One of my favorite ways to enjoy an authentic but still cheap meal in a foreign country is to go to a grocery store or specialty food shop, collect some local goodies, and have a picnic. Whether you find a nice leafy park or just a bench on the side of a city street, it’s the perfect way to try some delicious local food and drink while taking in some scenery. (all photos via Julie Kominski)

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We did exactly this in celebration of my birthday during my semester abroad in Paris. A few of my girlfriends and I picked up cheese, bread, fruit, and wine, and headed over to a park near the Eiffel Tower, where we spent a delightful afternoon eating, drinking, and people-watching.

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The whole meal probably cost us all of $20, and provided the six of us hours of dining pleasure in the center of one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Do you know what you’d have to pay for a restaurant meal with this view??

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There are a few important things to bear in mind when picnicking in a foreign country:
  1. Make sure you know the open container laws – France doesn’t have one, so we were able to enjoy our wine al fresco, but many countries do not permit drinking of alcohol outside.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings – don’t plant yourself in a sports field; don’t sit too close to car, bike, or foot traffic; look out for suspicious people, especially at night.
  3. Take all your trash with you when you leave – there’s nothing worse than a litterbug!
As long as you’re mindful of where you are and what you’re consuming, a picnic is a wonderful way to get to know the food, people, and nature of a new place.  — Molli PS. Oldways is going to France!

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