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What to take on a traditional French picnic

PUBLISHED: 15:56 12 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:40 14 June 2017

A traditional French picinc © AlexRaths / Thinkstockphotos

A traditional French picinc © AlexRaths / Thinkstockphotos


As you would expect the French take picnics very seriously. Find out what to pack in your hamper so you can enjoy a traditional French picnic too

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The key to a French pique-nique is of course a good choice of bread. Choose a freshly baked baguette, picked up that morning from the boulangerie, or a flavoured bread like a fougasse – a Provençal flatbread flavoured with rosemary, olives or lardons. Sliced pain de campagne or pain aux céréales makes a good base (tartine) for a topping.


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Pack plenty of cured meats – jambon, saucisson, rosette – which make tasty sandwiches, and some jars of terrines, rillettes and pâté to spread on slices of bread. The French love to crunch cornichons (gherkins) with those.

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Cheese always makes excellent picnic supplies. Either break off chunks of hard cheese like Comté, Cantal, Abondance or Tome de Savoie to nibble on, or take a creamy, soft type to spread, like a chèvre frais (fresh goat’s cheese) or a blue cheese.


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While the Brits have coleslaw, the French have their own take on grated raw veg. Carottes râpées – shredded carrot doused in a tangy vinaigrette – is a firm favourite which you might see eaten alongside remoulade, shredded celeriac in a creamy sauce. Tomatoes are eaten whole, like a fruit, and radishes are also crunched whole, sometimes with a little bit of butter.


A staple for the French lunch, quiche is a real people pleaser. Buttery pastry filled with an egg, cream, cheese and bacon mix, quiche lorraine can be eaten hot or cold so is a great addition to any French picnic.


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Savoury cakes

Another great addition to a French picnic are savoury cakes, which the French simply call ‘cake’. A ham, sun-dried tomato and olive cake is one of the most popular.

Sweet treats

The more elaborate French desserts are tricky to take in a hamper so opt for fresh fruit – grapes, figs, peaches, apricots, strawberries – and small cakes like madeleines or biscuits or even a tarte tatin, cooked the night before.


A French picnic wouldn’t be French without the odd bottle of wine. In the summer, you’ll often see families place bottles of rosé and white wine in the cooling waters of a stream running by their picnic spot.


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