The Perfect Picnic

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A warm, sunny spring weekend is the perfect excuse to pack up a picnic basket and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you set out on a long hike, find a sheltered spot on the beach, drive to a local park or simply lay out a blanket in your garden, a picnic done well can be pure bliss.

We have a sign around here that the days are getting longer and the mercury is climbing; the big horse with his bright blue painted cart appears in a nearby village. He is put away for the winter but a couple of weeks ago he was back in his spot, standing as proudly as ever. In a few weeks time the rapeseed all around him will have ben cut and his cart will be filled with flowers which the locals tend and care for.

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Whether you’re enjoying the first days of really warm sun or finding your scarves and cherishing the colours of autumn in the southern hemisphere, a picnic lunch is always welcome. There’s no denying it, food eaten outdoors always tastes better. Picnics should be about having fun and relaxing.

We have just a few rules: real cutlery and avoid paper plates, they always go soggy or blow away in the wind! A pretty rug is a must for atmosphere and simple food with fresh ingredients. P6080209

The Menu

Chilled rosé, lemonade and sparkling water
Baguettes
A selection of French cheeses
Saucisson
Homemade hummus, (two flavours; garlic and red pepper)
Quiche (two flavours; ham and leek, and mushroom)
Salad (Keep the dressing separate, no one wants a limp lettuce leaf!)
Olives
Hard boiled eggs
Pâté
Carrot and celery sticks
Some fresh fruit

and a real surprise for dessert!

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Whether you buy store bought pâtés or make your own, (homemade smoked mackerel is my absolute favourite) store them in little Kilner jars, they look so pretty and transport easily. P6080266

Bring along a few essential items:

Kitchen paper and a rubbish bag
a corkscrew
a sharp knife
and a small chopping board.

And if you’re in France you can buy your wine by the glass, as I spotted in Carrefour supermarket by the beach yesterday and the cutest mini bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, some also flavoured with a touch of lemon, just 2″ tall they are perfect individual portions!IMG_6635

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Choose your location carefully and consider the angles, make sure the view is good in all directions, especially when you are lying on your back looking up at the sky!

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and don’t forget a small container for water if you bring your favourite four legged friends along!

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And then we come to what our children always consider the best part, the dessert, and I have a little trick that will make you a legend among picnickers. Eton Mess.

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I get lots of emails about meringues, they seem to have this stigma about them that says they are difficult, time consuming etc.  I gave the tips and recipes in my post, The Simplicity of Food, but a simple rule of thumb is: twice the sugar to egg whites. So if you’re using 4 large egg whites then you will need 8 ounces of sugar.  The trick is in the beating. Beat the whites until stiff, add the sugar slowly and then continue to beat for several minutes until the mixture is very stiff and stands in peaks. If there is one thing not to cheat with, it is meringues, the store-bought ones are very dry and taste like sweet cardboard, there simply is no comparison. I cheat on all sorts of things when I am in a rush, I buy pastry if I have little time, a jar of organic tomato sauce if I have none left in the freezer and I have no qualms about doing so, but I won’t cheat on meringues!

What makes this dessert so easy is that it can be broken or squashed during transit, it doesn’t matter a jot, no special care and attention is required.

Bring a whole meringue, (which can be made a couple of days in advance), a tub of strawberries and a carton of double cream.

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When the time comes for the sweet treat at the end of the meal, break up and smush the meringue in plastic cups to serve.

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Add a good dollop or two of cream

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and the fruit of your choice, we chose strawberries because the local ones are in season right now.

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Sit back, savour and enjoy!

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Our picnic was under the spreading chestnut tree in the garden, the petals fell like confetti all around us. Sadly I was in a rush to take Gigi to tennis, but the others remained after we had left, lying back on the blanket, listening to music and chatting for a good hour, just as weekends and lazy days during the holidays should be. I hope you are having a fabulous weekend and that this has given you a few ideas for the perfect picnic!

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142 thoughts on “The Perfect Picnic

  • Wow! This looks idyllic! Hopefully it will warm up enough here, in cloudy Wales, for some picnics very soon!

    • Hopefully it will and when it does you will be well prepared! I think it is maybe a British thing, we just love eating outdoors whenever we have a decent day and some sun! Hope you have a lovely Sunday despite the clouds! Xx

    • Hi Jacky, in France we either buy a cream Entiere, which I then whip and put into a tub, I find so long as it is cold it thickens very well, or at other times we buy a tub of Creme Fraiche which is like a very slightly sour cream, but it is thick and comes in a perfect sized tub! I am not sure where you are, but if I can help further let me know, I have experimented with all types of creams here to find the perfect one! Xx

  • Very timely, we are on vacation in the south of France, the weather is beautiful, I shall look out for those mini dressings and even in our rental I think I can make the meringue. Just one question as I know cream is different here do you think this would work with the French crème fraîche?

    • Creme Fraiche is a very slightly sour cream, it is not the same as a fresh cream in the USA or UK, however, I find it works very well with this as the meringue is already very sweet and the slight sour flavour is perfect, plus it is easy to buy and transport! Hope you are having a wonderful holiday, where are you in the south of France? Xx

    • I remember the Anzac celebrations well in New Zealand. A picnic by a lake or a river is always my favourite spot too but we were short on time, not unusual around here! We wanted to go further afield but it will have to be another day, the children still have another 8 days of holidays so hopefully next time! Enjoy your long weekend xx

  • Oh my what a delicious post. We will have lunch outside today but on our terrace but I will start thinking about picnics, this looks so idyllic. Hope you too have a lovely Sunday xoxo

    • Thanks Shari, I love eating outside whenever we can, I think it is maybe because I am English! It’s a habit that won’t die, whenever there is a warm day I simply have to eat outside, it goes back to making the most of any sunny days we got! Enjoy your lunch and your weekend xx

  • I just love this post–it inspires me! The horse pulling a cart full of 🌺 flowers reminds me of a beloved childhood story called Ferdinand. Bon dimanche!

