While dreaming of your Paris vacation, you’ve probably thought about sipping Champagne at cafes, shopping through French markets, and eating at the most romantic restaurants. But have you considered a picnic in Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower?
Don’t miss out on this unique, laid-back experience. In this article, I’ll share how to picnic at the Eiffel Tower, including what to bring, where to pick up supplies, and the best views.
What is the Champ de Mars?
The Champ de Mars is the largest public greenspace in Paris. This massive park sprawls from the Eiffel Tower at the northwest end to École Militaire at the southwest boundary. This park was also the main site for the 1878 World’s Fair and is still a gathering place for people from every corner of the globe.
Today, there are tons of activities and things to do in the park, including pony rides, flower gardens, and walking paths. Champ de Mars is also the go-to place to watch the tower’s nightly twinkling lights. During a visit to Champ de Mars, you can see everything from marriage proposals to outdoor yoga classes.
Best of all, it’s the perfect spot for a leisurely picnic with up-close views of the Eiffel Tower.
Why should I have a picnic in Champ de Mars?
Picnicking is a favorite pastime for Parisians. Because most apartments and homes in Paris are small, Parisians love spending lunchtime and weekend afternoons eating and socializing in parks, including the Champ de Mars.
I’ve seen everything from office workers eating quick sandwiches to families hauling out dining chairs and tables for birthday celebrations. Having a picnic is the perfect way to experience a slice of French life, take a break from a busy sightseeing schedule and see the Eiffel Tower from a new angle.
Best seasons for an Eiffel Tower picnic
Like visiting the Eiffel Tower, a picnic in the Champ de Mars is always a good idea, no matter the season. However, some seasons offer advantages when it comes to picnics.
Once spring arrives, Parisians head outdoors, so expect the Champ de Mars to be filled with locals and visitors.
Despite the crowds, spring is my favorite time for picnicking near the Eiffel Tower. From March to June, the views of the tower are even better, thanks to the fresh green grass, flowers, and cherry blossoms that fill Champ de Mars. Spring weather can be unpredictable in Paris. Days can alternate between rain showers, chilly temperatures, and heat waves. So check the forecast closely before settling on a day for your spring picnic.
Summer weather is more predictable, but the crowds are heavier during peak tourist season. More people in the park means even better people-watching, which can make for a more entertaining picnic.
Fall is also a lovely time for an Eiffel Tower picnic. The weather may call for a coat and scarf, but smaller crowds mean it will be easy to find a spot to spread your picnic blanket.
Sadly, in the winter, some of the grassy lawns of Champ de Mar may be fenced off to prevent people from trampling the grass. However, you should still be able to find a spot to sit at the edges of the park or on a bench.
Best days and times for a Champ de Mars picnic
When does your tummy start to rumble? That’s the best time to spread out for a bite to eat in front of the Eiffel Tower! But a picnic is more about the experience than just feeding yourself, so it makes sense to think about the time of day you’ll arrive.
A lunchtime picnic is an ideal way to break up a day of sightseeing. Many Parisians eat lunch outdoors around 1-2 p.m., so if you arrive around 11 a.m. or noon, you will miss some of the crowds. Champ de Mar is also a popular after-school hangout for teens, so expect to see more young people in the park starting at 4:30 p.m.
My favorite time to picnic at the Eiffel Tower is in the evening. I love arriving just in time for sunset, watching the sky soften and fade into darkness, and seeing the first display of the hourly twinkling lights.
Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday are the most popular times for a Champ de Mar picnic. If you love people-watching as much as I do, weekends are the time to go. But if you want the best selection of spots and views, choose a weekday for your picnic. Parisian children don’t attend school on Wednesday afternoon, so the park is usually filled with families on that day.
Food for your Eiffel Tower picnic
What’s a picnic without food? Without some yummy bites, you’re just sitting in the grass. You can go the easy route and pick up a sandwich or crepe from one of the kiosks located right in the Champ de Mar. Many delis and cafes also offer prepacked picnics.
During the late spring and summer, Milagro offers Picnics To Go packages featuring meat, cheese, salad, wine, and dessert. Best of all, Milagro is just a hop, skip, and jump from Champ de Mars, so you won’t need to lug your picnic across the city.
However, I prefer to pack my own picnic by selecting fresh, local specialties. My favorite picnic foods are delicious, easy to eat, and aren’t messy. They’re also not hard to find at most French markets, including several convenient to the Eiffel Tower, just a metro ride or walk away. (More on where to shop for your French picnic supplies below.)
