Best Places to Picnic with a Water View

Late summer/early fall is perfect weather for picnics in Paris. And picnics allow you to eat great food on a budget, in parts of the city you might not otherwise visit.

Oh, and great views? If goes without saying. Here are a few of my favorite spots beside water.

At night:
Pont des Arts, a footbridge overlooking the Louvre, with views of the Eiffel Tower, is a popular evening picnic spot. You’ll see couples sharing coupes de champagne, solo travelers pulling baguette sandwiches from worn backpacks, and groups sharing multi-course dinners around brightly colored tablecloths.

Looking for something a bit more low-key? Tango fans meet on the Quai St Bernard, between Sully and Austerlitz bridges.

Lovers prefer the area around the Square du Vert-Galant, the small, charming park near historic Pont Neuf.

Lunch at Port de l’Arsenal, the city’s harbor near the Bastille, will acquaint you with lovers of water craft. You can watch life aboard the many houseboats docked here, and even smell the smoke from their deck-top grills.

Film-lovers set up beside the Canal St Martin, near the Hôtel du Nord (102, Quai de Jemmapes), between the Rue de la Grange aux Belles and the Rue du Faubourg du Temple. The atmosphere is young, relaxed, and full of joie de vivre.

Paris Plage

Summer in the city, even the most beautiful city in the world, is hot. Enter Paris Plage (Paris Beach). For the 9th year in a row, the city has transformed the banks of the Seine into a series of mini summer resorts, all in the name of cooking off.

In central Paris, the beach follows Voie Georges Pompidou, from Pont de Sully (near the Bastille) to Pont des Arts (near the Louvre). Its 3 kilometers contain sand, palm trees, shaded deck chairs, ice cream parlors, climbing walls, tai chi areas, a swimming pool, concert stage, and boules courts.

Dance lessons take place weekday evenings from 7-8 pm near Pont Neuf – choose from waltz on Mon nights, cha-cha and salsa on Tues, and tango on Thurs.

At Bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement, the beach stretches from Rotonde de Ledoux (near the Jaurès Métro) to the former Magasins Généraux (Rue de Crimée). It features a water-sports complex, with row boats, kayaks, pedal boats and dinghies, as well as picnic areas, restaurants, boules and fencing.

About 150, 000 people cool off at Paris Plage daily. The beaches are open 8am – midnight and activities are free, through Aug 20. For concert and activity info, maps, and videos (in French), check the website.