When you’re in Paris, the sun is shining and you’re with your best friends, is there anything better to do than put on your best floaty maxi dress, grab your wicker basket, pack a few essentials and head out for a picnic? No I think not.
I let my Best Women take the organisation reigns of my Paris adventure last month but I gave them a few things I’d love to do, and one of those things (if it happened to be warm and sunny) was to find a beautiful park setting and set up a delicious picnic so we could spend the afternoon lying in the sun together, eating, drinking and enjoying the pretty Parisian sights around us.
Luckily it was warm and sunny, they listened to my request and this is exactly what we did on the Friday afternoon. A few days before my trip, Kinder Bueno got in touch to ask if they could send over some of their delicious Bueno bars for review, asking if I’d like to work with them on something a little different, and it seemed a bit of a no brainer to turn our Parisian picnic into a chocolate filled one.
So after arriving in the 30 degree heat, dropping off our bags and getting changed into our summer gear, we packed up the wicker basket and headed out in search of the perfect spot. We stopped off on route at a local Delicatessan to pick up some traditional Parisian ‘de baguette avec jambon et fromage’ or similar, and of course had made sure we’d packed a Bueno or two for a post baguette treat. Originally we had planned to head to the Jardin de Tulleries near the Louvre, as I’d vaguely remembered this having water in the middle and was imagining dipping our toes in mid baguette munching to cool off, but after making the decision to walk instead of get the Metro because ‘it was such a nice day’ we of course got ridiculously lost and only realised once it was too late and we’d walked miles in the wrong direction. With the hunger pangs setting in and the heat seriously messing with our judgement on which direction we needed to go, we spotted a smaller park nearby and decided to hop in and set up the picnic anyway as we were all in need of a pitstop and some re-fuelling. As it turned out this was perhaps a blessing in disguise as this park was much smaller, quieter and more relaxed than the one at the Tulleries probably would have been. The challenge after all was to try something new and this was a place none of us had visited before (but don’t ask us how to get there again as we wouldn’t have a clue!).
We managed to find ourselves a comfy spot just under a tree that provided a much needed bit of shade and set about preparing our lounging area for the afternoon. Now, I don’t know about you but for me there are a few essential ingredients for a good picnic. The first is a pretty blanket to sit on (a picnic is not a picnic without the blanket right?). Luckily my friend was all over this and had brought along a few vintage print numbers that looked perfect on the leafy grass and made for the ultimate sunshine lounging base.
Secondly, I love a real picnic basket. I found this little one with cute straps and handle on Ebay and had originally bought it for our wedding but thought it would be ideal for Paris too. It was just the right size – fitting a cool bag and ample baguettes plus some napkins, cutlery and plastic glasses – and then once our picnic was finished it could double up as a cute holdall for the suncream, spare shoes and all other things I had thought I may need for a day out in the city.
The final component of course is the food. Good food equals a good picnic. While at home I’d normally fill up the basket with lots of small items and bits and bobs we could pick at all afternoon, in Paris we were restricted by what we could find on route to the park and so this meant freshly made filled baguettes bought from the nearby Deli stand, which frankly after getting lost for too long in the baking heat was the just what we all needed. Then of course there was the Kinder Bueno bars, a real treat to end on. For a few of my friends, this was their first time trying a Bueno but for me, it’s one of my chocolate bars of choice. I can remember eating the Kinder eggs as a child and just absolutely loving the fact that I got chocolate and a toy in one go (anyone else get as excited about that?) but the Kinder Buenos are definitely a chocolate bar I can still enjoy now. They give me the chocolatey satisfaction I need without being too heavy and the mix of chocolate, wafer and creamy hazelnut inside is scrumptious. Even my friends who hadn’t had one before commented on how tasty they were, and thanks to my cool bag they hadn’t melted one bit even in the hot hot heat so we could keep some back for snacks later on when the hanger hit once again.
Sometimes it pays to try something different, and for me there’s no better time to do so than when on holiday. I wear outfits abroad that I never would at home, push myself to climb a thousand steps up the Eiffel Tower instead of getting the lift, eat foods I might not have considered and spend afternoons in random parks offering French strangers a Bueno to say thanks for giving us directions. There’s a certain confidence that comes with being in a foreign land where no-one knows you or can call you out, you feel that bit braver, and at the same time that bit sillier. You’re on holiday so it’s as if nothing counts – eat the chocolate, drink the wine, stop and chat to the stranger, order in French even though you know you’re terrible, because soon you’ll be back home and back to normality and wishing you’d tried even more of the things you wanted to.
The sun stayed up long into the evening that day and we were able to sit and relax in that park for quite some time with the birds tweeting around us, and us planning our route to the next stop on the agenda – a climb up the Eiffel Tower – so that we didn’t get lost again. After lots of silly photo taking, plenty of laughs, and all suitably re-fuelled, we packed up the blankets and took our wicker basket to the nearest bar for mojitos before heading to the Tour Eiffel area for dinner then taking the final trip of the night up the tower to see the city all lit up.
It was the perfect first day in the city, and our chocolate filled picnic was the best way to enjoy that afternoon sun to the fullest. What about you? What are your key picnic essentials?
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