’t be an egg sandwich in a train station, or kebab eaten on a park bench. Picnicking is as much a as petanque or revolution.

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It should be a considered meal that you linger over for half the afternoon as you recline languidly on the grass as if posing for an Impressionist painter.

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Rest assured though, that women don’t have to take all their clothes off, nor do men remain fully attired in jackets and ties, as depicted by Edouard Manet in his scandalous in 1863.

Pick your spot. The best picnics are enjoyed amid the topiary and statues of Paris parks and squares, or at locations with views of the Eiffel Tower which, from a restaurant terrace, would oblige you to have the budget of Marie Antoinette to pay for lunch.

The French bourgeoisie popularised the picnic, said to have originated in 17th-century aristocratic country parties. You have to look the part, so set out to conform to every picnic stereotype.

The French gather so much stuff for outdoor dining it’s a wonder they don’t need a mule to carry it all. A nice picnic basket is a must, clanking with proper plates and cutlery.

So is both a blanket and tablecloth, the latter preferably chequered red and white. Who knows, even candelabra and silver salt cellars might still be de rigueur.

Lay out your table settings as if you’re at home – assuming your home is bourgeois and not bohemian, of course. Your choice of food should be as considered. Don’t just throw together leftovers from a fridge.

It isn’t a Paris picnic unless you’re eating baguette, pate, charcuterie and cheese – something hard, something soft, a bit of blue – rounded out with salad vegetables and seasonal fruits. Produce a bag of chips or can of soft drink and you’ll be guillotined by public opinion.

Counterbalance all the cholesterol with wine. A nice rosé in summer will colour-match your tablecloth and strawberries. Just be aware that Paris bylaws prevent public consumption of alcohol in certain places.

Then again, part of the art of being Parisian is to ignore local government rules.

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