Here’s what I usually pack:
- A fresh baguette
- A selection of cheeses such as comté, chèvre (soft goat cheese), and camembert
- Fruit spreads, such as fig or apricot
- Seasonal fruits like grapes or strawberries
- Charcuterie or cured meats, such as prosciutto or salami
- Meat spreads like a terrine or pâté
- Bite-sized vegetables, such as grape tomatoes
- Pastries, such as a slice of opéra cake, tartlets (savory or sweet), and a few macarons
Shopping for Eiffel Tower picnic food at a grocery store
If you are a foodie like me, shopping for delicious nibbles will be just as fun as the picnic.
For one-stop shopping, head to Le Grande Épicerie. This gourmet grocery shop is part of the famed La Bon Marche department store.
Getting to Champ de Mars from Le Grande Épicerie is easy. Hop on metro line 10 from the Sevres – Babylone station to the La Motte – Picquet Grenelle station. Once at the shop, you will find everything you need for a luxurious picnic. Le Grande Epicerie features a bakery, pastry shop, massive cheese selection, and a wide variety of premade sandwiches and salads.
The downside to Le Grande Épicerie is its price point. For gourmet, you’ll be paying a bit more than you would at your average grocery store. If you’re looking for a thriftier place to picnic shop, I recommend the Carrefour City, located at 42 Avenue de la Motte Picquet. This petite grocery store is next to École Militaire at the southwest end of Champ de Mars.
Carrefour City is well stocked with fresh bread, chilled drinks (including wine,) premade sandwiches, fresh fruits, and paper goods. This market also has a respectable cheese selection so that you can have an authentic Parisian food experience without the heavy price tag.
Shopping for Champ de Mars picnic foods at local shops
Parisians adore shopping for food in small, local shops. If you prefer to shop like a local, you have a few options.
First, head to Rue Cler. This famous market street is open from Tuesday to Saturday and is a hit with visitors and locals. Along both sides of the road, you’ll find a wide range of specialty stores, such as cheese shops, bakeries, chocolatiers, and delis.
There’s so much here I love, but these are my favorites you shouldn’t miss:
- Charcuterie Jeusselin for sliced meats and savory foods
- A La Mere de Famille for chocolates
- Le Repaire de Bacchus for wine
Rue Cler is less than a 10-minute walk from Champ de Mars.
Another option for your Eiffel Tower picnic is shopping at an open-air food market.
Like a farmer’s market, Paris’s open-air markets feature vendor stalls selling fruits, vegetables, flowers, prepared foods, and everything else you can imagine.
Each neighborhood has its own market, which pops up two days a week. The closest to the Eiffel Tower is the Grenelle Market, which is open on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. I recommend picking up a roasted chicken and potatoes cooked in the drippings. The Grenelle Market is located on Boulevard de Grenelle, a 10-minute walk from Champ de Mars.
What else to bring for an Eiffel Tower picnic
Aside from food, you will need a handful of other things for the perfect Eiffel Tower picnic.
Most importantly, you will want a picnic blanket. Of course, you can sit directly in the grass (and you will see many people doing just that.) I don’t personally enjoy soggy pants from sitting on damp ground, so I always pack a thin, lightweight, waterproof blanket that folds down into a pocket-sized pouch. If you don’t want to squeeze a picnic blanket into your luggage, pick up a tablecloth or oversized scarf anywhere in Paris.
Other than a picnic blanket, you will want:
- Plastic glasses
- Wine opener
- Disposable cutlery
- Sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen (There is little shade in Champ de Mars.)
- Reusable shopping bag to pack everything in
The best meal at the Eiffel Tower
After three years of living in Paris, I still think picnicking at Champ de Mars is the best way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon. When I host guests, I always take them for an evening of munching on cheese and baguettes at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
I think a picnic is one of the best meals you can have at the Eiffel Tower, the perfect pick-me-up after a guided climb to the second floor (or an energizer before your climb).
But sometimes you might not feel like a casual meal on the lawn. For something completely — and I do mean completely different — try the Jules Verne Restaurant inside the Eiffel Tower. It’s fancy, luxurious, and definitely not a meal where you’ll be using plastic spoons. Read our guide to the Jules Verne Restaurant for tips on what to expect.