The Parc de Belleville is Paris’s hidden gem for outdoor dining and drinking.

By Alexandra Marshall
June 23, 2015
Credit: © Nathan ALLIARD/Photononstop/Corbis

There’s a reason why having a picnic in Paris is on everyone’s to-do list. But the parks you know best, like the Jardin de Luxembourg, are not actually the ideal grounds for one. You need open greenery—at Luxembourg it’s forbidden to sit on the grass—and easy access to pre-chilled wine and a variety of good takeout. Bonus points if the park is off the beaten path enough to discourage crowds.

For all of the above, you can’t do better than the Parc de Belleville. It’s within spitting distance of the fantastic yet often crowded Buttes Chaumont, and as it’s somewhat hidden, it only gets a third of the foot traffic. A fenced-off section on the southeast corner, ringed by rose vines, is ground zero for local families, and there’s always plenty of grass to share.

Also, it’s ideally set for provisions. In the last year or two, the section of the Rue de Belleville that climbs into the Jourdain neighborhood, just a few minutes on foot from the park, has become quite the gourmet mini-hood.

Get suckling pig and arugula sandwiches, a broad array of Luscombe’s artisanal sodas, and bellota pork charcuterie from O Divin Epicerie. Drinking in Paris’s parks is legal, so you can stock up on natural wine and Deck and Donohue craft beers while you’re there.

The newest outpost of Maison Castro, the sandwich and fancy canned goods emporium, is just down the street, for those in need of chorizo, artichoke cream, and sun-dried tomatoes on a baguette, or a vast array of sardines. Of the several storefronts belonging to cheese master Pascal Beillevaire, the one just up from metro Jourdain has the biggest selection of his house-made yogurts. Our current favorites: rose hip, cranberry, and fig and cinnamon.

Further down the hill toward the park is Fromagerie Beaufils, in case you prefer your yogurt made out of sheep’s milk in flavors like pear and pistachio, or your cheese English. (Beaufils is the official French distributor for Neal’s Yard, though it only takes about 10 percent of their counter space away from the homegrown.)

For dessert, the peanut butter cookies at third-wave coffeehouse Cream, around the corner from the park, are so chewy, salty-sweet, and addictive that you’ll need a few extra for the walk. As long as it doesn’t rain, your afternoon is set.

Alexandra Marshall is a contributing editor and the Paris correspondent at Travel & Leisure. Food, design, architecture and fashion are her specialties, which means, living in Paris, that she is very busy. You can follow her on Twitter at @alexmabroad and on Instagram @alexandra3465.