Fine dining and breathing.
Only in Paris is it possible to empty one’s head of everything but that.
And while there is no shortage of world-class restaurants to choose from in the city, there is perhaps no better fine dining experience than simply sitting in one of Paris’ many parks with a picnic basket. Read a book, watch the crowds, take in the sights, and indulge. But first, let me tell you how to do it best.
Step One: Provisions
Bakeries are everywhere in Paris. Be sure how to spot authentic ones: only boulangeries sell bread baked on the premises, and their storefronts will often feature a sticker that says “Artisan Boulanger.” Take care to buy your bread at these shops only. Pick up a baguette or croissant, and maybe some fruit from the stand across the street. In a pinch, a vending machine will do. You will often stumble upon them in metro stations. The offerings are vast; take your time making a selection. As a connoisseur of French cuisine, I suggest the Lay’s.
Step Two: Location
The many green spaces of Paris are unparalleled. Pretend you are royalty in the Jardin de Luxembourg or Jardin de Tuileries. For maximum effect, simply say the word out loud: jardin. You are Marcel Proust, savoring the pleasures of the city. A true francophile, of course, would take their lunch in a quieter park. Buttes Chaumont, perhaps. Parc de Bercy. Live like a local. Even Parisians sometimes get lost, so it’s more than acceptable to situate yourself in a thin patch of grass outside the Montparnasse Rive Gauche shopping mall. The fast-paced life of a sophisticated urbanite often results in spontaneity. Embrace it.
Step Three: Enjoy.
And now, the easy part. Savor every chip. Ignore whatever looks haughty Parisians may throw your way. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged when you realize it’s Sunday and the Rive Gauche is closed. Don’t fret when you realize you were mere steps from the lovely Jardin Atlantique this entire time. Wipe the grass and dew from your backside. Take a stroll through the nearby Montparnassee Cemetery. The line at the catacombs is two hours long, so don’t bother. Stay hopeful, and look forward to your next meal. After all, you will probably be hungry again within the next hour.