The Art of Street Drinking in Paris: A Chef’s Guide to Parisian Outdoor “Apéro” Culture

Ah, Paris in summer. The sun kisses the Seine, laughter spills from sidewalk cafés, and the aroma of freshly baked bread mingles with something a bit more…spirited. That’s right fellow foodies, it’s street apéro season!

Forget stuffy bars and overpriced cocktails. Parisians know that the real magic happens outdoors, with a chilled bottle of wine, a crusty baguette, and good company. And guess what? Street drinking in Paris is not only allowed, it’s an intrinsic part of Parisian culture!

In this guide, I’ll spill the secrets to enjoying l’apéro like a true Parisian. We’ll cover the rules of public drinking in Paris (yes, there are a few), the etiquette (crucial for not looking like a clueless tourist), and the top spots to soak up the sun and the rosé for the best outdoor drinking in Paris experience.

The Legality of Street Drinking in Paris: Your “Apéro” License

Good news, thirsty travelers: cracking open a cold one in public is as Parisian as the Eiffel Tower itself. Picture yourself perched on the banks of the Seine, a chilled bottle of rosé in hand, the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the twilight. That’s not just a postcard, mes amis, it’s a Parisian birthright.

But just like a delicious french meal, there are a few key ingredients to keep in mind:

  • Laissez-Faire, But with Finesse: Paris is all about enjoying life’s simple pleasures, and that includes a sidewalk tipple. But remember, we’re not animals. No public urination, no drunken brawls, and always clean up your empties.
  • Check the local by-law’s: A few spots are off-limits for street drinking in Paris, like the manicured gardens of the Tuileries or the hallowed grounds of Notre Dame. Check local signage to ensure that you respect the rules, or risk a fine that’ll make your wallet weep.
  • The Olympic Exception: With the 2024 Olympics looming, expect some temporary restrictions on public drinking in Paris. Stay tuned to the local news for updates.
  • Move on Politely: If you do get asked to move on or close your containers by park guards or local police. Apologise profusely and react immideatly, in my experience, they normally won’t fine you unless you are being difficult.
A picture taken during an Apero en famille in a paris park with our baby when she was a few month old

Public Drinking Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts for a Flavourful “Apéro”

Alright, let’s dive into the etiquette of Parisian apéro. Think of it as the secret sauce that’ll make you blend in like a local, not a lost lamb when drinking in public in Paris:

  • Do:
    • Pack a Picnic: Cheese, charcuterie, olives – elevate your drink with some gourmet nibbles. (Don’t worry if you didn’t, parisian supermarkets are packed with picnic fair at this time of the year)
    • Choose Scenic Spots: The Seine, the Canal Saint-Martin, a hidden square – make it Instagram-worthy. This is after all
    • Use Reusable Cups: Ditch the plastic and sip in style from a bamboo tumbler or a chic enamel mug. Monoprix have great usuable wine glasses you can buy in preperation for your picnic.
    • Keep It Civilized: Loud music, rowdy behavior? Save it for the nightclubs.
    • Clean Up Your Act: Nobody likes a litterbug. Dispose of your bottles and trash properly.
  • Don’t:
    • Get Sloshed: Public drinking is about joie de vivre, not drunken debauchery.
    • Drink and Drive: Obvious, but essential. Stick to public transport or stroll home.
    • Shatter the Peace (or Glass): Broken glass is a party foul. Opt for cans or plastic bottles.
    • Drink in Forbidden Zones: Some parks and areas have restrictions on alcohol. Respect the rules, or risk a fine that could buy you a week’s worth of croissants.

Parisian “Apéro” Hotspots: The Best Places to Drink Outdoors in Paris

Ready to unleash your inner Parisian? Here are a few of my favorite haunts for a sunset apéro and the best places to drink outdoors in Paris:

  • The Steps on the Hill of Montmartre; Sunset seen from the top of Montmartre is magical and best enjoyed with glass of bubbles. Beware this is a crazy busy area with many tourist traps and scams, but enjoying it with some booze you bought from home will make it magical!
  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont: Lush greenery, waterfalls, and a killer view of the city.
  • Canal Saint-Martin: Trendy, vibrant, and lined with quirky bars for refills. Every young trendy Parisian makes their way here as soon as the sun comes out.
  • The Seine: Grab a spot on the quays and watch the boats full of tourists steam by. As the sun set the party vibe’s grow, to the west the ambience is pure romance while to the east, it’s full of young people partying.

