Divine Dinner Party

French Picnic Food Menu: Easy and Elegant!

Most picnic food tends to be simple, homey type fare. And while a French picnic is really the epitome of simple, it's also a lot more elegant than most afternoon picnic menus. With a nice loaf of crusty bread, some French cheeses, sliced fruit, and a bottle of wine, you just can't go wrong.
French Picnic Food

Want plan a French picnic for a romantic date or a relaxed Saturday evening with a group of friends? The easy picnic menu you'll find here has everything you need. And it's flexible, too! Don't feel like cooking up the savory bread and the dessert? Then simply bring some extra French bread and buy some strawberries for your picnic dessert. It's hard to go wrong!

If you like this you may like my Italian Picnic Menu, or some of the other tasty picnic menus here at DDP!

Simple but Elegant French Picnic Menu

Main Dish:

  • Selection of French cheeses (see below)
  • Duck pate
  • Green olive tapenade
  • French bread
  • Savory Ham, Port, and Gruyere Olive Bread, cubed for snacking (recipe below)
  • Pear and apple slices and grapes

  • Served with:
  • French Wine of Choice (see below for options)


  • Palmiers (recipe below)
  • Ripe strawberries

  • Served with:
  • Chilled Champagne

Notes on Choosing Wines and Cheeses

The wines that will go best with your picnic food will depend mostly on the kind of cheeses you serve. In general, you want to match up strong cheeses with strong wines, and milder cheese with lighter wines. If most of your French cheese selection is of the light-flavored, creamy kind, you'll want to go with a dry white wine or a fruity red, such as a Beaujolais. If you're including more strongly-flavored foods or pungent cheeses with your picnic foods, opt for a Burgundy or Bordeaux. Don't know which way to go? With this menu, a bottle of a good, fruity Beaujolais is always a nice compromise.

Serving just one cheese? Here are some good wine suggestions for some of the most common French cheeses:

  • Roquefort: This cheese is so strong it pairs best with a heavy wine such as Port or Sauternes
  • Cambert and Brie: Champagne, a dry white, or Burgundy Red, Bordeaux or Beaujolais
  • Boursin: Dry white wine or a fruity red like a Beaujolais
  • Reblochon: A white wine (Savoie is good), or a Beaujolais
  • Pont l'Evèque: Pinot Noir or Pomerol

Savory Ham, Port, and Gruyere Olive Bread Recipe

Ham and Olive Bread with Port Wine Recipe Cold Picnic FoodTexture-wise, this quickbread is reminiscent of a beer bread or something similar. It's dense and chewy and wonderful. Serve it in slices with cheese or a savory spread, or cut into cubes to serve alongside a cheese tray as a picnic food. It even makes wonderful sandwiches.

You can sub 1 tsp dried rosemary for the fresh, but fresh is better! Recipe makes one loaf.

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4 lg. eggs
1 2/3 C. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 C. good-quality olive oil
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 C. dry white wine
1/4 C. port wine
1/2 C. pitted green olives, halved
2 C. chopped ham
2 C. cubed gruyere cheese
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 -1 tsp. salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Instructions: 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 11x4-inch loaf pan or 9" cake pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until pale and fluffy. Stir the flour, baking powder, olive oil, butter, white wine, and port wine into the eggs.

3. Add the ham, cheese, olives, rosemary, salt and pepper. Stir until mixed.

4. Bake uncovered until golden brown and fully risen.

5. Let cool completely before serving. Serve at room temperature.

Picnic Dessert Recipe: Easy Puff Pastry Palmiers

Palmiers French Cookies for a Picnic DessertThese perfect little picnic desserts are light, addictive, and ridiculously easy to make. The recipe is also flexible, so have fun with it. Add an ultra thin layer of jam or a delicate sprinkling of grated chocolate before rolling your palmiers. Or eat plain with cinnamon and sugar, as described here. Either way, they're delicious-- this is a famous French cookie recipe you'll make again and again. And a practically perfect picnic food.

These burn easily, so watch them closely. Every oven is different, and yours may need more or less time than stated in the recipe. Makes about 50 cookies.

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2 sheets (8 oz. total) frozen puff pastry
2 C. granulated sugar
Cinnamon & sugar mixture, as desired (optional)

Instructions: 1. Thaw puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator (you can thaw it outside, but be sure it's very cold before using).

2. If necessary, roll your puff pastry out to a 1/8" thickness. Most puff pastry sheets are already about that thick.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

4. Sprinkle sugar all over the counter-- kind of like you were about to knead bread dough (but no kneading!). Place one puff pastry sheet on top of the sugar. Keep the other sheet in the fridge until needed.

5. Sprinkle top of puff pastry with more sugar.

6. To shape your palmiers, fold each end of pastry just over halfway to the middle. The two sides should be folded towards each other, but there should be almost half the width of the pastry sheet between them.

7. Fold the puff pastry sheet so the two folded ends meet in the middle, kind of like closing a book.

8. With a very sharp knife, cut your folded pastry into 1/2" (or just a bit thinner) slices. Place on your parchment-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sugar or your cinnamon sugar mixture.

9. Bake 6 or 7 minutes. Turn cookies and sprinkle with a bit more sugar or cinnamon sugar. Bake 3-5 minutes more, until edges are golden and center is cooked.

10. Cook completely on wire racks.

Just try to eat only one of these tasty little picnic desserts!

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