    • I love the horse and cart so much too, we always get so excited when we see it has reappeared whenever we are in that neighbourhood and I love the way that they fill it with flowers and take care of it. Xx

  • I long for lazy hazy summer days, they are a while away yet but the weather has been good and when the happen we will eat outside at every possible opportunity!

    • I know exactly what you mean, whenever the weather is good we always eat outside, it is one of the fabulous things about Spring and summer and it always brings back fabulous childhood memories! Xx

    • Thanks so much, there is something so magical about laying a rug under the trees and then sitting down and sprawling out and eating, one of my favourite things about Spring and Summer! Xx

  • What a perfect day. We are having the opposite weather celebration here as it has cooled down over night and we are looking forward to a day of 72 F and low humidity. We’ll be grilling outside. I just pulled a recipe for meringue I was planning to make and checked it with your advice. The recipe uses your ratios. PS Your phrase “It doesn’t matter a jot” is new to me (American). So what is a “jot”?

    • Oh sorry, I never even thought about that! A jot, is a tiny amount, it’s an old English expression, I couldn’t give a jot, it doesn’t matter a jot or it doesn’t matter one little bit/at all! Your weather sounds perfect, much the same as ours today but it is windy here today which is keeping the temperature down and also making the sun dangerous, one doesn’t realise quite how hot it is! Hope you have a wonderful Sunday, grilling outside, we shall be doing the same this evening. Xx

      • I can imagine how many great expressions your learnt. I always marvel at the differences between American English and British English. When we were in the States we could have en entire conversation with the children’s friends and they wouldn’t have a clue what we were talking about, from having a bath, as opposed to a soak in the tub to putting the rubbish in the bin etc. But my worst mistake ever was constantly calling the children a twat, sorry if this offends anyone! Because in English this is simply a silly person in a very light hearted way, it’s a word we use all the time, but I gather in American English it doesn’t mean that at all and I had no idea, in fact no one told me for ages, no wonder I got so many strange looks!!

  • That looks marvelous, I do love a nice picnic too. I made a picnic quilt to use a couple of years ago, it is all food fabrics, LOL!! You hit two of my favorites – French bread and cheese – and I usually make my deviled eggs. A bit of ham and some cookies and we are good to go. Love your meringues idea, I have made meringue cookies before, but in our humidity they don’t keep crisp for long.

    • Your picnic idea is perfect for me, ham and cheese and a baguette. I love devilled eggs, but some of our children do and some don’t, so we tend to take some mayonnaise and paprika on the side and people can do as they wish! How fabulous to make your own rug with hand selected fabrics, a great idea, and one you can use all the time. Hopefully it is picnic weather with you now before it gets too hot xx

  • So enjoyed this post. I have your menu list for my next lovely picnic with friends . Is there a place to order the small products you mentioned finding? I would love to order. Thanks.

    • Hi Carole, so happy you will save this and I so hope you enjoy it. As to the small products, I don’t know of any way you can order online. My best advice is to book a trip to France and stock up!!! Now, I appreciate that may not be possible, so perhaps if you are talking about the oil, I would suggest maybe buying some small plastic bottles and then making up your own. I will look into this further for you though and see if I can find a way to purchase them. Where are you based? Xx

  • I am so sorry I wasn’t in the vicinity. I would have plonked myself down on your rug and very much enjoyed your fabulous picnic. Aren’t quiches fab for picnics. I have a pesto goats cheese and cherry tomato one that seems to say “it’s summer” as soon as you tuck into it. I agree that nothing tastes as good as food outdoors. Your smoked makerel pate in mini kilner jars is a superb idea. carrefour have a cream and mascarpone mix which whips fantastically but is not so good for the hips!! Lovely post. Thank you.

    • When you are in the vicinity, if you ever are, you must come and knock on the door, there is always room for another person and you know you would be more than welcome! I do find Kilner jars so so useful, plus they look rather nice too! But the small ones are so easy. I shall check out the cream and mascarpone mix, as I don’t eat sugar I find I can indulge a little more in other things!!! Beautiful day here, but windy once more. Hope it is nice with you xx

  • I’m having a small ladies lunch the first week of May: and the meringue will be perfect! The local strawberries here are now in season, so this will be a perfect dessert. Cold soup and salad…. and here’s hoping it’s not too hot to eat on the terrace. Your picnic looks so very perfect!!!!

    • Hi Libby, I think the Eton Mess would be a perfect dessert for a ladies lunch, sounds like great fun, plus you can make the meringue in advance which, when entertaining, is always a good idea! I shall keep my fingers crossed for you for perfect weather! Hope. You are having a lovely weekend xx

  • I like it how you always find an adventure to entertain yourself and your family (including the dogs) in a stylish way an
    I got hungry indeed when I saw your picnic menue and considered immediately where I can arrange one. Our last was
    on a chilly but sunny winter day in Norway with an open fire and among many sledge dogs. It was suprisingly extrem
    cozy and not uncomfortable at all (due the mulled wine and schnaps perhaps) and comparing with one picnic
    on the beach, where we had sand everywhere, the winter picnic was the best ever.

