This is the high season again for picnics along the Seine in Paris. Temperatures have been in the low 30s' (°C) since the end of june (it's been cooling a bit recently though) and this brought even more people on the river banks for what has become a typical summer outing in Paris.
After a hot day at work (air conditionning is still rare here) and commutes in the moist and somehow stinky Paris Metro, the evening brings a welcome respite, especially near the water. Parks are fine, but the Seine is even better. With the long days and clear skies, who needs to be indoors anyway ? If going out to the restaurants is an option, the prospect of sitting and waiting orders in a poorly ventilated dining room puts off many. The terraces are already better but even there it's hot late as the pavement and buildings stored the heat of the sun and give it back long after the sun has lowered on the horizon.
And frankly, once you have experienced a picnic along the Seine with your dear one or with friends, there's hardly a terrace (even a prestigious one) to beat it. Along the Seine and its banks, the cobblestones and cement also reverberate the heat of the sun, but there's a gentle breeze that makes a difference, the water acting as a natural cooler.
But interns and other mininmum-wage employees are not the only ones to be careful when they go out. Speaking of dining in town, you know that restaurant bills maybe high in Paris, especially if you let yourself order a bottle of wine, and another one when you feel well. What looks like a cool neighborhood restaurant often ends costing you much more than envisionned. Here, no more worry, no self-limiting discipline, no cork fee and no bad surprise at the end of the dinner...
With Paris sights as you know it, there's a wide choice of nice spots to set up the picnic sheet and lay down with your bottle of wine and saucisson, but you must dismiss the freeway stretches that spoil the quietness here and there along the river. that still lets many top locations to enjoy your unique improvised table with view on Paris.
The most sought-after sites are maybe along the banks of the Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint Louis, the two islands on the Seine near the Latin Quarter. People step down from the Metro or the RER at Chatelet or Saint Michel, or they just walk down from the nearby Sorbonne and other universities after a stop at a grocery store. You get to make a few preparations to succeed your Seine picnic, like buying the needed food and drinks and ideally preparing a big refreshing salad with everything in it. The important thing here is to have enough liquids and solids, there's nothing worse than a party without fuel. The food and the wine aren't usually chosen too meticulously, you're here primarily to be together, enjoy the cool air and have fun. The food store chain where you bought your stuff is not a gourmet store, but, well, you still spot all sort of wines on the picnic sheets, rosés of course, sparklings like Crémants or Méthodes Traditionelles and many regions for the reds. I didn't pay attention this time but remember spotting a Chinon and a Corbières.
I had parked the motorcycle on the Ile Saint Louis near the Pont Saint Louis, a pedestrian bridge which connects to Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cité and where musicians or street artists often entertain strollers. There's also the Berthillon terrace selling icecreams and sorbets near this bridge with the usual long queue of amateurs (the plan on the website shows the mai shop in the middle of Ile Saint Louis but the surroundings are nicer at their other shop near the bridge). I'm not personally too much into icecreams or sorbets but we followed this tradition after our dinner as the night had come and waited in line for a cornet.
We walked around near the river, first on the high-perched street overlooking the Seine and what amounted to a crowd of picnickers. People are sitting and laying on the most relaxed way with sometimes a large cloth as table sheet and a semi-improvised menu with quite a diverse and generous wine list, each in the group having sometimes brought his/her bottle. OK, most of the time they're not the wines we dream of, but hey, remember these journalists and experts who said the young French didn't drink wine ? Most people here were in their twenties or early thirties and it seemed to me that no wine type was forgotten, from the light Muscadets to the powerful Rhônes...