If you’re looking for some romantic ideas this Valentine’s Day, do as the Parisians do. Pack a picnic.

Paris is the perfect place for a picnic and the rate of tourists visiting the country each year shows why. Tourism is one of France’s largest economic contributors, with almost 85 million international visitors spending around 150 billion euros annually. It’s chic to be seen out and about in the City of Lights.

Whether in Paris or at home, here’s four helpful tips you’ll need to pull off the fine art of picnicking.

Shop your food fresh that morning
You’ll fool anyone into thinking you’re a picnicking pro if you come prepared with a hunk of fresh bread, aged French cheeses paired with cured hams and wine accompaniments. Go to a boulangerie (bakery) and fromagerie (cheese shop) first thing that morning. They’re on about every street corner (voila!). The city’s cheaper food market is Marche d’Aligre near the Bastille where there are crates of fruit and vegetables in the street as well as cold meats, artesian sausages and rich liver pates. Choose somewhere tranquil in the heart of the city to enjoy your luncheon. Your only problem will be choosing the perfect spot.

Choose the perfect spot
Luxembourg Gardens is hugely popular in Paris. While lawns are off-limits, it’s fine to perch on a wrought-iron bench and admire the statues of royals and little public puppet shows. Also consider the historic Tuileries gardens near the Louvre if you’d prefer a backdrop showcasing the works of 19th century sculptor Auguste Rodin. Afterwards, taking a two hour guided tour of the city with free service, Paris Greeters is a great way to spend the rest of your afternoon.

Leave room for dessert
Pasties are baked fresh and decorated in ways only the French know how. Pick up madeleines at Fauchon or chocolate truffles at Hediard, both at Place de la Madeleine the home of gastronomy. Or, visit Stohrer on rue Montorgueil, a top patisserie that wins over tourists and locals with its Ali-Baba filled with rum and cream.

Pack the right props
You’ll notice the way young Parisians don’t hesitate to unpack big baskets full of cutlery and other dining accessories. Make sure you’re in the same league with a good picnic blanket, wooden board for your cheese, a guitar if it’s a romantic gesture you’re making; and don’t forget to secure your picnic basket in place on your bike if you’re riding.

Paris’ free sights are extraordinary all over the city. Anywhere you picnic, you can admire the Eiffel Tower, beautiful parks, churches and even get cheap entry to museums on Sundays.

April to June and September to November are the best times to visit. Best Western has over 75 hotels in the Paris vicinity. Here are some tips to help you start planning your next trip.


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