    • Your winter picnic sounds fabulous, that’s the only problem with the beach, the sand, I loathe sand in my food but I love the beach!! I am always trying to find adventures with the children, a simple picnic outside is fabulous, it really is nothing more than moving the food to a different location and yet it changes everything completely. Being able to eat one a rug, to lie down and look up at the sky, it becomes a treat even though it is such a simple thing. One of our best ever picnics was not this year, but last year in the mountains, we went snow shoeing for a day with a guide and stopped at an old shepherd’s hut and sat on a wall in the snow and ate, it was incredible! Xx

    • Hi Kim, do try the dessert when you are feeling back to 100% again. I hope my comment showed on your blog, sometimes it says it is going to and sometimes it doesn’t and this morning, as always, I was in a rush. But sending huge hugs to you xxx

  • I guess we will have to wait a few more weeks to eat outside this year. You are so right about food eaten outdoors…it always taste wonderful. Nothing is better than wine, cheese, some fruit and yes devilled eggs. I am getting impatient now…….

    Ali Xx

    • We have been quite spoilt this year Ali, the weather is fantastic, in shorts every day almost and thinking it is summer, I hope we aren’t in for a big shock! Having said that, already we could welcome some rain, everywhere is so dry and it is only April. I totally agree with you, a little cheese (as you know I am not a big cheese fan, despite living in France) some fruit and hard boiled eggs with a baguette, that for me is perfection. I would love a glass of wine too, if it happened to be an evening picnic, in the daytime I never have a glass because I know I will have to drive someone somewhere at some stage!! Xx

  • Sigh….****why does everything in France look so idyllic??! You just put into words what every one of us Americans dream about when we think of France! Maybe if we would just slow down long enough to spend time on our backs watching the clouds surrounded by wine and cheese….we would find that peace here.
    In fact? You’ve spurned me on now. This week….my 2 granddaughters and I will picnic….at the azalea gardens and I will give them glorious finger foods and teach them about pictures in the sky!
    Thank you for the motivation!!

    • That sounds like the most perfect thing to do with your granddaughters. Our children always love discussing the clouds and what figures they resemble, we can have boats and birds and all sorts of pictures. A picnic is a picnic anywhere, but you are right, the life here is slower, because everyone expects it to be that much slower so when we stop for an hour at lunch we don’t feel guilty, because it is the norm. However, I don’t ever drink during the day, no matter how much a glass of wine might be nice at lunchtime with the family at the weekend, because I know I will have to drive someone somewhere at some stage, it is inevitable! But you can have just as much fun with a soft drink or sparkling water, it’s the whole atmosphere with the rug and picnic food that is so perfect for me. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a fabulous picnic this week xx

  • Perfect and lovely day there for a picnic! We are having a much needed rainy day here in Florida, and I have to admit that it is a nice change and good excuse to stay in my pajamas this morning, drinking coffee, and catching up on my reading. Enjoy your day!
    Xoxo

    • Amazingly we need a rainy day here! I never thought I would say that, certainly not in April, but it is so dry, we haven’t had any rain for weeks and the farmers are getting worried. Hope you enjoyed your relaxed morning, sounds perfect. xxx

  • French picnics are just perfect. I used to love the ones we had on the middle of our regular Sunday randos. Marcel, an ex-butcher, brought home cured saucisson, or some paté. Phillipe brought some of his daughter’s soft goats’ cheese. Someone had bread from the baker, or a home made quiche. Various people had a bottle of something for an apéro. Wine of course. Several of us would bring cakes … and so on. Nothing was planned, but we all shared and it always worked out fine. At the end, a box of sugar lumps would appear and then a bottle of home-made eau de vie, to be dripped onto the lumps and eaten. We’d eat and chat and sunbathe a while …. and then resume our walk. The best of times.

    • Those sound like the very best walks, an impromptu picnic amongst friends. But what intrigues me are the sugar lumps and the eau de vie, I have never heard of this ever before. I know how eau de vie is made, how did it taste on the sugar cube? You can’t tell me about this without all the details, I am so intrigued! I just think French picnics are so good because some of the simplest ingredients are so readily available, who wouldn’t love a picnic with a baguette, some cheese and saucisson, I mean already it is perfect! xx

      • Oh,home made eau de vie – apricot or whatever, sprinkled on the cube is a sort of equivalent of a good liqueur chocolate without the chocolate. It was very standard picnic offering in the Ariège. Maybe you could ask your oldest inhabitant in your village? xx

      • And to think I have never heard of it, sounds just like a liqueur chocolate to me, my father would love this and I am sure my children would too but four out of five of them are way too young! I shall be asking around in the village this week, I shall ask all my French friends, I am intrigued to know who knows about this! Thanks for explaining xx

      • Bonjour Susan ! Pour complèter le post de margaret21 et pour vous aider, Susan, à devenir encore plus française, je peux vous dire qu’ un morceau de sucre trempé dans une eau-de-vie s’ appelle un ” CANARD ” ( l’ expression vient du canard qui trempe régulièrement sa tête dans l’ eau pour se nourrir ). Pour faire un ” canard ” il faut se verser dans un petit verre , une eau-de-vie ( prune, poire etc… ) forte ou de l’ Armagnac,du Cognac, du Calvados ou encore ( ma favorite ) de la liqueur Chartreuse Verte. Avec les doigts tremper ( rapidement ) un morceau de sucre dans ce verre et mettre le sucre sur la langue. Laisser fonfre avant d’ avaler… le sucre adoucit la force de l’ alcool ! C’ est divin ! Un “canard” est à faire en fin de repas très copieux pour aider à la digestion. A réserver aux adultes bien sûr.//Hello Susan! To add to the margaret21′ s post, and to help you, Susan, to become even more french, I can tell you that a sugar cube dipped into eau-de-vie is called a ” CANARD ” ( come from the duck which dips his head under water to feed ). To make a ” canard ” you have to fill a little glass with eau-de-vie, ( pear, plum etc…), Armagnac, Cognac, Calvados and my favourite, Liqueur Green Chartreuse. With your fingers, dip ( quickly / up and down ) ) a sugar cube in this little glass and put it on the tongue.Let’ s melted before swallowing…Sugar softens the strength of alcohol. It is divine! A ” canard ” has to be made at the end of a copious meal ( Thanksgiving, Christmas meal for example ) to help your digestion. only for adults of course. Philippe

