Paris – A Moveable Feast!

Not many might be aware of French gastronomy having been declared ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO. 

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise really, knowing the French obsession with things culinary.

Cuisine is greatly valued in many European societies. But the French take it up a notch. Here cuisine isn’t food. It is a tradition. A symbol of culture and national pride. Cities come to a standstill for hours during lunchtime. The subject of les meilleur (the best) wine or cheese or mustard is cause for much passionate debate. Even a simple cup of coffee is meant to be savoured, sitting down at a cafe table, all day if you so desire! 

No rushed meals on the go here, or God forbidmunching on a quick snack on the walk home! (Except perhaps to nibble on a delicately torn off bit of that baguette you are carrying under your arm!). 

But when they sit down for a meal they eat with joy and without guilt. And rarely alone. Michael Pollan in his book “In Defense of Food – An Eater’s Manifesto” talks about an experiment to demonstrate the French approach to food:

“He showed the words ‘chocolate cake’ to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: ‘Celebration”

Come spring, meals are carried outdoors with the ritual and duration remaining as important, if less formal. And ingredients chosen with as much care. 

That is how I wanted to end my birthday. With a picnic on the Seine. The French way. Not a hurried sandwich from a nearby deli, with my legs dangling over the water, but a planned outing with the right components for a perfect meal.

So having partaken of a fantastic (despite everything R ordered being better than mine) lunch at restaurant Goust, and exploring a couple of beautiful covered passages, we went shopping for picnic supplies on Rue Montorgueil.

Here is what we ended up with……

Picnic on the Seine - Paris

Pain aux céréales from Eric Kayser – є3.00
Slice of 30 month old Comte from La Fermette – є3.00
Tomato, green grape & bocconcini salad & Baba au Rhum from Stohrer – є10.00
Macarons from Georges Larnicol – є8.00
A bottle of Riesling from Les Caves du Marais – є9.00

The view………….priceless!!!

Paris - Picnic on the Seine

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

69 thoughts on “Paris – A Moveable Feast!

    1. My pleasure Tony. Hadn’t heard of Comte until I read an article by David Lebovitz, a Paris food blogger. Now it is our favourite too 🙂

    1. Oh, that was actually the price of eight. But my dear hospitable husband offered four to a family that stopped to click pictures of our pretty spread!!
      Appreciate your stopping by to comment Shofar. Look forward to seeing you around 🙂

  1. Did I read this correctly? You just celebrated your birthday with this feast? Happy Birthday!

    I love the UNESCO badge of honor. What a strange category. I can think of many things/places that would fall into this ‘intangible’ category.

    I remember reading these reactions to the words ‘chocolate cake,’ too. It’s a sad commentary on my American society that we can’t simply enjoy cake without feeling guilty.

    But I hope you did! Happy birthday again. 🙂

    1. My birthday was three weeks ago Juliann. But thank you for your wishes.
      Meant to send postcards from Paris, but we were too exhausted at the end of each day. This was one of the more relaxed evenings, although I did drag R all the way to the Louvre after…..on foot 😀

    1. Guess i am Lynne 🙂 This was something I have been wanting to do, and strangely it felt way more special than any fancy celebration I have had before!

  2. How wonderfully stylish, Madhu 🙂 A special feast for a special lady.
    Mention chocolate cake in our house and the response is “yes please”. In fact, I’m usually deafened, and then trampled over in the rush.

  3. I can’t think of a nicer place than Paris to enjoy a picnic. And a supper at a table. A better place to buy cheese… aaaaah it’s all so yummy, delicious!

    French gastronomy having been declared ’Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO…. I didn’t know that, madhu – like so many others. Thanks! 🙂
    Good night to you from The Rhine Valley

  4. i know exactly where you were picnicking Madhu, just a few bridges up from where our son lives near Pont Sully, and what a gourmet feast you gathered … a birthday fete or celebration worthy of Paris! PS Happy birthday to you too 🙂

  5. Happy Birthday Madhu 🙂
    I’m glad to know that you are also the zodiac sign of the lion. But perhaps the other hemisphere, the signs are different, does nothing, it is still eighth month of the year 🙂

  6. Without a doubt the BEST thing about France. You can always rely on the country for great cheese, fantastic bread, and ridiculously cheap wine. Picnic o’clock.

