the humble joys of a picnic

by Sharon Santoni


the humble joys of a picnic- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

The full verison of this piece originally appeared in the May/June issue of the My French Country Home Magazine. To order the magazine in digital or print, click HERE.

May and June are the ideal months to picnic in France. The weather is warm without being hot, the month of May is full of bank holidays and long weekends, and the French naturally lean into this first taste of the summer season that is just beyond the horizon.

the humble joys of a picnic- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

On paper, a picnic is just transferring a civilised sit-down meal from the comfort of table and chairs to the relative discomfort and inconvenience of having to transport everything required, set it up in a practical manner then sit down on the ground to eat. But in reality, we know the experience of a picnic is much more than that.

the humble joys of a picnic- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

Food is best kept as finger food, light bites that can be snacked on when hunger strikes, and easily packed up into individual portions. Little pot parfaits are an elegant option for both transporting and eating food in. Fresh red fruit topped with a macaron or shortbread make a truly delightful dessert.

the humble joys of a picnic- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

Summers may pass in the blink of an eye, but there should always be a moment to slow down, and partake in the simple pleasure of a picnic.


If you loved this and want to read the rest of this article, plus much more, be sure to subscribe to MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME MAGAZINE!


Lenore June 3, 2019 - 4:21 pm

I must have missed it. I am getting the digital magazine but would also like to receive it in print. How do I go about that?
Loved this post on picnics…some of my favorite gatherings.
Thank you

Molly @ MFCH June 4, 2019 - 7:08 pm

Hi Lenore,
You should have received an email from us on May 15th with a special code to enter at checkout. Take a look and if you don’t see us, please email Thanks so much for being a client!
Molly @ MFCH

Teresa Pepler June 3, 2019 - 4:51 pm

Still waiting for this issue to be send to me.

Molly @ MFCH June 4, 2019 - 7:10 pm

Dear Teresa,
Thank you so much for your order! We placed the order with the printers this week so they should be in the mail to you shortly. Thank you for your patience with this exciting transition to print.
Best regards,
Molly @ MFCH

Ida Duplechin June 3, 2019 - 6:20 pm

Thank you for such a pleasant article. My terrace is almost completed and I will be able to breakfast there soon. That will be my daily picnic. Looking forward to my next trip to France; need info on your tours.

Molly @ MFCH June 4, 2019 - 7:12 pm

Hi Ida, We are so happy you enjoyed the article. It certainly was a pleasure to put together. We’ll send you an email with our tour dates. Hope to see you in France soon!
Best wishes,
Molly @ MFCH

Penny Kweder June 3, 2019 - 7:08 pm

If you bring chairs to your picnic, and even a low table, you can even be comfortable! We do this in the evening at the beach, for cocktails. As people leave the beach they comment how smart we look! : )

betsy June 3, 2019 - 8:09 pm

Beautiful picnic. Outside in nature by a stream or water. Food goes down so much easier when relaxing like this. No stress.

Yvonne June 3, 2019 - 8:40 pm

Looks like a lovely spot for a picnic by the water!
One of our favorite spots for a picnic is at a Boston Symphony concert on the lawn of Tanglewood on a Sunday afternoon. Of course, France is my all time favorite! love receiving your blog.

Colleen Taylor June 3, 2019 - 9:43 pm

This is quite a lovely picnic feast Sharon. I’ll have to save these ideas for the late fall when it’s not so hot outside.

BonnieWood June 3, 2019 - 11:16 pm

We like to eat either on our front porch or the back deck. Both are really cool. We have a very long bike path near the river in our city here, love walking it. We meet other walking enthusiasts or cyclists and everyone is always pleasant. Never mind all the dogs!!! We met one today, his name was Nigel. Cute as a button.

Natalie June 4, 2019 - 12:01 am

Thank you for the inspiration! It’s been so long since I have had a picnic, but it’s in my mind to do very soon.

david terry June 4, 2019 - 9:58 pm

Hmmmm… experiences in France over the years is that, while picnics have always been very pleasant/enjoyable, it would be a cold day in hell before any of my French in-laws or their friends would sit on the ground on some tablecloth. Consequently…..there was always a LOT of hauling, as though Elizabeth I were going on a royal progress through the home counties.

Not entirely by the way?…..there’s a wonderful book (presumably out of print, long ago) titled “The Picnic Papers” (published 1984). It’s basically a compendium of short reminiscences by various celebrities and British aristocrats (none of whom were necessarily engaging writers, for all the obvious reasons). In short, it’s a perhaps-accidental hoot (these folks all take themselves quite seriously, on one of the most frivolous of topics)

Someone got the bright idea of inviting dotty Princess Margaret to contribute an essay. Surprisingly, she agreed; at 500 words, it remains the longest public/published statement she ever made, and includes the stern directive “In my opinion, picnics should always be eaten at table and sitting on a chair”.

Catty old James Lee Milnes also contributed his essay: “I Loathe Picnics”…….in which he made it clear that “It may be hereditary. My parents also loathed them as much as they disliked each other, and certainly as much as they disliked us”.
For better or worse, these are the class/circle of folks I knew during my years at Oxford and France. I could never determine why they were so determined to throw picnics when they so obviously didn’t enjoy them. It was all a far cry from my childhood, when we’d just pack up cold fried chicken, country ham sandwiches, a couple of cold salads, cold cornbread (fine with butter), two thermoses of iced tea, my younger brother’s benadryl,…….and head up into the mountains, where we’d always have our picnics by one of the many waterfalls in that area of East Tennessee. Oh, I forgot……the BEST part was that my mother always packed a loaf of white sandwich bread, a jar of mayonnaise, fresh tomatoes from the garden, and fried bacon wrapped in wax-paper. My job, at age 9 or so was to slice tomatoes and make bacon, lettuce, and a tomato sandwiches for everyone. I think it’s the first “Recipe” I ever learned to make.

In any case, you and my parents’ picnics sound like a great deal more fun than Princess Margaret’s or my former mother-in-law’s….

Level best as ever,

david terry
quail roost farm
rougemont, nc

Botanic Bleu June 5, 2019 - 4:54 am

In the ’80s and ’90s when I traveled to France each summer as a chaperone with high school students, we always included a picnic sometime during the trip. We would have the students shop at the local grocery stores and delicatessens in whatever town we were in the morning of our picnic. Then we set off on the bus to our next destination and stopped enroute at lunch time to have a picnic. Lots of fond memories of picnicking in France with the most scenic and historic backgrounds.

These photos are beautiful settings for a memorable French picnic.


linda rice June 17, 2019 - 10:24 pm

Love you and thank you for all of your beautiful & thoughtful blogs, but I have not recieved my copy of your mag. and am looking forward to it very much .

Sandra T, June 19, 2019 - 6:46 am

I have a beautiful straw picnic case that has real china, silver, and cups with lots of room for goodies. I kept searching for one at stores-the nice ones start at $150! One weekend, I went to an antique fair and found my lovely picnic case for $50, completely furnished! The seller couldn’t believe that I wanted that “old thing”. Everytime I take it on an outing, I feel like Grace Kelly in It Takes A Thief-even though my Honda Element has to stand in for her amazing teal colored Sunbeam. Your pictures are just beautiful!

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Ann May 13, 2022 - 7:39 pm

Your photos are so beautiful and I was so inspired by your post today. I’m going to share it over on my blog this weekend linking to you of course. Have a fabulous weekend.

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