      • Alors ça, Philippe. Et moi qui pensais que c’était ENCORE un truc de la Suisse Romande (d’où Mari Magnifique/Hero Husband est originaire)….. 🙂 Tu sais il y a tellement de paroles/mots que j’ai utilisés en F (et à l’Alliance Française en Angleterre) qui viennent pas de la France mais sont ‘spécials’ à la Romandie que souvent je ne sais pas si ‘je viens ou je pars’….. Cela donne aussi d’épices dans la vie quotidienne !!! (Suis Suissesse alémanique moi-même)

      • Thanks so much Philippe, I have never heard of this or experienced it at any French friends houses after meals. I shall however, certainly make sure we introduce it at Christmas and maybe after some long summer meals outside with friends, when it is way past midnight but the air is still warm and still. I am so happy that every now and then you comment with great bits of advice, I learn something new all the time and customs and traditions that I love to embrace as part of our French life. Merci Mille fois xx

      • Susan,tout le plaisir est pour moi quand je lis vos jolis textes racontant votre vie en Charente-Maritime. Et surtout je suis toujours ému de lire votre amour sans nuages pour la France dans votre superbe blog. Votre talent d’ écriture rejoint celui d’ autres grandes amoureuses de ce pays que sont Osyth, Catherine Berry ou Paulita Kincer ( N.B. : 4 écrivains au total… ) que j’ ai grand plaisir à lire dans leur blog. Il est donc naturel que je vous aide à découvrir les traditions françaises que je connais.// Susan, It is my pleasure as I read your great text about your life in Chrente-Maritime.And above all, I am always moved when I read your inconditional love for France into your amazing blog Your story telling ‘s talent looks like that of others deep lovers of this country as Osyth, Catherine Berry or Paulita Kincer that I adore reading in their blogs ( Nota Bene : 4 writers all in all… ). Thus, it is natural for me to help you, with my poor English, to discover some french traditions which I know.

      • Thanks so much Philippe, I am truly flattered that you link me to such great company. Your English is far from poor, it is truly excellent. Have you lived in the UK? Is this the reason you are fluent in English too?

      • Vous êtes trop indulgente avec mon niveau d’ anglais écrit. Je lis assez facilement la langue de Shakespeare mais je manque de pratique à l’ oral. Mes 9 années d’ études en anglais ( 6e à Université ) ne remplaceront jamais l’ immersion dans la vie quotidienne britannique ( grâce à vous Susan vos enfants seront bilingues anglais-français à vie ). Je n’ ai jamais vécu au Royaume-Uni ce que je regrette beaucoup car j’ adore la culture britannique ( musique , sport , littérature … ).Une petite digression Susan pour vous imprégner encore plus de la psychologie en France de nos jours : la majorité des français regrette l’ éxécution du roi Louis XVI et de la reine Marie-Antoinette en 1993 ( mais ne regrette pas la Révolution de 1789 ! ) et donc sont très admiratifs de la famille royale britannique. La reine Elizabeth II est adorée en France… comme si elle était reine de France ! En ces temps d’ élections elle nous serait très utile ici… // You are too kind with my level of english written. I read relatively easily the language of Shakespeare but I am out of practice in English spoken.My 9 years of studies in English ( from collège/6e to University) will never replace a dumping in everyday English life ( thanks to you Susan, your children wille be bilingual English- French for life ). I’ ve never lived in UK what I regret a lot because I love british culture ( music, sport, littérature, cinema,…). A short digression Susan to help you to share the french psychology at the moment: A majority of french people regret the death of King Louis XVI and The Queen Marie-Antoinette in 1993 ( but don’t regret the Revolution of 1789! ) and so they are very admiring of the british Royal family. Queen Elizabeth II is adored in France…as if she is Queen of France! In this time of elections she would be very useful here…

      • Well your English is excellent, now I wish I had worked as hard at French during my school years, instead of messing around thinking it was boring! Our children are indeed very lucky, to be bi-lingual is a fabulous gift. They flit between the two languages without so much as a second thought. I think the Queen would be very useful here, the elections are seriously worrying and as foreigners it is quite unsettling. I am remaining positive and being hopeful because that’s about all we can do at the moment, sadly we cannot vote. xx

      • Bien sûr Susan, comme je sais votre passion pour l’ Histoire, vous avez immédiatement corrigé mon erreur de date de l’ èxécution de Louis XVI et Marie-Antoinette !!! C’ était en 1793( et non en 1993… ) que ces tragiques évènements se sont déroulés.// Of course Susan, as I know your passion for History, you immediatly corrected my big mistake about the date of the death of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette!!! It was in 1793( and not in 1993…) that these tragic events happened.

      • Je me suis rendue compte du date, mais je savais ce que vous vouliez dire! Je pensais que vu que vous faites tellement d’efforts en Anglais, je repondrais en francais !

    • Margaret; as so often, I found myself nodding at your comment (I only read them when I have a minute…. and even then not all, but always yours seem to pop out or up or s’thing!) – The Eau de Vie thingie I always thought was a Swiss specialty – now I feel bereaved (and yeah just kidding but also ‘just saying’….) 😉

  • Looks like the perfect picnic. It certainly helps having several people to eat as you can have a nice assortment. Unfortunately with only two of us and Stuart not being a big eater, a half baguette and piece of pâté is all we would need which is not what I think a picnic should be. Yours reminds me of my childhood picnics. Wonderful! Great memories.

