Sun is out, grass is green, now is the time to warm up your garden with the perfectly French garden party. From tablescaping to glorious spreads and the Frenchiest drinks, here are a few of our favourite tips for a champêtre gathering al fresco.
In this article
First things first: the tablecloth
Give your tired garden table the outfit it deserves before considering laying anything on it. There are two ways to set the tone. If you’re after a bright and bold table, a vibrant gingham tablecloth is your go-to, red for the full French cliche. It’s a summer favourite, so you can find one pretty much anywhere.
For a more classic approach, you can’t go wrong with French linen table runners, like this gorgeous stripy number from Straw.
Vintage crockery for a wow factor
Give your table this little je ne sais quoi, thanks to unique tableware found at flea markets. We love to mix and match ancient plates from the finest floral Limoges porcelain to more rustic stoneware in the company of old-school silverware to lift any tablescape, especially outdoors.
For glassware, you don’t have to splash out, charity shops are usually full of great finds that won’t cost the earth. We also like the vintage selection of The Little Paris Shop in Crouch End. Don’t worry if you can’t put your hands on a full set, your table will look even more charming with different wine glasses.
Make it simply delicious
The last thing you want to do is spend the whole day back in the kitchen, so focus all your energy on sourcing the best French cheese and charcuterie around, arranging them in beautifully simple grazing boards your guests can nibble on when they feel like it with a slice of pain de campagne or baguette. To jazz up your French cheese platter like a pro, follow Provision’s founder advice right here.
Then throw in a couple of luscious dips like classic Provencal tapenade, pistou and crunchy crudités with sauce gribiche. Voilà!
Last but not least, if you want to go the extra mile with homemade pudding, then this French apricot and pistachio almond tart recipe is just what you need.
What we’re drinking
To celebrate those glorious summer days, say oui to French wines!
Start with a glass of something bubbly, from unrivaled Champagne to more affordable and equally inviting gems like Crémants, produced in nearly every wine region in France (read our full guide to French sparklings here).
For the ultimate crowd-pleaser, the easy-drinking rosé made in Languedoc from 100% Cinsault by new independent brand Amie is brilliant for these long lunches with friends. Plus the bottle looks beautiful too!
From £60 for a case of 4 bottles, free UK delivery
What about the lighting?
You need lighting for when this lazy sunny afternoon eventually turns into a mellow summer night. Fairy lights are a safe bet, giving your garden a warm glow. For an added guinguette vibe, add a paper streamer garland like this colourful option from Hema. Just string them both along a fence or any foliage you have lying around.