I don't know about you guys, but nothing banishes the post-vacation blues like planning your next vacation! It's been only a week since flying back to Toronto from sunny Miami and I've got vacations on the brain. Luckily for me, my like-minded husband took to the computer and before you could say 'impulse buy' our next European getaway was planned: Paris, we will see you in late September.
Paris will always have a soft spot in my heart. I first fell in love during a life-changing Euro trip in my early twenties, and most recently solidified my admiration for the city this past September when I spent a week tearing through the streets of Paris on my honeymoon. You just cannot describe the Parisian charm, and I highly recommend that everyone's bucket list include a trip to Paris.
"Dressing appropriately [in Paris] is not just merely a superficial task - it will actually guarantee you better service and hospitality in any Parisian restaurant, boutique or attraction"
That being said, sitting down and actually planning a packing list for Paris can be a challenge. The Parisians are a proud bunch, and dressing appropriately is not just merely a superficial task - it will actually guarantee you better service and hospitality in any Parisian restaurant, boutique or attraction (trust me - I have learned this the hard way during my days of short-shorts and flip flops in my early twenties). Luckily for you, and my trial and error life experience, I can now confidently formulate a list of essentials to pack for a trip to Paris, to stay comfortable and venue-appropriate.
Pack lots of Black and Stripes -This is not just a stereotype - you will notice lots of simple black dresses, tailored black slacks or modest black skirts paired with a striped top. You really cannot go wrong with black, keeping all packed items simple and tailored. This is not to abolish all colour from your suitcase - stick to one colour to add an accent to your outfits (both red and orange seemed to be the most popular with Parisian women when I last visited.) Keeping all items in your suitcase in a dark colour scheme, mostly solids with a few striped prints, and one or two colours for accent pieces will not only help to blend you in with the Paris locals, but will also make packing and outfit co-ordinating a breeze.
Make sure to include two or three scarves in your suitcase. The time of year you're travelling to Paris will dictate the material the scarves should be - think light silk or cotton in the summer, heavier linen or cotton for the spring and fall, and thick wools for the winter. Scarves are not only essential to Parisian style (honestly - it seems like every woman in Paris is wearing one sometimes), instrumental in outfit selection when working from a suitcase (a simple black dress can work for a number of days if you change your scarf) but are also extremely practical for the temperamental weather of Paris. During our week-long stay in early September, the weather would be absolutely frigid in the mornings, warm considerably in the afternoons and then dip into the colder temperatures in the evenings. Even a light scarf can make it so you're not shivering through your morning espresso.
A Sweater -
For the exact reasons listed above. Paris weather truly does have a mind of it's own and just because it's scorching hot in the afternoons doesn't mean that you won't be freezing once nighttime hits. A couple sweaters thrown into the suitcase can remedy this - I would recommend a light cardigan as well as heavier pullover. Obviously, should your Paris travel plans run over the course of winter then your suitcase will consist of mainly sweaters, but consider taking a few even in the spring and summer months.
Longhamp 'Le Pliage' Bag -
I was absolutely shocked by the number of Longchamp 'Le Pliage' bags I saw on the streets of Paris. Looking back now, it makes total sense - these bags are durable, light, waterproof and above all have a zipper. Pick pockets in Paris, as in most major European cities, are no laughing matter and are very much active in most tourist attractions and public transit. The Longchamp 'Le Pliage' bag not only has a zipper, but also a small leather flap and buckle over top of the zipper for further protection. You could purchase one ahead of time or, seeing as it is a french luxury brand, visit their store in Paris proper and purchase one there (12 Rue Saint-Florentin, Paris, France). A practical tote for your trip and also a beautiful souvenir afterwards.
A Travel Sized Umbrella -
Did I mention that the weather in Paris has a mind of it's own? Sunny one moment, raining another - do yourself a favour and pack a travel sized umbrella and keep it with you at all times. You're welcome.
You are in Paris, you will be walking - a lot. With so much to see and do, you will find yourself on your feet for the majority of the day. A few good pairs of flats, in a soft leather and already broken in will rescue your throbbing feet while still staying within the Parisian dress-code. Resist the urge to pack heels - I can tell you that I packed my most comfortable pair of heels with good intentions and never even used them once, wasting valuable real-estate in my suitcase. Even in the most elegant of restaurants, a simple pair of flats will do just fine - in fact, my entire week in Paris I only saw one woman braving the cobblestones in 5 inch heels, which just screamed 'tourist'. Same goes for any thoughts of running shoes or flip flops - unless you want poor treatment and to experience the famous 'Paris attitude,' just don't - stick to flats.
The truth about Shorts in Paris -
Do not even think about wearing shorts in Paris. I made the mistake of taking to the streets of Paris in short-shorts and flip flops during a Euro-trip in my early twenties and still remember the cold stares and attitude I received. I have since forgiven myself for the honest mistake (hey - I was twenty three and "finding myself"), but the lesson learned was invaluable. Parisians appreciate modesty, and shorts don't fit the bill. The same goes for flip flops, looked at in Paris as sloppy and gives you a tourist bull's eye. The no-short rule also applies to your male travel companions. Save the shorts and flip flops for the cottage - don't bring them to Paris.
And so concludes my list of essentials for travelling to Paris. Please let me know if I'm missing anything - talking packing lists is one of my favourite things to do. If you're reading this in preparation for a trip to Paris then consider me jealous. My last piece of advice is to take a time-out from the manic sight-seeing of all Paris has to offer to really savour the moment. Eat pastries from a corner boulangerie, drink espresso at a crowded bar top or people watch from a shaded patio. Whatever you find yourself doing in Paris, remember to stop and really appreciate the moment - before long you will find yourself on a plane ride home and already dreaming of your next trip to this magical city.