    • I often think about that! Without our tribe of children I am quite sure everything would be very different, if I made a cake no one would eat it, a baguette would go stale and so many things wouldn’t be worth making, as it is, everything always gets eaten too fast, too many mouths to feed, and always complicated because this one likes this and that one likes that!!! I love picnics as you can probably tell! xx

    • I think it is because the lifestyle is that much slower Axelle, everyone expects to stop and eat so it is not unusual to enjoy a lunch together. A picnic is a picnic anywhere, but here people do take the time to enjoy eating together and I think that is the difference. xx

    • Hi Rachel, we’ve had the most incredible spring here and we actually need rain, the farmers are getting worried, it has been so hot and dry. I hope we don’t get a big shock with a ghastly May! Hope you are both well and have had a good winter. Love from us all here to you xx

  • I don’t ever want your little ones to grow up. They are just too perfect, like characters in a Peter Pan story. So glad you and your husband are treasuring each moment with them.

    • Hi Ellen, I wish they wouldn’t grow up too, but sadly they do! I so wish time could stand still for a while, I love the age they are at the moment, a little bit of everything, old enough to understand so much but young enough to still be innocent. I promise we are certainly treasuring every second. Hope you have had a lovely weekend xx

  • How delightful and delicious, Susan! It’s quite nice here today, but we spent another bit of the afternoon picking up trash in the next section of shore around the small lake near our house. My husband is now taking a nap. 🙂 But we’ve had many of these picnic items in the last few weeks in one meal or another. I’ll have to see whether any of these nifty products are at the Colruyt near my s-i-l’s. The first time I learned to love rosé was when they lived in Provence and it was so hot we couldn’t indulge in our favorite reds. Hmmm, now I’m craving some good olives and a glass of wine. I just got some fabulous olives Friday, so maybe later…

    janet

    • Sounds like you have had a busy weekend Janet, the weather has been gorgeous here again today. I have to admit I am a red wine fine and actually I never drink during the day at all anyway because there is always someone who needs driving somewhere at some stage! So I am very non-French in that respect, I only have sparkling water, but everyone else enjoys a glass of rosé in the summer! Now in the evening, I do enjoy a glass with a meal and some good olives are always very very welcome. When are you arriving in France? xx

      • I understand not drinking if you’re doing to drive and there’s always time in the evening for a glass.

        I leave May 29, so arrive on the 30. Not that long now. Time is flying by.

      • It’s not worth ever taking the risk, I am afraid I am one of those people who won’t even have half a glass if I am going to get behind the wheel, better safe than sorry and anyway I can have just as much fun without it to be honest, I’m not a big drinker! Time flies by indeed, so sorry we won’t get to meet this time, but there is always next year, how long are you here for?

  • Oh,Susan, your beautiful pictures make it impossible to pick a favorite! But your adorable children enjoying such a lovely aftenoon leave no doubt as to the winner!(Also love how you included your pups!)
    I had to laugh at the perfect timing as today here in the US is National Picnic Day!
    We were contemplating doing exactly that out in the backyard this afternoon,and now,thanks to your incentive,we shall go for it!
    Particularly fond of your heavenly dessert,(as I’m sure you know, is called Eton Mess.Here we use heavy cream,whipped) ).Your recipes are always wonderful! This one especially seems as if it floated down from above!
    You have once again filled our Sunday with a tranquility that lasts us all week.
    What a gift!

    • Thanks so much Natalia, life here is all about children and dogs! I hope you did go out and have a picnic, it’s funny, one can take the exact same food and eat it outside sitting on a rug in the garden and somehow it tastes so different and the whole meal becomes quite magical. I think it’s also because we can lie back and enjoy the weather and it all feels so relaxed and unhurried. I hope you enjoy the remainder of the weekend and that you have a fabulous week ahead xx

    • Thanks so much Jane, I do love picnics and I am always trying to think of ways to make them more exciting whilst keeping the menu simple. This dessert is so easy and is a firm family favourite! xx

  • Your picnic sounds lovely. Our weather this weekend is crisp & clear after rain & a cold front blew in. I loved the picture of the horse & cart. When we were in France a week ago the fields of yellow canola flowers were blooming everywhere across the country side. We were told the flax will be blooming soon with its beautiful blue flowers. I enjoyed the slow pace of life the French seem to savor.
    Have a lovely week.

    • Yes the canola is everywhere, swathes of bright yellow across the countryside, the barley is fully formed now and swaying in the breeze, soon it will start turning a golden yellow. The pace of life here is certainly slightly slower and it really does make for a more relaxing lifestyle, but also one where we are able to appreciate everything that is going on around us. I will take crisp and clear over rain and cold any day! Have a great week xx

  • Oh, methinks we are all enchanted by the horse and cart and the idea behind it. A picnic on the grass: what relaxing fun! Nought difficult to prepare but lots of goodies to try . . . Well, since the Australian winter ‘my way’ is hardly freezing [it has always warmed up to 16C+ by lunchtime] I tend to eat my main meal outside at lunchtime most days throughout the year – perhaps I can call that a ‘picnic’ also 🙂 ! Admittedly on a garden chair under my favourite tree, but assuredly with ‘proper’ plate and most certainly a glass of white wine! A rather nice break to a workday actually . . . . And lovely to see your weather warm enough for the girls to be in sleeveless garments . . . enjoy!

    • I loved the winters when we lived in New Zealand, we were up north in the Bay of Islands, and as with , yours most winter days were up to around 16 plus by midday. We are quite spoilt here too, if one can find a sheltered spot sun winter days are fabulous. But now, spring is definitely here, can you believe it but we are already desperately needing rain, the farmers are worried. However, the children are on spring holidays and they are enjoying the garden as if it was summer, playing badminton on the lawn, picnics, cycling and of course plenty of tennis, it’s a good life for them! I shall certainly post another photo once the horse and cart is adorned with flowers, it is a wonderful sight all summer long. Have a lovely week xx

  • Hmm, that wine by the glass is a new innovation in French supermarkets. Not sure I’ll find much use for just one glass though! 😉 That picnic looks lovely and your bottle of rose is just the perfect colour to toast the arrival of summer!

