This is the peak season of the year to picnic in Paris, and this business seems not to experience the French gloom at all. Walk around the improvised picnic areas in Paris any evening and you'll see them occupied by 20ers and 30ers busy partying and chatting, drinking booze in a generally pacified manner. Girls make a good share of the public and the youth in general are too happy to take advantage of a nice freedom that makes this city a nice place to live.
As I wrote earlier, several reasons explain this surge in the use by the young people of public space to have dinner or apéritif together. First, eating out is not cheap in Paris, and with Twitter or Facebook you can set up a flash party without bothering if the venue will have room for every one. Latecomers can join the fray, they just bring a few things to eat and a bottle, or nothing, it doesn't really matter, there will be usually enough for everyone.
Then, with joblessness at 26 % among the French under 25, you don't go out that much (I mean in restaurants and the likes), so, with these wonderful postcard settings at easy reach where you can just sit and unpack you dinner and drinks, who needs these bars and restaurants ? Life is beautiful...
No, let's be serious now, smoking is not a good thing, even if we shouldn't think always in terms of health and so on, but they should indeed try to rein in this habit.
Here again, the strict laws against smoking in restaurants and bars may add with the rest in the motives of these young people who find more convenient and cheap to just sit in a cool place and enjoy their friends. But again, our health-conscious lawmakers are devising a general interdiction in such recreational areas.
Beyond the innocent peace perspering from this picture, there's an important clue to solve this issue : look at the purple blind behind the tree on the other side of the canal, this is no less than Le Verre Volé, a now-famous wine restaurant which is also a wine shop (as the sign pictured on the left says, "we are also a wine shop"), making indeed this section of the Canal Saint-Martin the best place in town to improvise a picnic.
Le Verre Volé has a price to go and a price to drink the bottle in the restaurant (with cork fee), and the wine choice will definitely be better than the one of the Franprix food mart nearby.
Just cross the footbridge and help yourself with the knowledgeable staff of Le Verre Volé, you should find a bottle in the range of 7 to 10 € (maybe no need to spend too much for a picnic) for example a bottle from Estézargues or Villemade, although the Villemade Cheverny red was alas sold out the last time I went there, and I opted for a Rhone by Elodie Balme (picture on right as a Verre-Volé staff grabbed the bottle for me), Elodie being a young vintner who makes very nice wines there.
To complement the wine I walked nearby to Le Verre Volé with Yuichiro to show him the venue and I bought this bottle of Rhone by Elodie Balme, which I thought was a good after drink following the deliciously spicy Pineau d'Aunis (the Patapon, by Christian Chaussard). There were already patrons in the restaurant but the staff nonetheless helped me the best he could to choose a bottle according to my budget and taste (I wanted an easy-drinking red).
Junko who doesn't drink much alcohol loved Patapon and I told her that the wine was imported in Japan where it had its cult followers too. Yuichiro (who drinks easily) loved this Patapon too, as well as Elodie's Rhone table wine 2011, and I told him about the wine shop in Nishi Nippori where he'll find it when back in Tokyo in a few months. I can't tell about the Chidaine wine because I tried not to mix too much of different drinks and colors, it was apparently a wine with a bit of residual sugar but it still won applause among the party.
Mustafa joined us later, after we told him over the phone where we were sitting, and as unlikely as you might think by reading his first name, Mustafa eats pork and drinks wine, certainly a common feature in Kabylie, a region of Algeria where local ways resisted along the centuries to the arab-muslim rule. He brought along a bottle of Coteaux de Tlemcen, which reminds us that Algeria still makes wine, if in a less favorable climate and mostly through coop-size state wineries. The wine wasn't the most applauded that evening but it was better than expected.
Iki beer, first, is a Japanese hefeweiss beer made also with Yuzu and green tea. the beer is smooth, onctuous and delicious, with 4,5 ° in alcohol. It doesn't seem really Japanese and it seems to come from Holland.
The Coedo beer on the other hand is a truly Japanese beer, it's made in the Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo. This brewery also has a more expensive beer, Benakia, which is made out of local sweet potatoes. Coedo is the queen of Japanese beers, Yuichiro says. The beer is smooth and delicate, this one at least as he says that they have other, more bitter, brews. I look forward to tasting more of this brewery, possibly when in Japan as a bottle here costs no less than 5 €.
We had also lots of cherries, I mean real cherries, not ones from a shop as Mustafa has a house with garden outside Paris with a cherry tree on it, and I myself brougt back cerises from the Loire. I take the oppoprtunity to say that this is an incredible year for cherries, as if the cherry trees wanted to compensate last year's non-existent fruit load. This year there were so many cherries in my place in the Loire that the tree itself dropped many of them when still green (a few weeks ago), as if realizing that it wouldn't be able to feed them all. And still, now that the ripening time have come, the tree is still covered with a generous mantle of fruit...
With Le Verre Volé at 67 rue de Lancry on the other side of the canal and this Franprix at 110 quai de Jemmapes, you have everything you need with an easy walk, except maybe good bread that you can source near Le Verre Volé. You can even excuse yourself and say that you need another bottle, using Le Verre Volé as your cellar (they close late).
As a photographer I can say that the view is perfect for shooting scenes and situations, and just within a few minutes the other day and all the while chatting with B. and Tuichiro who had already arrived, I spotted this anonymous smile [at me ! ] from a passing woman holding a bouquet of flowers, and this couple travelling on a single bicycle who knows where. If we hadn't this dinner spot to find before others grab it, I'd had stayed there more time...