Perfecting the Menu for Your Parisian “Apéro”:

The art of perfecting a French Apero is one that has been honed by the your amazing french hosts for many generations. If it’s your first apero, focus not only on something delicious to drink but also something tasty to eat. As a rule, I get four seperate snacks if I am planning to head for dinner and 8 to 10 if we are going for the full blown apero dinatoire.

The Best Parisian Snacks for your Outdoor Apero

Can’t decide what to get, here are my recommendations of a couple of things to grab to eat as you explore paris’ wonderful culinary offering.

  • Baguette Tradition: the cornerstone of any apero, you must head to your nearest artisan boulanger and grab a baguette tradition to go with anything else you grab.
  • Charcuterie: Frances famous cured meats are center stage of an Apero for me – saucisson and Rillettes are my two favourite to look out for. I would also highly recommend looking out for a saucisson a’ail – a garlic sausage that has been a . Best place to go is head to your butcher or charcutier, they will slice everything for you and of course you will get the tastiest apero treats.
  • Cheese: If you head to a local fromagerie and tell them you are going to do an apero in the street they will go out of their way to help you choose and build an apero cheese board that will blow your mind.
  • Michel et Augustin – Petits Sable: These delicious savoury buscuits made by real pattisier and born on the west of Paris are a gastronomic delight and I can’t stress enough how awesome they are at the moment of the Apero.
  • Raddishes and Cherry tomatoes: No Parisian apero is complete without a few vegtables to snack on. These are my two fave’s but you will find plenty of pre-prepared vegtable platters ready for a street apero in your local supermarket or french market.
An image shot of an parisian apero shot on the siene as we were street drinking in paris showing french bread an opinel and some snacks

The Best Drinks for a street Apero

If you are looking for the best drinks for an Apero, head to your local independant cavist and tell them what you are up to. They often have everything you need for an Apero success!

  • Wine: It’s the obvious choice, and for good reason. Opt for a
    • Bubbles – I love a crement de loire or a vouvray as a bubbly alternative to over priced champagne. But bubbles are without doubt the most Parisian way to enjoy a party vibe for an apero.
    • Crisp rosé – For me, Rose is synonymous with summer times in France. Look out for a Gris from the Sables de Camargue – we love the one with a flamingo on – or a Cotes de Provence – it’s delicious grapefruit notes remind me of the heat of the south of France.
    • Chilled white’s
    • Light Red’s – For me a chilled Chinon or Pinot Noir is an excellent choice in the sun!
  • Beer: Local craft brews are gaining popularity. Ask for recommendations at a nearby shop or check out my guide for some of the top beer’s and craft breweries in Paris.
  • Soft Drinks: Refreshing and a touch less boozy, perfect for a sunny afternoon. Oringina is my favourite and takes me back to my first apero’s traveling through France with my parents.

Bonus Tip’s for Parisian Apero Success

Finally a couple of cheeky tips I have learned from the many years of street apero I have had the pleasure of enjoying over the last decade I have spent living in Paris.

Don’t forget the bottle opener! In the summer I actually carry an Opinel Number 10 which is an excellent apero knife with a built in bottle opener.

Take some Tissues (or wet wipes) something always gets spilled and you always need something that to help you wipe those grubby hands.

Finally, Don’t forget to learn a few key phrases in French, while Parisians reputation maybe one of their snooty behaviour, this soon breaks into smiles and friendly hello’s at the time of the Apro. A simple “Santé!” (Cheers!) will earn you smiles from the locals as they sit beside you on the banks of the Seine.

Conclusion: Embrace the “Apéro” Spirit

So there you have it – your crash course in Parisian street apéro culture. Now get out there, soak up the sun, and sip like a local. Remember, it’s not just about the drink, it’s about the company, the ambiance, and the pure joy of being in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Cheers to street drinking in Paris!

Apero here in France is an almost religious affair, I really believe that this is the best budget thing to do in Paris in the Summer. Weather you are with your kids who just need to run around in the Park or kicking off a night out that will head into the early hours of the morning. Drinking on the street has been a corner stone of many of my favourite Parisian memories. I can’t wait to hear your wonderful stories and see the picture you post, make sure to include #eatlikethefrench so I see them!

Chef Tris Portrait Eat Like The French! June 13, 2024
Food Tour Guide
From the bustling streets of Paris to the quiet moments at home, my journey is one of passion, resilience, and a deep love for French cuisine. As Chef Tris, my transformation from a culinary expert and tech recruiter to a local food tour guide in Paris has been a delicious turn of events, blending my professional skills with my personal story of renewal.

Visiting Paris and looking for an expert local food guide, check out our Chef’s Apero Food Tour, a personalised and perfected introduction to french apero culture.

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