    • I think the French are catching on to all sorts of little things like this, they are, in my opinion, the best of the best when it comes to picnickers! But then their food lends itself perfectly, a saucisson, so simple it doesn’t even need refrigeration, cheese, a baguette and some fresh fruit, that’s a picnic right there before anyone has to do any work at all! xx

  • i am a born pic nic girl….. but shop bought ´wine in a glass’ noooooooooo….
    on many a ´organic’ (unplanned, spontaneous) trip, mostly from UK to FR, we always bought two cheap glasses upon arrival in F, put the shop bought bottle in the fresh cold water and we ALWAYS have our pic nics in style….. I picnic everywhere!!!!!!! And Hero Husband still loves it now.

    • But for those wanting a glass in a hurry when making a quick impromptu picnic the wine by the glass is a great idea I think. Imagine arriving at the beach for a day out, the restaurants are overflowing so you stop at the supermarket thinking you will pick up some bits and pieces, plus they are very large glasses, ok, probably cheap plonk, but then lots of local French table wine is just that and tastes great! I think the French always picnic in style and you sound as if you have it down to perfection. We picnic everywhere too, it’s just such a terribly civilised way to eat! We will have to picnic together, imagine the feast we will put together! xx

      • Actually, the day you probably wrote this, is, what I did: Carrot sticks, (bought) huous, cucumber slices with feta cheese bits stuck to them, mini blinis with some rests of salmon, no olives as ^m the only one eating them…., and a DECENT white all crisp, dry and ‘moreish’… I draw the line on those terrible looking v.large glasses…. I cannot imagine that such a wine would be good. Srry

      • Why didn’t I think of the salmon, my absolute favourite! Now I am longing for another picnic but it’s turned decidedly chilly, meant to be hot by the weekend again, fingers crossed. Now as to the wine!!! I am not sure I would buy it, I don’t drink white wine anyway, rosé very occasionally, red is my favourite, although I do love a glass of champagne, but then who doesn’t! I’m also a pathetic drinker anyway, one glass and that’s all!! However, I did find it interesting that even French supermarkets had cottoned on to the fast and quick picnic idea Xx

      • Susan, you wouln’t be the first friend I converted to drinking red wine…. 🙂 Not that I’m proud of the fact but I can be very convincing….
        We are ‘red wine drinkers’ mostly, but in really hot weather or even now with just the sun burning at lunch time, we also go for a dry cool white or the occasional rosé. We had to LEARN to appreciate Champagne however and I still wouldn’t pay a steep sum for a bottle. But we seem to only know people who drink the bubbly at any and no occasion and as we are still able to learn, we adopted to this very French style relatively painless 🙂
        NEVER I would bow to this cheap style of drinking though – and I rest my case (of wine….)

      • I rather like this French style of champagne just for an apero, no special occasion needed! But I still prefer my glass of red most of all, because, I tell myself there are health benefits to a glass of red wine and none to a glass of rose, white or champagne!! Xx

      • You know what? It was my father’s doctor who ‘prescribed’ to him his daily glass of red wine…. He came from a time when wine was not consumed ‘just like that’ and I think I had my first regular wine drinking when I lived for a short while in Canada…. (and let me tell you at that time the Californian wines were just emerging and ppl were ‘making their own wine’ which of course was – well – disgusting, even to my uniniciated tastebuds!). I told my dad when he told this late development that he just ‘missed out’ on so many yrs of wine drinking, as I had told him for the longest time that indeed a glass or two per day would have done him good – but I’m still smiling at his late joy and his childish ‘I have won’ thinking 🙂
        He died on the 1st day of the year 2006 and I like the idea that I shall cheer to his santé shortly….

      • What a lovely story. My father always had his glass every day too, I think it is good! I researched quite a lot about red wines, I know to look for those that have the highest levels of resveratrol, where the wine comes from affects this greatly and also the type of grape, a Malbec for instant has the highest resveratrol content. This way I tell myself a glass is actually really doing me more good than harm, plus I am enjoying it, what more could I ask for!! xx

      • I apologize for all the typos…. it’s a ‘funny’ thing: I’m doing this on an iPad which I very obviously don’t master at all – I write very quickly but can’t see the text I’m writing as it is ‘under the screen line’ and when I try to ‘scroll down’ I loose it – maybe it’s my ‘light touch’ or the relative age of the soft keyboard or nerves (I should be in the kitchen instead of writing….) – Je ne sais quoi…. So, of course it is
        Humous
        I am the only…
        Sorry

        I repeat the SORRY ….. 🙂

      • Kiki, I have the answer for you! To go with your iPad buy a case with a keyboard attached! I have a MacBook but use my iPad for all sorts of things, 75% of the time, in fact I am replying to this on the iPad. However as I too type very fast I hate the tap tap with two fingers on the screen and so I have a case that flips out to include a keyboard too, it’s a Logitech Keyboard Folio. When closed looks nothing more than an iPad case and it is absolutely brilliant, I can tap as fast as I like on a proper keyboard whilst having the full iPad screen up in front of me and it provides a stand! Xx

      • This sounds really helpful, sadly, first of all I’m using HH’s iPad and 2nd – I sort of insisted (although it was HIS toy…) to have a separate logitech keyboard which is so worn out from my typing that some of the time it cannot follow my rocket-speed typing (yeah at one time I was a top notch PA and even won the 1st prize of my year in stenographie – which was very much in demand at my youthful age 🙂 :)…..)
        I guess WHEN and IF we ever have the means to buy another iPad-thing it will be the ‘latest’. But we are quite happy with this tiny toy because it suits my eyes wahayyy better than the large computer. AND we bought a ‘cover-fold’ with it which protects the screen and folds up as a stand. So we’re not too bad off – And just for your info: I wrapped a Victorinox knife (minus the cut off fingertip, it was minor damage only….) for your man because we just might happen to pass through your region (don’t know yet) next spring when we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary 🙂

