I've been to Paris every month of the year and in every season, so I have a pretty good handle on what you need to pack to enjoy your first trip or your 20th in the city of light. Like everywhere in the world today, environmental changes are wreaking havoc on what used to be the tried-and-true for any particular time of year, but I've got you covered for anything that Mother Nature may throw your way!
Springtime in Paris can be particularly difficult so since I just spent 2 weeks there, I wanted to share what I packed and share what worked and what didn't, or in this case, what I missed!
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For this trip, we stayed in an Airbnb for the first time (more on that to come) and knew we would have access to laundry, so for my 2-week trip, this is what I packed:
3 dresses: 2 t-shirt dresses and 1 little black dress.
4 t-shirts: navy, 2 navy-striped shirts, and black
1 long denim shirt
2 cardigans: navy and black
2 pairs of pants: jeans and Mountain Hardware camp pants
1 rain trench coat
3 pairs of shoes
Whenever I travel, whether it is for work or for play, I pick 1-2 color palettes and stick with them, I told like to think too much! For this trip, it was navy blue and grey.
Let me share my approach for packing for spring in Paris.
Paris is finicky in the spring! This year it snowed on St. Patrick's Day! I know spring is officially March 21st, but that is cutting it close. The week before our trip it was in the '80s, but during the 2 weeks we were there we saw temperatures dipping down in the 40's in the morning, rainy days with temps in the 50's-to-low-60's as well as some sunny days at close to 70. So how do you pack for that? Layers. On the cold days, I wore 2 of my t-shirts (the navy plus one of the navy striped ones) with my navy cardigan and/or my jean shirt. On top of that, I put my rain/trench coat and a scarf. I did the same thing with the dresses I packed. On colder days I wore the jean shirt over it.
What else I should have brought
My mistake here was I also should have brought a light sweater, I could have cut back on the layers and been warmer with less, and I should have packed a pair of leggings to wear under my dresses. On super cold days, I could not wear them. I was not cold in my layers, but I also should have brought a warmer hat, I wore the baseball hat one day when it was pouring, but the other chiller mornings I could have used a ski cap.
While living in France I adopted the habit of wearing scarves and I have amassed hundreds of them in every shape, color, and fabric. To me, this is the most essential item to pack as it is so versatile. I wear them for warmth, to protect me from the sun, to add a pop of color, to sit on, to open door handles with, the perfect travel companion. It is usually the one thing I buy just about every trip I make. I made a vow to not buy any this trip and I almost made it, but partway through the trip I found out I might work a trade show in Orlando (and it's now actually confirmed its for sure) and the staff shirt for the booth is lime green – I decided a need a lightweight scarf in a shade of green to bring because with all the humidity, the air-conditioning will be cranked up and I will need one. Good excuse right?!
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I have bought many, many scarves in Paris over the years and 2 of the ones I packed came from previous trips. The light blue and grey ones came from Galleries Lafayette which always has a great selection, but I have bought them everywhere, from expensive boutiques and chain stores to outdoor markets and tourist shops. They are lightweight, easy to pack, and also make a great gift.
Wow! How important is this?! We usually walk way more than 10,000 steps a day so having comfortable shoes was an absolute must. I mainly pack selections from my Jambu collection. I find them to be super comfortable and I have boots and sandals from this brand.
In my day-to-day life, I love my Converse kicks, I have them in blue and black, am forever looking for a nice shade of red, and recently bought green to go with my booth staff t-shirt. I've worn them many times on many trips, but never, ever did I think about putting inserts into them to make them actually comfortable (for long days of walking, because otherwise, they are truly comfy) until I read a post from Kristin's husband, the hunky Scott V-Squared on Camels & Chocolate, a diehard Converse fan as well. I bought a Cooper compression insert (I hurt my arm last year in Yellowstone and their compression sleeve for my elbow was awesome) and it is like I am walking on pillows! I have them in my Ecco boots and all my Converse now.
I decided to bring a red tote bag I got in Kyoto for a pop of color. Of course, it also serves a very utilitarian purpose – carrying stuff! The bags that you get at the outdoor markets and retail shops aren't always the greatest quality and often fall apart before you get back to your hotel room, or in this case, rented apartments. In addition, I always save plastic bags from the better patisseries and traiteurs which are perfect for rainy weather and carry other groceries. On this trip I also bought a Paris tote bag from a tourist shop because I wanted it for future photos. Tote bags are indispensable to have on hand and I always pack them wherever I go.
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I also had my Ona camera bag. I have 2, for this trip, I brought my ONA Prince Street in beautiful crimson red because it has a waxed canvas that holds up really well in the rain. My other Ona bag, a Bowery in field tan is an older model that doesn't have the waxed canvas and so it got quite a beating a few years ago in Seattle so I am cautious about bringing it out in wet weather (the newer versions of this bag have the waxed canvas now).
Trust me on this one. Whenever I visit any country in Europe I make sure I have a heavy-duty coin purse. You may start off with a decent amount of bills, but you will inevitably end up with a lot of coins! I had one I bought while working in Switzerland that has two sides. On one side I keep my 1 and 2 Euro coins and on the other side, I keep the 5, 10, 20, and 50 centime coins. That makes things “a little” faster when paying.
I don't go anywhere foreign or domestic without digestive enzymes. From restaurants servings bad food to over-indulging on vacation, there is always a reason for me to have these in my car, backpack, camera bag, purse, and suitcase. For the past 10+ years, they have rescued me so many times, I can't even tell you and I never leave home without them. There are 2 brands that I stick to Rainbow advanced digestive enzymes and Renew Life Probiotics. I swear by these!
Fin! That's what I packed for my trip to Paris. I never seem to get it 100% right, but I certainly do try!
How about you? Do you have any Paris packing tips? Or general pro packing tips? Do tell!
I am married to a French man, lived in France for 3 years, and have been to Paris more than 50 times. I am always a tourist so the information, tip, and tricks I share are created to help you!
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- Look for fares using sites like Skyscanner or Expedia.com.
- For France (Paris) coming from the West Coast, I typically fly Air France or United. From the East Coast, I typically fly Air France or Delta.
- If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. Not only will you have a spot to relax before your flight and charge your devices, but you can eat and drink for free (without paying crazy airport prices!)
- I use Expedia.com, Booking.com, and Hotels.com to find lodging. Always check the reviews on TripAdvisor before booking!
- For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. When traveling in Europe, I use AutoEurope to make reservations. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. I typically book with Sixt.
- For transportation from the CDG airport to anywhere within Paris, consider pre-booking with Get Transfer. It is one way to be stress-free and you can request an English-speaking driver.
- Tours + Atractions
- I book tours with companies like Viator and GetYourGuide. Both have a wide variety of activities for every travel style. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
- If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City.
- Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities.
- If you are looking to buy tickets to attractions, check out Tiquet.
- Don't Forget Travel Photos
- One of my favorite things to do is to get photos taken of me while on vacation. Flytographer is a great option with photographers all over the world.
- Peace of Mind
- It’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. I always travel with insurance and would recommend SafetyWing, SquareMouth or Travelex Insurance are good options.
- Should you have any trouble with flight delays to the extent you feel you deserve compensation, I encourage you to check out and use AirHelp. I used them and for 1 claim I got compensated (transparency: a 2nd claim did not, but I was still glad I tried!).