How to Plan the Perfect Picnic with a French Aesthetic

There’s something undeniably magical about the French way of life. This is why I have embarked on this post on how to plan the perfect picnic with a French aesthetic. Walking the cobblestoned streets of Paris, or frolicking in the quiet countryside of Provence, the French have mastered the art of living well. From daily life, fashion, and cuisine – the French make elegance look so effortless. This ease surely extends itself onto the picnic. That said, I decided to try my hand at planning the perfect picnic with a French aesthetic twist. The French picnic is one of the best picnic ideas.  It is an activity that requires very little planning and can be spontaneous. Let me guide you through planning a delightful French-style picnic, combining a laid-back feel with a touch of sophistication.

Location, Location, Location

The first step to creating a French-inspired picnic is to pick the perfect location. Think of how beautiful the gardens of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, or the fragrant lavender fields in Provence are. Think about how you can recreate that kind of feeling in your local area. Consider a scenic park, a sandy beach, a pavilion, or a botanical garden. Any scene with a beautiful backdrop will automatically transport you to a special place. When picking a picnic spot, consider setting up under some shady trees where you can hope for a soft breeze. Alternatively, on a sunny day, look for the shadows of a large architectural structure to shield yourself from the sun’s rays.  Don’t forget to pack a wide-brimmed hat to shield from the sun the way the French do.

Perfect Picnic with a French  Aesthetic

French Picnic vs American Picnic

The French people adore a picnic. During the summer months in France, it seems like every meal is taken outdoors at a park. Since sundown is after 10 in the evening, the picnics go until late in any public place that is open – local parks, on the steps of Sacré Coeur in Montmartre, next to the Eiffel Tower, in the Jardin des Tuileries or the banks of the Seine.  These picnics tend to be easy and require very little coordination. More emphasis is placed on the quality of time that will be spent with friends.  Surprisingly the menus tend to be coursed with an appetizer, main course, and dessert.  Part of a French meal could include foods like rotisserie chicken, a green salad, and a refreshing drink. Note that fancy recipes are not required.  You should easily be able to find everything necessary in your refrigerator or local deli.

American picnics are more planned and more coordinated. We as a whole have more a fast-paced and regulated life. This leaves us little time to just relax spontaneously. During the past three years picnics have taken the United States by storm. I believe the pandemic had a lot to do with this. I would have to say that they are anything but simple. They are themed, well styled, and require a bit of planning to throw together.   These picnics are fully equipped with a picnic table and a lot of pillows for comfort.

Steps: How to Plan the Perfect Picnic with A French Aesthetic

Here is a list of some of my favorite things you will need to enjoy a perfect French picnic with a French aesthetic.

Basket and Blanket: Begin with a classic wicker picnic basket. Its cottage charm exudes sophistication. Line it with a comfortable and stylish gingham or toile picnic table cloth.

Tableware: A chic French picnic calls for real plates, glassware, and flatware. Leave the paper plates at home and go for vintage or antique items. In addition, consider using champagne flutes for a bit of fancy, even if you’re serving sparkling water.

Cloth Napkins: For a touch of luxury, pack cloth napkins.;

Cheese knives

The Feast

Baguette and Cheese: No French picnic is complete without a fresh baguette, butter, and a selection of cheeses. Choose a variety of your favorite cheeses with different textures and flavors.  Choose various kinds of cheese from hard cheese, and creamy Brie to nutty Comté. Make sure to bring a cheese knife and small bowls for serving.

Charcuterie: Add a selection of cured meats such as prosciutto, saucisson, and pâté. Arrange them artfully on your cutting board.

Fresh Fruits: Include a selection of fresh, seasonal fruits like dried fruits, grapes, figs, or sliced apples. A French touch is to drizzle some honey over them.

Salads: Prepare a couple of salads, like a classic salad Niçoise or a fresh Caprese with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. 

Quiche: Quiche is a versatile and classic French dish that can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature. Prepare a delicious quiche with your choice of fillings.

Desserts: A French-inspired picnic isn’t complete without pastries. Opt for croissants, macarons, and perhaps a simple fruit tart.

Beverages: Don’t forget the drinks! A bottle of French wine, sparkling water, and perhaps a fruity sangria make excellent choices. Ensure you have a wine opener and wine glasses. Here stateside, most public parks do not allow alcohol to be enjoyed. Please check your local laws before you uncork your own wine.

The French Flair: Style and Elegance

Flowers: Fresh flowers add a charming touch. Consider a simple arrangement of lavender or wildflowers in a mason jar.

Music: Create a French-inspired playlist. Soft background music can enhance the ambiance of your picnic.

Setting the Scene For the Best Picnic

Once you’ve gathered your provisions, it’s time to set the scene for your own picnic. Arrange your picnic blanket with care, ensuring it’s comfortable for your guests. Use your wicker basket as a centerpiece and display your tableware artfully.

As your guests arrive, welcome them with a glass of sparkling water or wine. Invite everyone to savor the delightful spread of French delicacies you’ve prepared. You will see immediately how easily lively conversation and laughter will flow – the essence of a French picnic. Setting a beautiful scene is so inviting and automatically creates a festive occasion that your friends will want to enjoy.

As the sun begins to set, conclude your picnic with a toast to good food, good company, and the French way of life. 

A French-inspired picnic is not a one-time affair; it’s a lifestyle. Recreate the experience whenever you need a taste of elegance and a touch of the French countryside in your life.

In conclusion, planning the perfect picnic with a French aesthetic is all about embracing the casual yet sophisticated elements of French culture. From choosing the right location to curating a gourmet feast and adding those special touches, your picnic can transport you to the enchanting world of French leisure. So, gather your loved ones, prepare your basket, and savor the art of the perfect French picnic. You will that having a French-style picnic on a hot day is a great way to spend a summer’s day. C’est magnifique!

What to learn more about picnics: Check out the following posts:

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