      • Oh you are so funny and far far too generous. But now you have me very excited, I so hope you come this way next spring, you must stay a night or two of course, we’ll help you celebrate!!! Xx

  • I am hoping it will be sunny in the U.K. This coming weekend as it’s a long holiday w/e and I can take the kids for a picnic. We have a fabulous walk that goes up over the downs, it’s a. It of a hike but the view at the top is worth it and then we can flop down and enjoy your menu, I’ll make the meringue and keep the Eton Mess a surprise, the kids will love it!!

    • We love long hikes with a picnic mid way. In Devon we used to have one that went right from the house, we wound our way upwards through the woods coming out at the top of a huge hill and could see for miles around. We would sit in a corner, being careful to watch out for cowpats and have a lovely picnic in the English sun, nothing better that a fine English summer’s day, the temperature is always just perfect! I shall keep my fingers crossed for you for decent weather this weekend xx

  • Picnic season is almost upon us here too, Susan. Amy was driven to wash out the soft cool-bag after reading your post and I have just finished gluing back on a fork handle in preparation for our first outing. Maybe next weekend. Of course, British picnics differ slightly from French ones, as we have pork pies, scotch eggs, a host of smoked fish and so on to choose from. Eton Mess, though, takes me back to my childhood – never thought of doing that for a picnic – brilliant idea!

    However, I must admit that a totally organised picnic is not my most favourite outdoor dining arrangement. Amy and I are both exceptionally fond of something a little more alfresco – a baguette, a large tomato, some saucisson, a small cheese, an onion and a sharp knife, all from a backpack high on a mountain path somewhere in the Pyrenees or similar, dusty toes freed from boots and a never-ending view beneath our feet. The stop for victuals must take at least 30 mins, since it takes 10 mins for our two cans of beer to chill in a stream, too. We have a couple of places we like to visit for this – neither of which we’ve been to for a couple of years. This year should see us back there and we’ll say hello on our way past!

    • Sounds like the perfect picnic location. We used to go to Iraty in the Pyrenees in the summer, we would base ourselves by a mountain stream where there was a giant waterhole, everyone would swim, even though the water was still like ice, magical location, perfect family day out. Do stop by and say hello on your way south, there is always a spare bed and a noisy meal with the family on offer! Really looking forward to meeting you both xx

  • A wonderful post as usual! Good to see that you’re all enjoying the warm weather! We’ve had rain here all week and the water is slowly creeping up from the lake towards the house! Time that our chickens become ducks!

    • Thanks Josie, We have rain due tomorrow and actually it is a good thing, it has been so very dry, the farmers are getting worried. I hope your chickens stay high and dry and that the lake recedes and that you get some sun soon. xx

  • Oh the memories that come flooding in as I read your words and look at the photos. Some of our most special moments in Provence involved picnics and I loved those simple outings ended by laying on a blanket, relaxing among the cherry trees.

    • I totally agree with you, some of our best moments are always with a simple picnic, it always seems to bring out the best in everything, the great outdoors, simple but fresh food and great company, can’t ask for a lot more than that! xx

    • I have never added vanilla essence, plain meringues are literally egg whites and sugar, I often make chocolate ones also for which I simply add a tablespoon of pure cocoa powder. I like to keep mine really simple and have never had any complaints! When are you arriving in France? xx

  • a gorgeous weekend here in Guernsey too! In fact we seemed to have had about 3 weeks of sunshine and blue skies, most unusual…….so a heavenly day yesterday starting with a swim in the sea and then pottering around in the garden, weeding, eating, sewing and reading, perfect. Though always forget how strong the early sun is, feeling a bit rosey today 😉

    • OMG you are brave! What was the water temperature? Today at the beach there were quite a few people wading in up to their waists and one or two people swimming. I took the girls to the beach a couple of weeks ago and people were swimming then also, the girls went in and came out again just as fast! We too have had weeks of non stop sun, so much so that the farmers are getting quite worried and we need rain, alas it is forecast to rain much of tomorrow and I have to admit (even if it is a little begrudgingly) that it will be a good thing! Plenty of rosy red people around this area too, lots of tourists who have not realised how hot it is with the sea breeze! xx

      • its 11 degrees, but have been swimming all winter, so is feeling positively balmy now, also it makes you feel so alive!
        Wind burn definitely one too watch out for, especially in Herm, going camping there in a few weeks time, so will have to be more careful than I was at the weekend 😉

      • 11 is cold, really cold. But I know people in Alderney who swim all year round too, maybe it’s a Channel Island thing!! Spent many fabulous days on Herm. I remember when our eldest who is now 20 was just a couple of months old hiking all around the island with her in a sling getting the easy ride, I also remember how sunburnt I got doing so, it was a fresh day, not particularly warm, but that clear clean air is a killer. Have the best time ever, I am just a tiny bit jealous!!! Xx

  • I TOO had a picnic but with my four-legged Menagerie!BANKSY BOY the PIGGY and WINSTON the CARDIGAN CORGI!WE sat outside with crackers and cheese and a sliced apple…………GOOD FUN WAS HAD BY ALL and than I showed them the empty plate and everyone departed for either a nap or exploration!
    XX

    • Your picnic sounds like great fun, I love cheese and crackers! Having our four legged friends join us for a picnic is always a necessity and I am so in love with Banksy Boy, how I would love a pet pig!! xx

