Paris- where fresh bread, street crepes, and an overwhelming cheese selection can be found in every neighborhood. Not only is going into the local boulangerie to pick up a chewy “baguette ancienne” or signaling to the cheesemonger how many inches to cut from a ripe, briny wheel of cheese an important cultural experience- it is the first step in having a perfectly Parisian picnic!
This isn’t just a basic tourist activity that requires a beret and copious amounts of selfies- the locals do it too.
Paris has one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world and locals are used to renting small spaces and treating city public space as their backyard! On any sunny day in Paris, you’ll see the benches along the Seine, green chairs in the gardens, and grass in the parks filled with friends and families sharing a bottle of wine or unpacking a picnic meal.
You can do the same, wherever you’re staying in Paris- the city has beautiful green spaces in every single neighborhood (known as “arrondissements”). Here is a guide with the best picnic sites in all 20 arrondissements for locals and tourists alike.
1st Arrondissement: Jardin des Tuileries Gardens
These massive gardens neighboring the Louvre are filled with fountains, sculptures, beautifully landscaped flower beds, and an old-fashioned Carousel surrounded by French children and their international au pairs. Sit in one of the famously French green chairs surrounding the fountains, or opt for a picnic in the grass just past the Carrousel Arc de Triomphe for a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower poking up over the gardens. Perhaps most importantly- any Tuileries visit is instantly enhanced by a to-go cup of decadent hot chocolate from the neighboring Angelina Tea Room.
Nearest Metro: Tuileries
2nd Arrondissement: Square Louvois
This lovely square centered by the Visconti fountain (same architect who built Napoleon’s Tomb) offers a small respite from the small yet bustling Bourse neighborhood, and is an important gathering place, as the 2nd is the arrondissement with the least amount of public green space.
Nearest Metro: Bourse
3rd Arrondissement: Square Léopold-Achille
Located in a residential stretch on the northern end of the trendy Marais neighborhood, this tranquil square is a perfect place to take a rest after browsing the shops, art galleries, and darling side streets of the 3rd arrondissement. Surrounded by beautiful Haussman buildings with balconies and ivy covered walls, you will witness French families walk out of those buildings, bring their kids to play in the square’s sandbox and think, “Sign me up for your life, kid.”
Nearest Metro: Chemin Vert
4th Arrondissement: Place des Vosges
This is the oldest planned square in Paris and served as a fashionable green space surrounded by expensive homes and restaurants, where nobles used to meet and chat in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, as the largest green space in the Marais, the manicured hedges surrounded by red brick archways remain a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. You can also visit the Maison de Victor Hugo in the southeast corner of Place des Vosges, where the writer lived from 1832-1848 and wrote some of his famous works, including part of Les Misérables.
Nearest Metro: Chemin Vert
Runner up: Place Louis Aragon
This small park on the westernmost tip of Île Saint-Louis offers fantastic views of the Seine running along the Right Bank, with the opulent Hôtel de Ville in the Marais towering over the water. Save a few crumbs to feed the family of swans that maintain a nest under the island’s bridge. Secure the perfect ending to your island picnic with a cone of Berthillon ice cream on nearby rue Saint Louis- this locally made, all natural ice cream has been exclusively made and sold on the island since 1951!
Nearest Metro: Pont Marie
5th Arrondissement: Jardin des Plantes
These large, public botanical gardens are just far enough south of the main Parisian tourist attractions to feel off the beaten path in a convenient way. The public gardens boast open fields of labelled plant species, as well as winding pathways filled with plants idigenous to the mountains, and are popular with local joggers and students from the neighboring universities. The Ménagerie (Zoo) and National Museum of Natural History are also onsite, but require you to purchase a ticket.
Nearest Metro: Gare d’Austerlitz or Jussieu
Runner up: Place du Pantheon
Inspired by the Roman Pantheon, this historic building in the 5th remains associated with the artists, academics and philosophers who have inhabited Paris’s Latin Quarter for centuries, and its square is still a common gathering space for professionals and students of the renowned neighboring Sorbonne University. Sit on a bench in the shadow of the brilliant neoclassical architecture, whose towering dome can be spotted from virtually every iconic Paris view.
