Whether you want to go to the sea, the wood, the mountains, the lake or the park, summer in France is just wonderful. To make it even better, why not picnic the French way? We’ve put together a definitive guide to the main items you will need in your basket…
Even though sandwiches (made from a baguette) are quite popular in France, as a holiday lunch, they are eaten as a quick and handy meal in the queue to visit a museum for example. But picnic is a holiday activity in itself, and (as you would expect from the French) often takes the shape of a buffet with many succulent items.
Many touristic villages or destinations (such as forests, beaches, lakes etc) also have wooden or stone tables at people’s disposal.
A French picnic, like any other French meal, has to have bread. Pick a freshly baked baguette or a sliced cereals bread (“pain aux céréales”). (Read more about French bread here).
Charcuterie (cured meat) is ideal for picnics. Take a wide selection: saucisson, rosette and jambon (ham) to make sandwiches or eat with bread, along with rillettes and pâté to spread on tartines (slices of bread). French people love to have gherkins (“cornichons”) with charcuterie.
Also bring several types of cheeses, it is always a nice addition to a picnic menu. There is no rule, so either you like goat cheese, camembert or comté, just take your favourites!
Salade de crudités
French people love “salades de crudités” (salad of raw vegetables), like “carottes rapées” (shredded carrots with French dressing), “céléri rémoulade” (shredded celeriac with a creamy white sauce). They also love “salads composées” which consist of a cold mix with a carbohydrate base complemented with vegetables and meat. The most popular include “salade de pâtes” (pasta salad) and “salade piémontaise”, made of potatoes, pieces of ham, egg and tomato and mayonnaise.
You can also bring tomatoes (eaten whole like fruit) and radishes, eaten whole as well, with salt, bread and butter.
Cold chicken and crisps
Another popular dish for French picnickers is a whole roasted chicken (eaten cold) with crisps.
Quiche and savoury cakes
Quiche and savoury cakes are also often found on the table cloth of a French picnic. People really love quiche, which is a staple of the French gastronomy. Savoury cakes (simply called cakes) are a bit more modern but are now a classic of the French picnic – dried tomatoes, olive and goat cheese cakes are the best.
Summer in France means a lot of delicious fruits, bought from the local producer. Oozing-with-sunshine peaches, figs or cherries are simply perfect to finish a meal. Slices of melon is a very popular and refreshing starter (or dessert, depending on families).
Of course, don’t forget the wine! In summer, people go for a rosé or white wine as they are much more refreshing than red and go better with summer food.
And don’t forget a proper table cloth!
Un pique-nique = a picnic
Pique-niquer = to picnic
Charcuterie = cured meat
Fromage = cheese
Crudités = raw vegetables