A Picnic In Paris

Paris has many sights of all kinds that are justifiably famous. But it is also a great city for just for walking. And in Paris, walking seems to be inextricably tied to eating.

Paris Rue Mouffetard
Rue Mouffetard, Paris

Judy and I spent a lot of time walking in the general vicinity of our hotel, which was located on the Left Bank near the Jardin du Plantes. We especially enjoyed heading up toward the Place de la Contrescarpe, which is near the University of Paris-Sorbonne.

Paris, Paris bakeries

Paris bakeries
Inside the bakery across the street

Heading out in the morning, we had to pass the bakery across the street. This bakery made it very easy for us to have breakfast in our room every day. I would bring back a fresh baguette and Judy would bring up a pot of coffee from the hotel dining room. We might combine these with fruit or cheese purchased the day before.

It’s astonishing how many really good bakeries there are in Paris, with several within a few blocks of where we stayed.

Vertical gardens in Paris

Of course, while walking we would always pay special attention to any plantings we found. Here are some interesting vertical plantings.

Paris balconies

And the residents of some buildings were fairly ambitious about their balcony plants.

Place de la Contrescarpe
Place de la Contrescarpe. I should mention that this picture was actually taken during our visit in April, 2012. We neglected to get a good picture of Contrescarpe on this last trip.

The Place de la Contrescarpe and the surrounding area was once considered to be more or less a slum. Now it is full of students, middle class Parisians, and tourists. You can have a fine time sitting at a sidewalk cafe, watching the scene and drinking a leisurely cup of coffee.

The coffee is good, but expensive. There are no free refills. On the other hand, they seem to think it is perfectly fine for customers to sit for hours, reading or people watching. Which we did on a few occasions.

Ernest Hemingway in Paris
Hemingway (and Hadley Richardson) lived here.

Ernest Hemingway lived in an apartment just off of the square during the 1920s. During our trip Judy and I both read the novel The Paris Wife, which is a fictionalized memoir of Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first spouse. The book helped us get into a more Parisian frame of mind.

Rue Mouffetard
Rue Mouffetard. Another picture taken during our 2012 visit.

Just off of the Place de la Contrescarpe is the Rue Mouffetard. At first as you leave Contrescarpe, Mouffetard seems dominated by tourist traps of various kinds. However, the further you walk, the more the balance tilts to Parisians doing every day shopping.

2013-09-04 07.11.18

I’m not sure why, but we really enjoy fresh produce stores, even if we don’t buy anything. We noticed that here stores were selling a kind of sour plum called a mirabelle, which we have never seen in the US. Later in the week we shared a delicious desert of stewed mirabelles and caramel sauce.

Mirabelle plums are the yellow ones on the upper left.
Mirabelle plums are the yellow ones on the upper left.

We noticed that the French are very serious about cheese. The quality and variety of cheeses, both in supermarkets and fromagers, was very impressive.

Paris cheese shop
Cheese shop on the Rue Mouffetard.
Unexpectedly, they were out of Cheez Whiz.
Unexpectedly, they were out of Cheez Whiz.

One day we picked up a baguette, some cheese, and some fruit along Rue Mouffetard. We then walked on to a small park on the Rue Monge and proceeded to have a picnic.

A picnic lunch in Paris.
A picnic lunch in Paris.
Park on the Rue Monge, a good place for a picnic.
Park on the Rue Monge, a good place for a picnic.

As we ate kids played, others ate their own lunches, and the nearby fountain splashed for our appreciation.

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Do you have a favorite city for walking?

48 Comments on “A Picnic In Paris

  1. Beautiful images, I would love to stroll around over there, savouring all the wonderful pastries and cheeses, and of course coffee as I love a good capuchino. Thanks for the tour, it’s nice to see other parts of the world.

  2. When I stayed in Paris last year (to visit the plant fair at Courson) I stayed near the Jardin du Plantes and that bakery looks familia! the market on Sunday morning was a joy! I love the way they display their wonderful produce.

      • Hello, sir.

        I made adjustments on my blog’s settings to include a link back to my blog. Thanks =)

        Have a great weekend!

      • my dinning room is styled on a french theme…lots of french pictures and a subtle red colour scheme..only been to the Auverne so mostly countryside but I’m really taken with most things french.

      • my dinning room is styled on a french theme…lots of french pictures and a subtle red colour scheme..only been to the Auverne so mostly countryside but I’m really taken with most things french.

  3. Goodness, that looks like it was a dreamy trip! You got wonderful photos and now I really really want to go to Paris and have a picnic in the park!

    • You should definitely go when you are able, which in our case was not until our kids were out of college. If you like food, it is a fantastic city.

    • I agree about SF, Boston (especially now that they’re done with the big dig) and Georgetown. We did have a lot of fun, I am already daydreaming about going back.

  4. Food, drink, public parks and balconies. It looks like a very liveable urban area. The pastries and baked goods would do me in though!

  5. This post made me ache to visit Paris again….I could almost taste the cheese and coffee. I love the place and really enjoyed this lovely reminder of a fabulous city.xxxx

    • Luckily for you Paris is not nearly as far as for us, though I know how hard it can be to get away. Glad you liked the post, and I agree with you it is a really marvellous place.

  6. I’ve only lived in one city and that was in Florida. It was okay, but I got homesick for the hills and trees before too long. Paris looks like it would be a fun place to visit. I’d have a hard time resisting buying the street art though. Do they still do that?

    • There’s lots of street art in some places, like along the river near the Ile de la Cite. I enjoy the country but am more of a city person myself.

  7. I love Paris very much (and I’m not at all a city person) and it’s a pleasant city to walk around, charming through and through. Our soles were seriously worn when we last visited ;). So glad you enjoyed the culinary side of things too – we certainly love good food and wine in France! Maybe that’s why people are happier here?

    • I think my soles also need replacing! From the outside, at least, France seems happier because of all the good food and wine and not working too hard!

  8. What a fun trip. You captured exactly what I loved about Paris – the bakeries! And they were everywhere. I am hardly a world traveler but I’d have to say that New York is the ultimate walking city. It’s a spectacle no matter where you go, and it’s the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to get around.

  9. Jason, I too love strolling along the streets in new city, the fruit/veggies markets are interesting and I always like looking at people sitting with cup of coffee, walking in the parks, etc. Thanks for sharing!

    • And really good bread is hard to find here. I know a good place for rye and pumpernickel – but not baguettes. We did drink our share of wine, but kept it off camera – this is a family blog, after all.

  10. Great pics. The amount of good quality bakeries in Paris is amazing, I think you’d struggle to get a duff baguette. We had a wonderful time wandering around the city too on a holiday a while back, glad you enjoyed it. Looking forward to hearing what you got up to in London…

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