I have been lucky enough to spend my birthday a number of times in Paris. Once I celebrated with champagne and a tiny, exquisite cake+candle, on the balcony of our apartment, watching the sun set over the iconic rooftops of Paris. Another time a wonderful friend of mine organised my birthday on a tree topped hill with a stunning view in Parc des Butte Chaumont (19th arrondissement): more champagne, smoked salmon, baguettes, a huge wedge of Chabichou du Poitou and luscious strawberries bought that morning from the market in Boulevard Richard Lenoir . The day was divine – surrounded by nannies and their tiny charges, school children, lovers , and lovers of the outdoors. We walked off our lunch, strolling over the suspended bridge, past the spectacular waterfall and caves and up to the” Belvedere” (Temple de la Sibylle) perched at the top of a cliff above the lake. No better way to spend your birthday than in this beautiful, peaceful green haven.
The other place in Paris worth packing up a picnic for is Parc Monceau. In the 8th arrondissement, surrounded by elegant 2nd empire mansions and great wrought iron gates embellished with gold, we found many beautiful surprises: numerous statues of famous French figures including Guy de Maupassant and Frédéric Chopin; a classical colonnade; a collection of “follies” (including an Egyptian pyramid, a Chinese fort and a Dutch windmill); spectacular trees; a large pond, and plenty of places to stop and have a picnic. One lazy Sunday in Paris, we bought exquisite jewel coloured pastries (Tarte au Citron and Éclair au Chocolate) in the great little Rue de Levis street market, found ourselves a quiet corner of the park, and watched the world go by.