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Rules and Regulations for Picnicking in Paris

Whether you are planning a relaxing family lunch or a romantic dinner, it is best to be aware of the rules and etiquette when using Paris parks. Here are a few tips to keep you out of trouble and make sure the police do not interrupt your picnic:

Alcohol in parks: Though you will often see people sipping glasses of wine in the public parks, be aware that it is mostly illegal to do this and as this is France, occasionally enforced. Here’s a great explanation for where and why this rule is applied.

grass2Sitting on the grass: You are not allowed to sit or play on the grass in many of the popular parks and gardens in Paris. If you sneak over a fence, don’t be surprised if an angry park employee comes after you blowing his whistle and shooting in French. While this might be an interesting French lesson, we suggest you look for signs that say it is ok to sit or that the grass is resting (and therefore, you cannot sit on it) before spreading out your picnic blanket.  If you see “Pelouse interdite” or “Pelouse au repos” keep off the grass.

Dogs in parks: While dogs are welcome in many bakeries, cafes, shops and bars, most Paris parks have large signs posted at their entrances saying, pas de chien, même tenus en laisse (no dogs – even on a leash). Traveling with your pet? Here is a useful list of which parks allow dogs.

litterLittering: Though it feels like this rule is never enforced, there is a 35EU fine for littering in Paris and the city has been running a huge anti-littering campaign for the past few years. Even if there’s nearly no chance you’ll get fined, still pick-up after yourself if only to be nice to the others who use the park.

Smoking in parks: For now it is legal to smoke cigarettes in Paris parks, but that may soon change. The French Health Minister recently proposed a ban on smoking in parks, university campuses, beaches, and in front of schools. For now you are safe, but you may want to double check before lighting up in the coming months.

Free wifi: While you cannot drink, sit or walk your dog in Paris parks, you can check your email for free. The city has installed free wifi in most the parks. Here is a step-by-step explanation for how to access it.

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a bois (woods), jardin (garden), and parc (park)? All are green outdoor spaces and the difference is their size. Bois is the largest, followed by jardin, and then medium-sized parks. There are also places (squares). Not all places are green, but some are such as the Place des Vosges.

Why not have your next private French lesson at one of Paris’ famous parks? We promise to help you learn the French grammar and park rules! Contact us now.

Photo of the Paris Diner en Blanc by Jonathan Evans and from the City of Paris.