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Paris is the city for picnics.

Especially if you’re on a budget, like we were. That expensive date to a Michelin restaurant followed by a night at the opera and a hotel room with a champagne-filled bathtub will have to wait, I suppose. I don’t think we ever set foot in a nice restaurant, but we ate excellent meals nonetheless.

Picnics are very personal affairs, dictated by your own style and hunger level. They can be anything from a pre-planned basket lovingly packed with a tablecloth and matching napkins to a hasty market run for some munchies. All you need is good food, a pretty place to eat it, and someone to share the view with. And even those things are negotiable. It really all comes down to good food.

The first day in Paris we walked down a side street and saw these stores, all lined up: Fromagerie, Charcuterie, Boulangerie, and Vin. Cheese, meat, bread and wine? Perfect.

The results, which we ate for the next few days in various locations. Across from Notre Dame, near the Eiffel Tower, and on top of Montmarte:

Sometimes our picnic was just a hot dog. Of course, in Paris, “just” a hot dog is actually two sausages in a fresh baguette with mustard. Delicious when washed down with Fanta and eaten while people-watching in the Tuilieries Garden.

The final touch to a perfect picnic is something sweet. Any patisserie will offer plenty of options to set you drooling, but here’s what we chose.

1) Giant Meringue.  I don’t know if there’s an official name for these, but they are genius. It’s like eating solid cotton candy that crumbles inside your mouth before it melts away. The flavor from the picture (top picture, second from left item) is cassis, but vanilla was proclaimed Jesse’s favorite on a later day.

2) Macarons. Such a Parisian treat! It’s funny that both the French people we couchsurfed with mentioned that they didn’t prefer macarons. Too sweet, they said. They’re crazy, I say. I fell in love with the treats at Pix Patisserie in Portland, so I couldn’t wait to try the real thing. The most famous shop is Ladurée, a fancy baroque-encrusted café on the Champs Élysées. We chose four flavors: Cassis, Pistachio, Caramel with Fleur de Sel, and Orange Blossom. Not only are they delicious but they are beautiful, like little jewels. I carried them around for awhile before eating them, feeling like I had a beautiful treasure stashed away.

And there you have it. Just a few ingredients for your perfect Parisian picnic. Feel free to switch the wine out for Champagne or bottled water, the Comte cheese for a good Brie, and the macaron for a chocolate truffle. It really doesn’t matter what’s in your picnic. The key is to enjoy it.

Bon Appétit!

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