France: Paris rules on drinking in public places

Abby Gordon - drinking in public places in ParisThere is nothing I would rather do on a warm Paris evening than to picnic with friends. But we’ve all seen the police come by and demand that picnickers put their alcohol away.

The ‘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 neighbourhood. 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 the consumption of alcohol

Jardin du Carrousel

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 Carrousel
Place du Palais Royal, 75001 Paris
Metro: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre

Jardin du Palais Royal

A quiet spot hidden away in the heart of central Paris, not owned by the city but rather is a designated national monument.

Jardin du Palais Royal
1st arrondissement, Paris
Metro: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre

Abby Gordon, 02/06/2012

Jardin du Luxembourg

You can only picnic on the southern lawn towardsObservatoire. These gardens are owned by the Senate and alcohol is only permitted at licensed establishments.

Jardin du Luxembourg
Rue de Médicis – Rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
Metro: Odéon

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

Champs de Mars
Quai Branly – Avenue de la Motte Picque, 75007 Paris
Metro: École Militaire

Parc Monceau

Try to avoid lunch hour for the thousands of school children in the area.

Parc Monceau
Boulevard de Courcelles, 75008 Paris
Metro: Monceau

Buttes Chaumont

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

Buttes Chaumont
Rue Manin, 75019 Paris
Metro: Buttes-Chaumont


Along the quais near Pont des Arts or on the Rive Droite during Paris Plage

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 1 May – 31 October. The quais in the fourth arrondissement are apparently fair game, so most of ‘Paris Plage’ is theoretically a safe zone.

Pont des Arts
Links le quai de Conti and the quai des Tuileries, 75001 Paris
Metro: Pont Neuf
Rive Droite (right bank)
1st and 4th arrondissements, Paris
Metro: Tuileries, Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, Louvre – Rivoli, Châtelet, Saint-Paul

Abby Gordon, 02/06/2012

Avenue Breteuil

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).

Avenue Breteuil
7th arrondissement, Paris
Metro: Sèvres – Lecourbe, Duroc, or Ségur

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.

Do you have any tips on the rules and regulations in Paris? Share them with us in the comments box below!

Read more about French gardens: Jardins Remarquables, Versailles, Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil and more!

Image Credits
1. Friday night in Paris by Esa L, via Flickr
2. Jardin du Carrousel by sacratomato_hr, via Flickr
3 – 5. Courtesy of Abby Gordon

About the Contributor

Abby Gordon

“I’m American who has lived in Paris since 2007. I’m also the author of and photographer for a blog offering practical information and no-nonsense opinions to help you explore Paris and organize day trips and weekend trips from Paris. If you would like to view more of my photos, please visit my site.”

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  1. frenchgirlinseattle Jun 15, 2012 at 2:30 PM - Reply

    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. Abby Gordon Jun 15, 2012 at 4:25 PM - Reply

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

  3. Norma Thiessen Jun 16, 2012 at 4:10 AM - Reply

    A writer on a mission! Well done Abby.

  4. Abby Gordon Jun 18, 2012 at 4:48 PM - Reply

    Thank you, Norma!

  5. Virginia Jones Jun 28, 2012 at 11:56 PM - Reply

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

  6. Abby Gordon Jun 29, 2012 at 12:12 AM - Reply

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

  7. jenniferwhitney Jul 3, 2012 at 1:33 AM - Reply

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

  8. Abby Gordon Jul 3, 2012 at 3:43 PM - Reply

    Thank you, Jennifer!

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