  • Picnics…Brings back childhood memories…🍉🍒🍅🧀🍗🍓
    Walking around Lake Harriet yesterday my Husband says; “we should do a picnic.” I laughed out loud and I said; “I have the perfect menu from my friend Susan in France.”
    I agree…It is very “Idyllic” as one person said. But, also once again it shows Family Time…something You do better than most. 💞💐💞
    The menu is lovely…the pictures beautiful…I am thinking Susan….This is a Very Good Life You Have!
    💐💞🌺🐝🐞😎🍀🍉🧀

    • It is a very good life we have, I would be the first to admit that, but it is not the life for everyone, I think many people would find it far too boring and lacking in bling and glamour, perhaps a little too simple and a little too back to nature for many. But it suits us just fine! You should do a picnic though because they are simply the best! Off to a sporting event with two of the girls tomorrow so we shall be taking a picnic with us! I hope if nothing else that we are building childhood memories that our children will remember lovingly. I had a wonderful childhood and all I want is for my children to have the same! Isn’t that all we want really. Have to run, or I shan’t be up in time to get them on the road at the crack of dawn!! xx

    • It is standard for a French picnic! Sadly I had to drive so none for me, as there are always children who need taking here and there! But it doesn’t stop everyone else having a chilled glass on a lovely day! Xx

  • Now that’s got me thinking! I’m going to amass a picnic bag, full of everything we need so that it’s ready to go when the weather’s right! Regarding meringue, I made one at the weekend for a family lunch. Not a scrap left. It’s Chocolate Meringue with Nutella and Strawberries. Make your meringue, 4 eggs etc. fold in a couple of spoonfuls of cocoa powder. tip onto baking paper on baking tray, form a circle with the sides higher and a good sized dip in the centre. Cook as usual. When cool, add some very slightly warmed Nutella Spread (or Cadbury’s Chocolate Spread) – warmed merely to loosen it just a little so that it’s easier to pour into the centre of the meringue). Whip some double cream and place over the chocolate spread in the centre, so that it is completely covered. No need to be pernickerty, just roughly pile it on. Slice Stawberries from top to bottom into thin slices. Poke the slices in around the cream in a circle, so that they stand up, then another circle inside that and so on. Put a whole strawberry in the centre with its green stem if you like. then melt some of the chocolate spread so that you can take a teaspoon and waft a thin stream of it back and forth over the whole meringue. It tastes devine. I’m sure you can adapt this to be a Chocolate Eton Mess for a picnic! Have a lovely week.

    • Thank you so much, the Nutella meringue sounds fabulous, Gigi is the hugest Nutella fan, she would have it on just about everything if she could, wait til I show her your recipe! It has turned really cold here, and I gather the same in the UK too, but I have to keep reminding myself it is only April and so we should not be too surprised!

      When the warmer weather comes once more enjoy your picnic! Xx

  • I think the concept of picnics is one of my favorite things. How a rug becomes your table and napkins become plates! Always reminds me of Enid Blyton books, they always knew how to throw such a good picnic!

    • I totally agree with you Lily, I adore picnics and you are so right the table becomes a rug and the napkins are plates, the atmosphere is instantly relaxed. Enid Blyton kids always had the very best picnics in the best places as part of the best lifestyle!!! Xx

  • Looks absolutely delicious Suzie and a lovely setting. Would you believe we had snow today and a frost thus evening. Enjoy the lovely weather and love to all of the family, see you in September x

    • Crazy weather Neil, Izzi said she had a frost last night in Bournemouth! It turned bitterly cold here too, down to 6C by 6pm last night, we had to light the fire for the first time since the end of March and also do the same for our guests in the gite, meant to warm up by the weekend again though and at least this morning we have brilliant sunshine, but oh that easterly wind is mean! Love to you both xx

  • I make meringue all the time here in Michigan, although I try to avoid it if it’s too hot and humid. There are other options! In fact, the dessert you made is what I made for Easter here (minus the double cream for me — sticking to low fat, but Rick enjoyed!). Our strawberries weren’t the best (not till June) but the meringue sweetened it up nicely!

    I stopped over from Monday Social because I was enchanted with your title (and really, how I would love to picnic with you!) but when I saw your rough coats Jack Russells, my heart did a flip flop. We used to have a dear rough Jack (named Jack — we didn’t name him!) and he had the most personality of any dog ever. (Although he would never have sat still at an open air picnic without being chained down! Too many distractions!) I loved the rough coats — you see so many smooth and they just aren’t as cute to me.

    It looks like a perfect day. I’m going to look for a follow button here! ~ jeanie from Marmelade Gypsy

    • Hi Jeanie, I am so happy you came over, hope you will follow along as I often feature our two Jack Russell’s. We wouldn’t want to live without them. One, Bentley is Australian, he is now 10 whereas Evie, the smaller one is French and nearly 2. Both are actually incredibly laid back characters, they both love most of all lieing on the doormat in the sun! However, rattle the lead and mention a walk and they are there instantly, such fabulous companions. I love the rough coated ones too, it makes them special, we are hoping to breed from Evie this summer.

      Your meringue sounds delicious, always my favourite with strawberries. Hope you have a fabulous end to the week. Xx

  • What a perfect day! What more does one need? I love the idea of the Eton Mess for desserts. I love making meringues, I flavor them with orange blossom water. I’ve just returned to Seattle after 5 weeks in Eze, no picnics for me for awhile. Your children are darling. xo

    • I can imagine they were a blissful five weeks, the weather has just been so perfect, never known an April so beautiful. I shall certainly try the orange blossom water when I next make meringues, thanks for the tip. Hope you are having a good week xx

    • I totally agree, picnics with floppy paper plates just doesn’t work somehow, plus they always blow away, food and all! So happy it is picnic season once again! Have a great week xx

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