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France: Paris rules on drinking in public places

Friday night in Paris

There is nothing I would rather do on a warm Paris evening than picnic with friends. But we have all seen the police come by demanding  picnickers to put their alcohol away.

This ‘no drinking’ rule seems to apply inconsistently – must we really refrain from sipping that glass of rosé as we picnic in Paris?

I decided it was time to get to the bottom of this and did what perhaps no one has dared to do before: I went to the préfecture to ask. They looked at me as if I were insane. But I did learn one thing: There is a reason for the inconsistency.

Each city’s maire has the right to establish rules to maintain the public order and in Paris the rules differ by arrondissement. Even specific streets may have their own rules!  And there is yet another layer of confusion: no alcohol is permitted in parks owned by the Ville de Paris, except at licensed establishments.

So, unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is to check at the specific préfecture for your neighborhood, (even then, you must hope the flic on patrol is up on the latest regulations).

Refusing to give up, I decided to search for the relevant arrêtés (orders) and go to a few of the local police stations to get the scoop on some of my favorite picnic spots. Not an easy task! So, a little disclaimer: it’s best to check for yourself to be certain of the very latest rules!

These spots do not permit consumption of alcohol:


Jardin du Carrousel (1st)
It’s central, there’s grass that dries quickly after rain, and you have a view of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. This park and the Jardin des Tuileries are privately owned by the Louvre.

Jardin du Palais Royal (1st)
A quiet spot hidden away in the heart of central Paris, not owned by the city but rather is a designated national monument.

Abby Gordon, 02/06/2012

Jardin du Luxembourg (6th)
You can only picnic on the southern lawn towards Observatoire. These gardens are owned by the Senate and alcohol is only permitted at licensed establishments.

CAbby Gordon, 02/06/2012hamps de Mars (7th)
The twinkling of the Eiffel Tower never gets old… but no alcohol is allowed here; they really do enforce it.

Parc Monceau (17th)
Try to avoid lunch hour for the thousands of school children in the area.

Buttes Chaumont (19th)
Especially when the tulips are in bloom. Alcohol is only permitted in designated establishments. (I recommend Rosa Bonheur!)


Along the quais near Pont des Arts (1st, 6th) or on the Rive Droite during ‘Paris Plage’ (1st, 4th)
Remember to bring a blanket because there is no grass. No public drinking is allowed on the quais in the 6th or on the Pont des Arts from 4pm -7am, from May 1 – October 31.

Abby Gordon, 02/06/2012

The quais in the 4th arrondissement are apparently fair game, so most of ‘Paris Plage’ is theoretically a safe zone.

Avenue Breteuil (7th)
Fantastic view of the cathedral at Les Invalides. Overt consumption of alcohol could pose a problem, but the préfecture of the 7th tells me there is a “tolérance” (i.e. enforcement here is not at the same level as in the Champs de Mars).

So, it’s complicated.

The good news is this: if you are having a few peaceful drinks (and not an out-of-control party), most likely the police will just come by and ask you to put away the bottles. You’re unlikely to get dragged off to jail or fined without a warning.


Image Credits:
1. tabula_electronica, on Flickr
2. sacratomato_hr, on Flickr
3 – 5. Abby Gordon

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  1. Avatar of Veronique Savoye
    2 years ago

    You have done your research. Well done. I lived in Paris for 10 years and have returned at least once a year since, and I had no idea. This is good information, merci. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. Avatar of Abby Gordon
    Abby Gordon
    2 years ago

    Thanks, Veronique! Of course, not knowing the rules might actually be the better way!

  3. Avatar of Norma Thiessen
    Norma Thiessen
    2 years ago

    A writer on a mission! Well done Abby.

  4. Avatar of Virginia Jones
    Virginia Jones
    2 years ago

    I enjoyed this article and like others, had no idea that sharing a bottle of wine was not allowed anywhere in Paris!

  5. Avatar of Abby Gordon
    Abby Gordon
    2 years ago

    Thanks, Virginia! Technically not allowed in many (not all) spots in Paris, true, but I for one still take my chances ;-)

  6. Avatar of jenniferwhitney
    2 years ago

    Great article, Abby! Thanks for discussing a timely and relevant issue of Parisien life.