A picnic is a whole-day event and a pleasure enjoyed throughout the ages by every social class. A well-filled picnic basket for your déjeuner sur l’herbe is just one of the many things you need. A stylish still life, set against a country landscape, does indeed require good food – but equally as important are an appropriate outfit (complete with hat and dress) and a luxurious blanket, so that this casual amusement is transformed into a spectacle for all the senses. In the 17th century, Louis XIV elevated the humble picnic to an elaborate feast. Masters of ceremonies arranged the outdoor banquet so that it became an opulent still life complete with music, dancing and fireworks.
The English picnic, on the other hand, focused on casual enjoyment. Though that’s not entirely true. People would go to the place with the best view – and they would be very well equipped: with a buffet table, stools, a portable gazebo, porcelain, silver cutlery and damask serviettes, cushions for the ladies (who never sat directly on the blanket – that was just for men and children). It was Queen Victoria who caused the real hype around beautifully arranged yet simple dishes eaten in the open countryside. She picnicked with a passion, incognito and en petit comité. She took along nothing but a well-filled basket, handily equipped with deckchairs, and her husband.
We have compiled a very modern list for your next picnic. Your absolute essentials: sun hat, sandals and an easy-going look.