A Brief History of…Picnics

On the occasion of the giant picnic to be held on the Champs-Élysées on May 26th, here is a brief history of the déjeuner sur l’herbe.


On Sunday, May 26th, more than 4,000 people will gather to picnic on the Champs-Élysées. The participants, who were selected by lottery on May 21st, will not need to bring their checkered tablecloths or prepare their sandwiches to visit the most beautiful avenue in the world. Picnic baskets will be distributed to all guests. To delight this immense gathering, 8 pop-up kitchens run by local restaurateurs have been mobilized. Based on a common set of specifications, these restaurateurs will offer their own take on picnic essentials such as the ham and butter sandwich.


On the occasion of this great event, let’s look back at the history of a gastronomic practice much appreciated by the French.


On May 26th, 4,000 lucky participants will have the chance to picnic on the Champs-Élysées


From the Middle Ages to the canvases of the Impressionists


Today, the picnic is synonymous with a nature escape and moments of conviviality around simple but comforting dishes. It is a moment of relaxation that offers a unique atmosphere.


The practice of déjeuner sur l’herbe itself dates back to the Middle Ages. Working in the fields, peasants would often take their meals outdoors. This was also true for the nobility during hunting parties or while traveling.


During the Renaissance, aristocrats kept this habit and enjoyed moments outdoors, like Queen Catherine de Medici, who occasionally had a table set in the middle of the Tuileries Gardens to entertain high society.


The term “picnic” finally appeared in the 18th century. The word “pique” comes from the verb “piquer,” meaning to pick or peck, and “nique” referred to a “little thing of no value.” In Les Confessions (1782) by Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, he mentions a “dîner en pique-nique” with Abbé de Condillac.


Click here to read the entire article on Luxus Magazine.


Featured photo: © Le déjeuner sur l’herbe – Edouard Manet

Picture of Charline Point
Charline Point
Passionate about art in all its forms, Charline Point is a young journalist driven by fierce curiosity and a keen appetite for culture. After several years in press relations, Charline decided to take up a career in journalism. Her favorite subjects are travel, gastronomy, cinema and fashion.

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