Picnicking is an art in France. Good food and wine are essential, but a respectable panier en osier should also include refined plates and cutlery. Claire Blondel, a longtime Paris resident who works for an online gourmet shop, recalls her picnicking ritual: “My father often goes all out to prepare an elaborate picnic basket. But for the younger generation, a busy life schedule means we’ll have to improvise with something simple but still delicious.”
Blondel notes that during July and August, many French picnic-goers would ditch the scorching daytime in favour of the cooler breeze in the evening, when they sit beside the Seine and Canal Saint-Martin to enjoy a beautiful sunset and a sumptuous meal. Find out how to make the most of an outdoor picnic with Blondel’s tips to assemble an epic panier en osier.
A hearty picnic sandwich can’t be without cheese, and cheese is a naturally handy nibble to go with that essential bottle of wine. For picnics, Blondel recommends a sturdy Comté, or Saint-Nectaire with a tough rind, as both are more likely to survive the trip without turning into a melted mess. If you must have soft cheese, Saint Felicien would be a solid pick. Blondel also gives a handy tip: Pack jambon, butter and pickles in your basket and make the sandwich on the spot, rather than beforehand. Wrapping the bread in aluminium foil is a good idea to keep it in the best condition.
It’s another all-encompassing ingredient which serves as a sandwich filling or match to alcohol. Impress your guest with French favourite Rosette de Lyon. The pork leg sausage boasts a dark red hue and a balanced fat-to-meat proportion. Goes best with a glass of red wine.
Pâté and bread is a well-loved pairing. But given that it needs to be refrigerated to keep fresh, try pâté en croûte — baked liver in puff pastry. It’s a convenient and tasty solution for picnic-goers. Simply cut it up and indulge in the silky goodness.
Another classic with little introduction needed. This open pie made with eggs, cream and lardon is a delicious pick for dining open-air, as it works well when eaten cold too.
According to Blondel, Salad Niçoise is a go-to option for many Parisians on an outing, and it’s not hard to understand why – the salad delivers great flavours in and is easy to put together. A mix of hard-boiled eggs, olives, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables makes for a vibrant treat, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon. Make a difference and add pepper, chives and parsley before serving.
Depending on the time (and how much of a sweet tooth) you have, anything between homemade cupcakes, yogurt, or whole fresh fruits like apple and pear are good choices.