  7. Your birthday was three weeks ago, Madhu – so, here’s a belated but – Happy Birthday to you and all good wishes 🙂

    P/s Love those pics too – on the River Seine

  8. Oh my, Madhu, was that Riesling really only 9 euros?! And what a beautiful spot to have a birthday picnic, just across from Notre Dame! Everything looks delicious too, especially the slice of comte cheese. I’m afraid to say I did the exact opposite in Paris, my mother and I didn’t have much time so we skipped lunch and ate bananas as we walked on the riverbank…

  9. I was away for your birthday Madhu.. to late to wish you a happy one now. Your celebration looks spectacular 🙂

  10. So true Madhu. I once read somewhere that our minds were trained by media that when we eat this or that and believe it’s going to make us fat, it will. Great shots and the food looks delicious! Love the bridge. IT’s beautiful! 😀

  11. You have to be careful though because the French eat some freaky stuff. Trust me, if the local horses are gelded don’t try the sausages!

  12. Oh Madhu, what a nice birthday picnic you had with R! When I was in Paris I often had takeaway tuna baguette as we only had so little time in the city. Btw happy independence day! 🙂

    1. Thank you Bama! To you too in advance 🙂
      A picnic on the Seine was something I didn’t have time for on our last visit, so I was determined to do it this time round 🙂

  13. With a great meal and good company, that’s a beautiful spot for a birthday picnic – way better than the airconditioned comfort of a pricey restaurant IMHO.

  14. My comment disappeared. 😦

    What an amazing way and place to celebrate your birthday Madhu! Maison Kayser here in NYC is one of my favorites…I can imagine that in Paris, it’s even better.

  15. What a wonderful post, Madhu. I enjoyed your descriptions and the photographs made me want to do something similar. This is my favorite type of picnic. I have a photo of my daughter (taken 20 some years ago) having a birthday lunch with a friend on a river where she was living in Switzerland. Your experience reminded me of it. I am so glad you had a delightful birthday and wish you many more.

  16. Belated Happy Birthday, Madhu! Aaah…what a delicious way to celebrate! I love French culinary culture and I really enjoyed this post. I love how that the restaurants in Paris don’t rush diners and they let them take their time to enjoy the meal. So unlike here in NYC.

  17. What a nice picnic. 🙂 I like the French’s perspective about food. Eat well, eat without guilt. The remark about chocolate cake being a ‘celebration’ reminds me of home. In the Philippines, special treats like chocolate cake (and the Filipino dessert counterparts) are pasts of big celebrations and evoke joy. Thus, when some food comes to mind, it is not only the taste of it that tickles, but also its the cultural significance and the milieu in which it was eaten.

  18. hApPy BiRtHdAy, mAdHu!!! … What a dreamy gastronomic romantic perfect (have I missed any other words?) celebration! Eat your heart out! (Oh! Wait! You already are!) Bon Appetite!

  19. Love your blog, you rave about Paris and are from Mangalore…. We have a few things in common…. perfect picnic – Your post reminds me of our own birthday celebration in Park Les Halles with family and friends on a very warm summer afternoon…

  20. Ahhh … a leisure lunch fit for a queen on her last birthday day celebration. We July birthday girls require very little – a little cheese, a little dessert, a little wine, a magnificent view and a little amor. France is calling to me. I must add it to my Bucket List. I love romance and this photo screams AMOR …. ahhhh

  21. Oh yeah baby! We saw buffets that are around only €12. My french meal is one of the most memorable solely because we really dine, as in sit down, relax and took our time savoring the moment while the rest of our group were crunching to see places in our short time there.

    Very well written as always, Madhu. You have a travel book? Good word, you should!

  22. Awww! I”d give a lot to be at your picnic on the Siene. We did one on a park with the Tour Eiffel in the background. It was such a great afternoon up until the sun set. The only damper was a gypsy who kept trying to steal our food…..

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