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Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Le pique-nique, picnic is a French tradition but do you realize what it colloquially means?

Today we had a good laugh during a French online class with Jaclyn and Lynda which inspired me this article. On a eu un bon fou rire = we had a good laugh! So let me extend it to you!

Shocking news: you might be surprised but it literally means... POKING (pique) - FUCK (nique- niquer means fucking in vulgar French)

I am sure that when you think of the word picnic you think of the famous painting of the Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre August Renoir (Les canetiers)

The one I have in mind to help you portray the roots of the French picnic... is the painting of

Édouard Manet - "The Luncheon on the Grass".

So yes, a French picnic is ancestrally not just about wine (le vin), fromage, and saucisson. But letting your hair down and having a good time... quite the precursor of Woodstock really but in a French poetic gourmet elegant way... Actually, during the impressionism period, the trend was to go outside Paris on the river banks, paint, and picnic... so a certain JOIE DE VIVRE pushed to the max here...

So yes, looking at this painting"Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe "– originally titled Le Bain – it depicts a female nude and a scantily dressed female bather on a picnic with two fully dressed men in a rural setting. This will not be possible nowadays in France.

Miss Valerie Travel tip for Paris: THE PERFECT PICNIC LOCATION in PARIScheon on t

he Gras

My version of "Luncheon on the grass" - Acrylic by Valerie Swanson-Parmentier sold for the owner of Magic Lamp restaurant.

Please during your trip to Paris, be spontaneous instead of just cramming as many attractions and tours in the few days.

However, no matter how little time you have in Paris, you must definitely visit this unique island in the middle of the Seine: L’Île Saint-Louis (the Island of Saint Louis), also called Ile de la cité (Island of the City)

I want you to have a picnic on the Île Saint-Louis behind Notre Dame.

Drop some of the long queues at different museums - a waste of time - when you only have a few days in the city. Learn from the Parisians, who wóuld rather sit in a cafe sipping coffee, a glass of chilled rose, or Kir while watching hundreds of tourists passing by on their way to search for the perfect moment, which they may never find.

This is exactly, what I do when in Paris. I go to fill a picnic basket with delicacies bought from the open market (le marché) fresh baguette, cheese (my favorites: brie triple crème, rocamadour, petit basque et roquefort), roasted chicken, foie gras, big plump cherries , figs, configure bonne maman, serrano ham and a bottle of chilled champagne from Nicolas (my favorites are "La Veuve Clicquot" and at a better price "Nicolas Feuillate" (love its fine bubbles and pear taste). You can also go to the supermarket (supermaché) or grocery store (épicerie).

Cross the Pont Saint Louis and go down a flight of stairs in Quai d'Orleans and here there are benches, where you can enjoy your picnic while looking at the most beautiful view of the Notre Dame Cathedral and the River Seine.

Afterward, take a stroll around the island enjoying the architectural features of the well-preserved buildings and along the rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile (don't forget to visit the small church located centrally in this street - free concerts are held several times during the week). While in Île Saint-Louis try queuing for a serving of Berthillion ice cream - it is worth the time.

L’Île Saint-Louis © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

The most important thing about a picnic is to take your time. The picnic is a privileged moment of sharing in the shade of a tree or on the Riverbank of the Seine.

Having a large tablecloth on which to place all the food is, in my opinion, the very essence of a picnic. We have to taste with our eyes the food, the cheese (le fromage), the saucisson (french salami), the little pies (les petites tartes), salads (salades)....before eating them and melting in the surrounding that is surrounding you.

Voila! Practice the French Joie de vivre and just roll the good times savoring all that Paris and France have to offer to you.

BON VOYAGE and don't hesitate to contact me directly if you want me to plan your trip and/or teach you the Parisian Modern French at:

Historical highlight on the Ile Saint Louis

After having been a pasture area for the herd of the Canons of Notre Dame, the island became a district of Paris and was urbanized in the 17th century. In 1614, the islands were connected and the treasure island of Paris was born.

The sister island of the Île de la Cité, the Île Saint-Louis is the younger, more petite, and far pricier of the two Parisian treasure islands. Developed in the 17th-century by King Louis XIII (13th) as a retreat for the wealthiest Parisians, its superb mansions, including the Hotel de Lauzun and Hotel Lambert, remained untouched throughout the French Revolution. Still residential and retaining much of its original village charm, the island is possibly largely Paris' most idyllic setting for a day of shopping, dining, and browsing an art gallery. It is also home to two of Paris' most in-demand ice cream parlors - what more could you possibly want?

Miss Valerie, your devoted French guide.

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