This fall, I went on a total of four picnics–four more picnics than I went on all of last year. So what was the change? I could say that I became more outdoorsy, or that I developed an affinity for eating on the ground. The real reason, however, was that I spent the semester in France. These people really know how to pack a picnic! You, too, can picnic like the French, as long as you master three things: company, location and food. 


cake, beer
Camille Balhorn

Picnics are a family favorite in France. If the weather's nice, an impromptu picnic might just be in order. Upside: your mom will make the sandwiches. Downside: your brother might eat your goat cheese.

Friends love to picnic together as well. You can grab a car, drive to a great spot and make a day of it. Upside: no parents. Downside: there will be that one friend who won't want to participate in a potluck picnic...


Camille Balhorn

Now that you've found your picnic crew, it's time to find the perfect spot. How much time do you have? What do you like to do together? Would you like to go somewhere secluded or open?

With an adventurous group, something active is a great choice. You can drive through the mountains and then climb them too! It would certainly lead you to a secluded picnic spot, and might even make the food taste more rewarding after all of that exercise.

For groups with young kids, it's key to picnic at a play-friendly spot. Sitting on a picnic blanket instead of a confining dinner table makes children much more tempted to get up and run around. And playtime after the meal means a break for everyone–parents too.

When planning that last-minute Sunday afternoon picnic, it's always a good idea to choose an easy to access spot, maybe with some water. This kind of picnic doesn't require much planning, but will certainly be relaxing. After all, what makes a picnic better than being able to take a dip afterwards?


Ah, the food. Really the most important piece of the picnic trifecta. A great way to mimic the French picnic style is to buy your food fresh, like this goat cheese: 

cream, chocolate
Camille Balhorn

Or these olives:

pasture, legume, vegetable
Camille Balhorn

French picnics also often include baguettes, sausage or fruit. Perhaps wine if you're with friends. But above all, fresh, quality ingredients are key to the perfect picnic. 

If you want to expose your tastebuds to something new, try some Goat Cheese and Cucumber Sandwiches. Exactly as it sounds, this common French sandwich is bread spread with goat cheese and filled with cucumbers. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s oh so refreshing for a picnic.

We've seen that the art of the French picnic is rooted in pleasant company, a killer location and fresh food. But doesn't this still seem like a lot to plan?

Like so many other activities, the ease of picnics in France mimics the effortless French lifestyle — they don't strive for perfection. Instead, they do what they can and follow age-old advice: sharing good food with friends and family is the best way to spend your time.