One of my suggested top romantic things to do in Paris is picnicking. A simple undistracted Paris date idea, you won’t be bothered by waiters, other clients and the status quo dining out in a restaurant and can instead simply concentrate on enjoying quality time with your sweetheart. It’s also the ideal occasion to relax, savor delicious culinary treats picked up at a local market or speciality food shop and soak up gorgeous views of Paris. However, not all places to picnic in Paris offer a romantic, intimate setting. You can find this at these tiny pocket parks, tranquil gardens and untouristy spots with very Parisian backdrops. Bon appetit and happy picnicking!
Place Louis Aragon
Located at the tip of Ile St Louis, this tiny “square” is one of my favorite places to picnic, with or without romance in mind. Easy to reach, all you need to do is take the steps at the end of Pont Saint-Louis or Pont Louis-Philippe and find a little spot at the point of the island to settle down at. Here you’ll be away from the crowds which sometimes overflow on the quais and have a lovely view of the Seine, Ile-de-la-Cité and the passing boats.
Quai de la Tournelle
One of my top romantic places of the 5th arrondissement (see the full list here), this stretch along the southern river bank bewitches visitors thanks to it’s gorgeous views of the back and south side of Notre Dame and Ile-Saint-Louis. Quintessentially Parisian, you also have moored péniche barges, cobblestones and passing boats which add an additional dash of magic. While a daytime picnic could be nice, it might be a tad too sunny, so I’d recommend coming in the early evening, which will allow you to get the perfect sit to enjoy the sun setting beyond Notre Dame. The quai can get a little busy with Parisian picnickers as the sky darkens, some armed with their guitars, the vibe generally remains chill and enjoyable for all. If you’re interested in dancing, drift a little further east along the river (away from Notre Dame) and you’ll come to the Seine’s open-air dance floors, abuzz in the evenings with the rhythms of Tango and Salsa.
Square du Vert-Galant
This small square at the westernmost tip of Ile-de-la-Cité isn’t merely beautiful, it also has a fascinating history, and one linked to romance. Creating in the early 17th century during the reign of Henri IV, it earned its name thanks to the galant king… and his copious amounts of mistresses. You’ll know how to reach the square, by looking out for the statue of the king which presides above the small garden bordering the river. If you come earlier enough you might get the prized seat at the point, under the weeping willows and with a stunning view of the Seine, Pont des Arts and the setting sun.
Parc Rives de Seine
Extending from the edge of Ile Saint-Louis and all the way to the Louvre, this former expressway along the north banks of the Seine has been a hit (except with motorists) since it was converted into a park in April 2017. It offers a number of great places to picnic, although the most picturesque and romantic spots are likely the grassy knoll across from Notre Dame and a little further up past Pont Neuf, ideal at night as the bridge is beautifully lit at night and you can see the turrets and towers of the Conciergerie in the distance. There are also some open-air bars which dot this part of the park, so if you’re looking for a bit of a lively ambiance after your picnic, you won’t have to go far.
Jardin des Rosiers-Joseph Migneret
The Marais has a number of enchanting parks, this one (mentioned in the romantic 4ème arrondissement guide) gets extra points for this article since it offers the surprise factor, hidden back from the street, and the fact that you can sit on the grass (not always the case in the other gardens of the area. In addition, if it’s a spontaneous picnic, you can just grab a falafel from the one of the vying restaurants on rue des Rosiers (l’As is still my favorite!), then make your way here.
The Tuileries is too crowded and you’ll get kicked off the grass in the Luxembourg, the lovely Parc Monceau combines both an elegant Parisian ambiance with good picnicking conditions for an classic daytime garden picnic. The refined garden in the 8th district has undulating swaths of grass, statues, faux Roman columns and more discreet areas under the trees and in quiet nooks. You can also pick up your supplies from the shops on and around rue Levis at nearby Villiers métro, plus, if you’re feeling like adding some culture to your picnic date, you can stop in at the beautiful Musée Nissim de Camondo or the Musée Cernuschi, both bordering the park.
Parc de Bercy
Often overshadowed by Paris’ big name parks, this long, bucolic park has plenty to offer for romantic picnickers. Extending from the Accor (Bercy) Stadium to the Cour Saint Emilion, the expansive green space has tall trees for shade, open sunny patches of grass and charming bridges. It rarely feels crowded so you have better chances to find a quiet corner for just the two of you then at the other more famous parks. Plus, before or afterwards you can you could go for a walk along the nearby Promenade Plantée (coulée verte René Dumont), either bank of the Seine (across the river is buzzing with the “boat bars” in the evenings or simple amble over to the cafés in the picturesque Cour Saint Emilion for a drink.
Bois de Vincennes
If you want to guarantee yourselves some privacy, then make your way to one of the larger woods on either side of the city. I have a preference for the Bois de Vincennes. The sprawling woods has an endless amount of discretes corners where you can snuggle with your chéri/e. You can also extend the romance by renting a rowboat on the Lac Daumesnil to take you out to the l’île de Reuilly, home to the picturesque Temple d’Amour. A laid back place to worship your love, it’s a fun and different sort of date. You could also pair this with the Parc Floral section of the woods, which hosts free Jazz and classical music concerts in summer, though be warned, here you’ll forfeit the tranquil ambiance of the rest of the woods.
Parc de Bagatelle
Across the city in its other large woods, my favorite romantic spot in the Bois de Boulogne is the extremely enchanting Parc de Bagatelle. The result bet between Marie Antoinette and her brother-in-law, the Count of Artois, over whether he could convert this newly purchased property into a leisure chateau and park in less than 64 days, the park is all that remains of his successful completion of the challenge. The spacious park includes over 10,000 rose bushes, hundreds of other flowers, charming meadows and many grassy knolls beckoning romantic picnickers.
Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet
The steps and grass in front of Sacré Coeur showcase a fabulous panorama of the whole city… however, this comes at the price of hundreds of other people, a constant stream of beer peddlers, a certain amount of sketchy characters– none of which I’d deem very romantic. For a more romantic quintessentially Montmartre setting, admire the view then drift with your picnic supplies (which you can pick up on nearby rue des Abbesses), to the small square behind the basilica. You won’t be the only ones there, it’s rather popular with local families, however, you can feel like you’re “sightseeing” in Paris whilst sipping your wine and nibbling your cheese gazing up at the church’s dome.
Parc de Belleville
Hang with the locals (perhaps drinking some craft beer) as you take in some of the best views of the Eiffel Tower at the top of this park in the northeast of the city. Located in Paris’ artsy and working class neighborborhood, where Edith Piaf sung her lungs out on soap boxes and up and coming Picassos are busy toiling away in their studios, this more modern park clings to the Belleville hill. There are an abundance of nice places for a picnic, the high up you go, the better the views. The “belvedere” at the top overlooks the city and is the perfect place for some romantic smooches when the Eiffel Tower begins twinkling. Behind here is a nice square, alive with café terraces, where you can carry on your evening with les gens du quartier.
So you want to marvel at the Eiffel Tower at night, but without the chaos from in front of it or the Champs du Mars? Claim a patch of grass on the right side of the large fountain of the Trocadéro Gardens. Situated across the river from the Eiffel Tower, here you can enjoy some gourmet snacks and sip on some bubbly with the twinkling tower in the backdrop.