Crusty bread, crispy vegetables, fragrant cheese and delicate rosé wine, rounded off with luscious patisserie - French picnics are indeed the stuff that dreams are made of, says Jenni Muir

Crudité vegetables, £2.95 bunch baby carrots, £2.50 bunch radishes, £7.95 per kilo green beans

Crudité vegetables, £2.95 bunch baby carrots, £2.50 bunch radishes, £7.95 per kilo green beans

A platter of crudités or mixed raw vegetables served with a classy dip or two is a terrific way to start a picnic, and nourishing too. You need not restrict the choice to baby carrots, beans and radishes - wedges of fennel add an authentic French flavour. Blanch some of the veg first if you prefer.

Villandry, 170 Great Portland Street, London W1. www.villandry.com, Tel: 020 7631 3131.

Black olive tapenade, £4.50 190g jar

Black olives are the authentic choice for Provençal tapenade, though it's the capers (tapeno) that give this full-flavoured paste its name. Great with crudités, it can also be used as a topping for hard-boiled eggs, or as a garnish for grilled meat or fish.

Villandry, 170 Great Portland Street, London W1. www.villandry.com, Tel: 020 7631 3131.

Poilâne bread, £3.73 per kilo

The classic Poilâne stone-ground wheat sourdough loaf weighs about 1.9kg but is sold in halves and quarters for smaller appetites. A light rye bread is also available and, like the wheat sourdough, works very well with picnic fare such as smoked fish and meats, and seafood dishes such as the langoustine salad.

Poilâne, 46 Elizabeth Street, London SW1. www.poilane.fr, Tel: 020 7808 4910.

Comté d'Estive, £22.50 per kilo

Some people get a little nervous about French cheese, but Comté from the Franche-Comté region has broad appeal - or it would do if more people knew about it. La Fromagerie's Comté is usually 24 months of age, and a minimum of 18 months old.

Where: Branches of La Fromagerie, www.lafromagerie.co.uk, Tel: 020 7935 0341.

Crayfish in mayonnaise, £28 per kilo

A surprising and thoroughly luxurious alternative to pâtés or smoked salmon, this voluptuous salad of pretty sweet crayfish in real mayonnaise provides a hearty element to a picnic spread while appealing to any meat-avoiders. It is very easy to make your own, but the dish is also sold ready-made from Fortnum and Mason's deli-counter and a tub to feed four people will cost under a tenner.

Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1, www.fortnumandmason.com, Tel: 020 7734 8040.

Olivier cornichons, £3.95

The French traditionally serve cornichons (pickled baby cucumbers) and other crunchy sour pickles as a contrast to rich foods such as cheese and terrines. It's not just to please the palate - the acid in the pickles helps to make fatty foods easier to digest.

The Fine Cheese Company, 29 & 31 Walcot Street, Bath. www.finecheese.co.uk, Tel: 01225 448748.

Cheese straws and anchovy puff straws, 30p each cheese straws; £1.90 per 100g anchovy puff straws

Moreishly flaky and buttery, cheese straws add joie de vivre to pre-meal nibbles. Sally Clarke's elegant twisted batons are flavoured with cheddar and mustard. Also available on the shop's canapé menu are pungent little anchovy puff straws, made from a mixture of anchovies and black olives.

Clarke's, 122 Kensington Church Street, London W8, www.sallyclarke.com, Tel: 020 7229 2190.

Custard tart, £11.80

French women don't hesitate to buy ready-made patisserie, especially for family meals at the weekend. Pulling out a beautiful beribboned box with rich, golden custard tart inside will turn any outdoor meal into a sumptuous feast.

Poilâne, 46 Elizabeth Street, London SW1. www.poilane.fr, Tel: 020 7808 4910.

French apricots, £3.49 for 680g punnet, or £6.99 per kilo

Waitrose's pretty red-blushed apricots are sweet, succulent, thin-skinned, and not floury in texture like some others. They are grown at Château Perouse, a family-run farm in the Rhône Valley in France, where the orchards are individually named, allowing full traceability from farm to shelf.

Branches of Waitrose.

André Neveu Sancerre Rosé 2002, £15

Summer is the time for rosé wines - their pinkness seems to turn any picnic into a party. If you have always wondered why anyone bothers with the light, delicate rosés of Provence, try this Sancerre-type from the Loire. A good mid-point between whites and red, it is robust and full of fruit flavour.

Villandry, 170 Great Portland Street, London W1. www.villandry.com, Tel: 020 7631 3131.

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