Pack the perfect picnic

Family picnic

Derived from the French word ‘pique-nique’.

Originally the term picnic was used to describe ‘a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine’. Nowadays the Wikipedia definition is a much more familiar one.

‘a meal taken outdoors (al fresco) as part of an excursion – ideally in scenic surroundings, such as a park, lakeside, or other place affording an interesting view..’



When it is too warm to dine indoors, and you don’t want the hassle of lighting the barbecue, going for a picnic is a really practical solution. Here in France it might involve a trip out in the car, or more often than not, a gentle bike ride along quiet country lanes.

For children picnics mean adventure with sandwiches and a packet of crisps. And they can be just as enjoyable for the adults. All your favourite snacks, a flask of tea, and a comfortable blanket for the perfect post-picnic snooze.

The fantastic location of Bel-Air Gites, means it’s only a short drive to beaches, woodlands or lakes. Plenty of family friendly options for a pre-planned or impromptu picnic. And you don’t have to worry about the weather here either. Summer days in the sunny Charente-Maritime are wonderfully hot, with very little chance of rain.

What to take

Food-wise, finger foods are the best option, especially for the kids. No plates or cutlery to pack, they can pick what they want, when they want it. The most classic picnic foods are sandwiches, fruits, salad, crisps, pies, and cold meats. If you have a cool box better still, as you can use it to store things out of the sun, especially drinks, meats, or anything with mayonnaise.

A cold, refreshing picnic drink can add the finishing touch to your outdoor meal. Drink plenty of fluids, especially when you are active outside and exposed to the heat of the sun. Water flavoured with slices of lemon is very refreshing, healthy and cheap. You can take a few assorted child-friendly bottles of water or fruit juice. And maybe a bottle of wine or beers for the non-driving adults (don’t forget the bottle opener!)

Fun and Games

Playing games can be beneficial and fun for both parents and kids. Card games are easy for everyone to play on a picnic. There are so many to choose from, depending on the children’s ages. Ball games are also fun, active and entertaining. If you take other games, just try not to take anything with lots of pieces that can get lost or left behind.

If you do decide to take cutlery and plates remember there might not be anywhere to wash them. So plates used for messy main meals will need to be wiped down with kitchen roll, or something similar if you are going to have something for dessert.

Parasols and Sun-creams

A parasol or large umbrella will let you enjoy the outdoor picnic when the sun heats up or if it starts to rain. This can also be a shelter for your food and belongings while you go and play football with the kids.

Always put sunscreen on children and adults to prevent the skin from burning. Sunburn is extremely painful and can cause long-term skin damage. Make sure it’s high-factor for the best protection. You might want to take a bug spray or insect repellent too. Bugs are the uninvited picnic guest, and using and insect repellent or bug spray is the most effective way to get rid of them.

Something to sit on

If you have folding chairs these will be much more convenient, especially for older adults. Otherwise take blanket or quilt, and take a vinyl tablecloth to put underneath. It’s helps keep the blanket clean and makes it a bit more comfortable than sitting on the ground.

To be honest when we decide to go for an impromptu picnic, we take whatever fits in our rucksacks. This usually consists of an old travel rug, french bread with various fillings and plenty of drinks. Then we head off either in the car or on the bikes. Quick and easy, with little or no preparation.

But if you want to make wonderful family memories, then a little careful planning and consideration goes a long way. Your children will remember their amazing fun-filled family holiday at Bel-Air Gites for a very long time.

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