The French Country Picnic

by Alice White Walker
two deckchairs, picnic rug and food laid out on grass

There’s nothing quite like the humble joys of a picnic. And the French countryside perfectly lends itself to this wonderful alfresco dining experience.

Join us for a beautiful French country picnic, and find ideas to inspire your next spring/summer outing!

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May and June are the ideal months to picnic in France. The weather is warm without being hot, the month of May is full of bank holidays and long weekends, and the French naturally lean into this first taste of the summer season that is just beyond the horizon.

two deckchairs, picnic rug and food laid out on grass

On paper, a picnic is just transferring a civilized sit-down meal from the comfort of table and chairs to the relative discomfort and inconvenience of having to transport everything required, set it up in a practical manner then sit down on the ground to eat. But in reality, we know the experience of a French country picnic is much more than that.

So what is the attraction of a picnic? It’s all about getting away. Getting away from phones, to-do lists and the frenzy of everyday life. Sitting down with friends to eat a delicious meal in beautiful surroundings, taking the time to enjoy the view and the conversation.

serrano ham, colored tomatoes and a baguette laid out on a board

Picnickers can chat, read, snooze, play games, fish or even paint. Nobody is watching the clock. This is a moment to savor, to be prolonged and to share.

Food is best kept as finger food, light bites that can be snacked on when hunger strikes, and easily packed up into individual portions. Little pot parfaits are an elegant option for both transporting and eating food in. Fresh red fruit topped with a macaron or shortbread make a truly delightful dessert. 

macarons with raspberries in jars and individual tarte tatin

Add colorful food to your spread, think crimson peppery radishes – best eaten with a lick of salted butter -, red and green tomatoes, slices of tasty golden quiche… And no picnic would be complete without several sticks of crunchy bread!

A French country picnic is also an occasion for impromptu romance. A chilled bottle of rosé, secluded corner, cosy blankets and cushions makes a wonderful date for two. Less food required than for a bigger crowd, but there’s the same pleasure of resting in a beautiful setting and watching the world go by, be it ducks on a river or people in a park.

two deckchairs, picnic rug and food laid out on grass

Summers may pass in the blink of an eye, but there should always be a moment to slow down, and partake in the simple pleasure of a picnic.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2019 issue of My French Country Home.
Photography & text by Sharon Santoni

 

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