Nearest Metro: Cardinal Lemoine
6th: Le Jardin du Luxembourg
Originally created in the 1600s and inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence, the Luxembourg Gardens remain as one of the largest and most iconic Parisian green spaces, with the monumental Medici fountain, the Orangerie, Pavillon Davioud, and the many remote controlled boats in a central pond surrounded by droves of the famous green chairs. Wedged between the Latin Quarter and the illustrious Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, you have ample options for browsing a local book store or grabbing a cup of coffee after your picnic.
Nearest Metro: Luxembourg
7th Arrondissement: Champ de Mars
I mean- what can I say other than this is the quintessential picnic spot when it comes to Eiffel Tower views? Champ de Mars is the large public park in the 15th arrondissement situated between the Eiffel Tower and École Militaire, the grand former military training school that Napoleon once attended. Grab a bench along Avenue Joseph Bouvard or just bring a blanket and plop down in the grass when you find a view you like!
Pro tip: A picnic with these views calls for wine or champagne (or both!)- make sure to get a screw top or bring your own bottle opener. I’ve seen many a disappointed picnicker forget this important piece!
Nearest Metro: École Militaire or Gare Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel
8th Arrondissement: Square Marigny in the Jardins des Champs-Élysées
This calm square at the base of the bustling Champs-Élysées is a great place to rest after some shopping, perhaps with a few Ladurée macarons in tow. You can sit by the fountain, enjoying views of both the Petit and Grand Palais, or perhaps watching collectors browse the open-air stamp market (marché aux timbres). This square is especially magica during the Christmas season, thanks to the lines of light-filled trees that envelop the park.
Nearest Metro: Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau or Franklin D. Roosevelt
9th Arrondissement: Square d’Anvers
With views of Sacré-Cœur Basilica looming between street corners, this square is actually the sight of an old abattoir (fancy word for slaughterhouse). Now it’s a peaceful park and neighborhood playground that hosts local meat and produce vendors setting up shop twice a week; if it wasn’t for the views of the Sacré-Cœur, you wouldn’t believe you are just off the busy Boulevard de Rochechouart.
Nearest Metro: Anvers
10th Arrondissement: Jardin Villemin
What was once a military hospital, this large urban green space now has walking trails, a community vegetable garden, and a few surrounding open-air cafes that jut up to the waters of the trendy Canal Saint-Martin. You could easily spend a whole afternoon enjoying this park before checking out the buzz surrounding Saint-Martin nightlife.
Nearest Metro: Gare de l’Est
11th: Square Jules-Ferry
This square is a series of long, narrow gardens at the base of Canal Saint-Martin, lined with community ping pong tables and sandy stretches where the men of the neighborhood will get riled up over a game of Petanque or Boules (essentially French Bocce Ball). The stretch of green space is wedged between two local performing arts centers- Apollo Théâtre and Palais des Glaces.
Nearest Metro: Goncourt
12th Arrondissement: Promenade Plantée
This magical three miles of elevated gardens is the city’s best kept secret of public green spaces. Starting at the crossroads of rue de Lyon and avenue Daumesnil, most people don’t realize this Parisian Highline exists, though the park was converted from an abandoned aqueduct back in the 1930s. There are multiple stairwell access points along the way, but the first stretch is over the Viaduc des Arts- where parts of the old brick viaduct now holds over 50 artisan workshops and showrooms. Start there, then work your way up to those magical Parisian rooftop views!
Nearest Metro: Gare de Lyon
13th Arrondissement: Riverside, along Port de la Gare
This lively stretch of paved walkways along the Left Bank of the River Seine is lively gathering spot among the locals. At dusk, it is not uncommon to find a large group of friends gathered along the riverbank, sharing bottles of wines and perhaps dancing to tunes on a portable speaker. If you come during the day, check out Piscine Josephine Baker, the public pool where you can swim along the Seine, then grab a drink on Le Petit Bain- a floating restaurant and live music venue.
