For so many years, I have admired how the Europeans including the French take time to embrace life. They spend time in cafés or in other public areas visiting with their friends or enjoying a cup of coffee, tea or a glass of wine. They enjoy spending time in their local parks, and this allows them to live “la belle vie” in France, the good life, or as the Italians say “la bella vita.”
Just hearing those words…the good life reminds me to slow down and enjoy the simpler things. I think this fits in very well with the Luxe du Jour philosophy of living life luxuriously and taking time to enjoy the good life.
Have you noticed that the Europeans tend to get on their bikes, instead of driving everywhere? They not only get some enjoyable exercise but can spend quality time relaxing in their parks, at a cafe or do a little shopping. I noticed that they enjoy picnics, too.
If you know me or have read any of my posts on Napa Valley or our many trips to Tuscany, you would know that we LOVE to picnic. There is something about getting out there and enjoying a meal in a beautiful setting. It takes a little time to plan what to bring, and to select just the right spot but is worth every minute.
Since we retired, I am making a concentrated effort to spend more time living like the Europeans. It is crucial to “uplug” sometimes and to just enjoy what nature has to offer. I have worked for so long that it is taking some time to get used to embracing retirement mode.
I recently went through the loss of my mother, and it was a very stressful time. One thing that made me calm in between trips back-and-forth to Michigan was riding my bike to my favorite local park, spreading out a blanket and enjoying some relaxation. It helped to relieve some of my stress, and it made the situation a little easier to endure. I would stop at my favorite sandwich shop to pick up some eats.
Sometimes the hubs joins me, as he really enjoys a picnic, too. He thinks I am a bit “over the top” when I put spa music or classical music on my phone to make the outing more special and relaxing.
One thing that I have always wanted is a traditional wicker bike basket. This would make taking my picnic items to the park easier, and it definitely feels very European, and stylish. I recently purchased a Nantucket Bike Basket (I know it is not from Europe, but it is really cute). I put my blanket and a few other items in there and bring another bag for the food items. I like to carry my picnic items in my La Maison Francaise tote bag. I got it at Sur La Table and it is perfect for carrying your groceries from the market, or for picnic provisions. Also, it is lined with a waterproof finish for easy cleaning. Go to: https://www.surlatable.com.
All I need is a cutting board, sharp knife, and a couple of plates, forks, napkins, and some yummy treats. I love some of the condiments from Stonewall Kitchen and usually go to my local cheese shop for cheeses and a fresh baguette.
Here is the list of items I find are easy to transport, and makes for a lovely picnic experience:
- Selection of cheeses
- Proscuitto or ham
- Campari tomatoes
- Apples or grapes
- Marinated artichokes or mini caprese salad
- A small bottle of olive oil for dipping
- Fig spread, champagne mustard or another condiment to spread on the bread
- Sparkling water (I don’t think that wine is permitted at the park or I would bring a nice, crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir)
- Sometimes I make Orzo Greek Salad or bring crackers, and Artichoke Jalapeno spread from Trader Joe’s. If you have not tried this spread, you must. It is so delicious! https://www.traderjoes.com
- If you like dessert or something sweet, I LOVE the LaFermiere brand yogurt. Or, sometimes I bring biscotti or cookies. The LaFermiere yogurt is so delicious and comes in cute little terra cotta crocks or clear glass containers. Some of the crocks are even French blue and can be reused. If you go to their site at http://www.lafermiere.us, you will find more information on this incredible product. The pressed lemon, vanilla, and raspberry, and blueberry are my favorite flavors. I just purchased the orange blossom honey, and cannot wait to try it.
I always bring a book, but sometimes it is nice to just take in the scenery. There are lots of ducks and other birds in the park, and it is enjoyable to watch them.
Next time I go on a picnic, I will share some pictures. What a great way to spend part of your day. Why not get a little exercise while biking and then relax with a nice nosh to follow. Bon Appetit!