How to have the perfect picnic in France

04th August, 2016
One of the most enjoyed elements of a summer’s day in France is the leisurely lunch – a selection of delicious local foods and wines, ideally enjoyed beneath the sunshine. Enjoyed by people of all ages, a picnic is one of the French people’s favourite ways to lunch, eating a variety of foods in a peaceful location. If you’re staying at one of our luxury French villas this summer, why not try throwing an authentic French picnic for yourself this summer?

A traditional and authentic French picnic will always follow two simple rules – it should always include fresh and locally produced foods, and the accompanying wine should be consumed from a wine glass whenever possible, rather than a paper or a plastic cup!

French picnic food is always plentiful and spans a variety of classic lunchtime treats. Among the essentials are a selection of French cheeses, especially those made from raw milk (lait cru), and a couple of varieties of saucisson, which is a cured pork sausage seasoned with herbs or spices. These of course must be savoured with a classic baguette, or otherwise, with a grain or nut-based bread, which is the custom accompaniment to French cheese. It is also customary to serve with the bread a variety of pates or other meat spreads, which include foie grass and terrine.

Alongside the essentials, there are also a host of other condiments and finger foods which can often be found in a traditional French picnic. Served with the bread and meats especially are the condiments, which include butter and mustard, as well as savoury bite-sized sides such as olives and cornichons, small tart pickles.

A French picnic will also generally include a selection of bite-sized fresh fruit and vegetables, which often depend on the season. Fresh, in-season, local fruit and vegetables are often favoured, and just like the other ingredients of a French picnic, reflect the regional food culture and local growing season. A picnic in France wouldn’t be a picnic in France, however, without a selection of local wines to wash everything down with! Make sure you pack a bottle or two along with some accompanying glasses.

A French picnic can be enjoyed wherever you wish – if they begin to feel some lunchtime hunger, the French will stop what they are doing and find a picnic table or a place to lay down a blanket. Whether they’re enjoying a walk in the countryside or even driving on the motorway, they will happily pause their activity to begin the ritualistic set-up of lunch. Many people also have portable camping tables kept in the back of the car ready for such an occasion, perfect for laying out all of the delicious lunchtime goodies. Wherever you decide to have your picnic, the food is by far the most important aspect, as well as savouring the couple of hours of rest the French enjoy every lunchtime.

Image: Rowena, Karen Corby, available under Creative Commons