Nearest Metro: Quai de la Gare
14th Arrondissement: Parc Montsouris
This large neighborhood park was built at the former site of the Montrouge quarry, used to collect bones as part of the Parisian network of catacombs. Napoleon III felt inspired to turn it into a park modeled after those of London, where those of different social classes could comfortably mingle. Today it is a popular gathering space with students attending the nearby Cité Universitaire and families living in the 14th.
Nearest Metro: Cité Universitaire
15th Arrondissement: Parc André Citroën
This public park is situated deep in the 15th arrondissement, in a green space that used to be a car factory, along the Left Bank of the River Seine. It is now home to the Ballon de Paris Generali- the hot air balloon that offers you a 150 m (492 ft) panoramic bird’s eye view of the City of Paris, where the Eiffel Tower is front and center. Buy a ticket before you picnic- I recommend coming first thing in the morning to avoid lines on weekends or public holidays, as this is a popular activity for French families too!
Nearest Metro: Javel – André Citroën
16th Arrondissement: Jardins du Trocadéro
While the Trocadéro metro stop will put you on the sprawling Esplanade full of street vendors and selfie-taking tourists, push your way past the crepe stands and rose sellers to find either side of a set of stairs leading down to the Trocadéro Gardens. If you are visiting between May and August, the majestic patterns of the spraying Trocadéro fountains will only add to the grandeur as you picnic with a breathtaking Eiffel Tower view.
Nearest Metro: Trocadéro
Runner up: Along the steps of the Luis De Camões Statue
Just a few blocks downriver from the busy Trocadéro Carousel, off a much quieter stretch of Boulevard Delessert, lies a small staircase that leads to a stone memorial of Portugal’s greatest poet, Luis De Camões, whose location also boasts a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower, picturesquely framed by Haussman buildings and spindled balconies. This quiet street is a great nearby alternative to picnicking at the Gardens of Trocadéro if you find them to be too crowded.
Nearest Metro Arrondissement: Passy
17th Arrondissement: Promenade Pereire
What was originally cultivated in the late 19800s to cover up old railroad tracks, this long stretch of public gardens (approximately 1 km long) is now a great way to explore the heart of the 17th arrondissement. A lush city haven, you can admire the large selection of beautiful rose bushes and bronze statues while you picnic beneath fragrant pear trees. My favorite spot is the kitchen garden at the corner of Rue Guersant and Boulevard Pereire!
Nearest Metro:Gare de Neuilly – Porte Maillot or Porte de Champerret
18th Arrondissement: Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet
Once you make it up the many steps of Sacré-Cœur and take in the views, don’t forget to go around to the back! Square Marcel is a beautiful terraced garden and park with close up views of Sacré-Cœur Basilica and far-stretching views of the other side of the city. The walkways are draped with canopied greeneries and particularly stunning in the fall as the vines and tree leaves morph into dozens of shades of red and orange.
Nearest Metro: Anvers or Abbesses
19th Arrondissement: Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
The locals’ Central Park of Paris, this large green space has a lake, water falls, running paths and an old temple connected by a suspension bridge built by none other than Gustave Eiffel. There are some steep hills, but trust me, the climb is worth it: the park’s high elevation offers insane views of Haussman architecture, the Eiffel Tower, and Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
Nearest Metro: Buttes Chaumont
Runner up: Along the banks of Le Bassin de la Villette
Along the largest manmade body of water in Paris, this stretch is popular with the locals but remains mostly free of tourists, You will be all set to rent a kayak, drink a craft beer, or browse books on a boat after your picnic!
Nearest Metro: Laumière or Riquet
20th Arrondissement: Parc de Belleville
Located in an artsy neighborhood known for its diverse residents, street food, and contemporary art scene, this hilltop park offers a beautiful 180 degree view of Paris. At the bottom you will find the singer Edith Piaf’s birthplace, at the top you will find a magnificent Eiffel Tower sunset view surrounded by Belvédère de Belleville’s cool street art.
Nearest Metro: Pyrénées or Couronnes