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Look to the sidewalk bistros of Paris for a picnic spread that’s as inspired as it is stylish

Relax, it’s springtime.

It’s warm enough to pack a picnic and take things outdoors—but it’s all about effortless elegance, the type exemplified best by Parisian bistros.

Take inspiration from those breezy sidewalk cafés, of-the-moment NYC restaurants Claudette and Cherche Midi, as well as Crate and Barrel’s spring collection for your next picnic, from the food to the drinks to the stylish setting, dressed up with different textures and patterns in a blue, white and gray color scheme.

You may hear “picnic” and automatically think park or beach, but terrace or backyard affairs are equally charming. Simply work with the space you have to create pockets of comfortable seating with plush pillows and layered rugs or blankets. Set out serving boards piled high—and then it’s all about popping bottles of rosé Champagne.

Featured products from Crate and Barrel. Click to shop.

Pro Tip: Skip the perfectly arranged flowers, which feel way too fussy, in favor of something more low key. We placed bunches of fresh herbs in Crate and Barrel Weck Jars for a help-yourself flavor booster that doubles as decor.

Let your guests serve themselves from gorgeous wooden and marble boards—you want this to be a chill, communal affair.

The centerpiece of the meal is a crisp, stunner of a composed salad inspired by the classic niçoise (get the recipe). This version has thick slices of deliciously juicy, chilled roast chicken—which can be made up to two days ahead—instead of tuna. Arrange all of the ingredients—soft-boiled eggs, potatoes, haricots verts and more—in eye-catching rows so that guests can mix and match to their liking.

Pro Tip: A few opulent touches like these Crate and Barrel gold-rimmed “Savannah” plates and gold or rose gold flatware add major polish. Balancing shiny metallics with a bit of urban galvanized tin makes for a thoroughly modern look.

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You’re going to need something to dunk that salad in. A thick, rich herb aioli, packed with basil, parsley and chives, isn’t just full of bright, fresh flavor, it’s also easier to transport and less likely to spill than a vinaigrette.

Not to mention it’s ridiculously quick to make (thanks to a hand from your trusty blender) and so delicious that you’ll want to slather it on everything from sandwiches to roasted meats. Get the recipe.

You’ve stocked up on luxurious Camembert, nutty Comté and creamy Roquefort for your spread. Serve them with a side dish that toes the line between salad and pickle: Pile ribbons of Carrots Aigre-Doux (sweet-and-sour carrots dressed with apple vinegar and honey) alongside your cheese board to balance all that richness with a hit of acid and brightness. Watch the video to see how simple it is to make the perfect ribbons.

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The galette is France’s answer to apple pie—rustic, not too sweet and simply satisfying. Springtime’s coveted vegetable, rhubarb, is the star here, brushed with lavender-infused strawberry jam to balance its natural tartness.

The dessert is also easier than pie to make—from mixing the simple buttery dough to laying down the gorgeous chevron pattern. Watch the video to see how it’s done (get the recipe here), then watch those Instagram likes add up.

Bubbly may as well be the official drink of Paris, and serving it in vintage-inspired glasses like these Camille coupes from Crate and Barrel only adds to its charm. Plus, sticking to bottles of sparkling wine translates to effortless entertaining at its best: Open a variety of bottles, stash them on ice (or insert a Corkcicle Air® to keep them chilled) and let guests go to town.

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  • Butter + Herbs = Better
  • Mandoline = Superior Salad
  • Dough Scraps = Easy Snacks

Details are what make a party memorable. Check out these videos for easy hacks that will ensure your friends will be talking about your picnic for months to come, from rolling your butter in herbs to the must-have tool for an elegant salad. Plus, get a genius idea for elegant, edible party favors.

Use any extra galette dough to make bite-size cookies topped with lavender sugar that you can send home with guests. Watch a quick demo.

We tucked them into tiny kraft boxes (available at craft stores), tied each one with twine and “garnished” with a fresh herb sprig.

GET THE RECIPES

Salad Niçoise with Cold Roasted Chicken


Green Herb Aioli


Carrots Aigre-Doux


Rhubarb Galette with Strawberry-Lavender Glaze

Photography by William Hereford; prop styling by Stephanie Hanes; recipe styling by Michelle Gatton; recipes by Mira Evnine; words by Nicole Cherie Jones

Crate and Barrel provided the product featured here and sponsored this post.

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