If your first worry while planning a trip to Paris is what to pack and what to wear, I am pretty sure the next item on the “worry list” is what bag to bring.
The answer, in my opinion, is it is a good idea to bring more than one! While visiting Paris, you want to make sure you have all of your travel essentials with you! And you need something functional to put those personal items in!
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It also needs to be safe. Paris is a big city. There is crime and definitely a lot of pickpockets.
Here are my go-to bags for visiting Paris.
The French use Euros which is largely coined base. Sure you will get 20, 50, or even 100 Euro bills to start, but the first time you buy something you will get back a handful of coins!
(Note: try NOT to get those 50 and 100-note bills, no one can really make change for them! Nor do they want to).
I recommend a coin purse with 2 sides, one for your 1-and-2 Euro coins (even the 50 centimes) along with your bills and one for the 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 centimes coins.
I keep the coin purse separate from the other items in my bag and only pull it out when I need it. If it's cool enough to wear a jacket, I will sometimes keep the coin purse in my pocket (as long as I am not in a super touristy area).
It's harder than you think to find a double-sided one, here are a few of my favorites:
- I like these double-sided coin purses from imeetu, the metal bee on the outside reminds me of the Napoleonic bee, très French!
- This beautiful geometric tapestry double pocket change pouch matches my red tote bag!
- I absolutely LOVE these homemade coin purses from Shusha Handmade!
- The vintage hide leather in this Hobo coin purse means it will last forever! (It isn't double-sided though.)
- Another vintage leather one that only has one coin purse would still work, as it fits bills and even cards if you prefer to carry them all together. I love the red!
Small Travel Wallet with Strap
I use one that is large enough to fit my important items: my passport, a few credit cards, and my cell phone. Even if I don't walk around with my passport, when I am going from Point A to Point B, I want my wallet to be big enough to accommodate it.
With the strap, I am able to wear it comfortably and not have to worry about someone snatching it from me. I arrange it inside a larger bag and pull it out when I need the essentials. I don't have to open my bag up and search.
These are easier to find and come in a wide range and are known also as crossbody phone bags.
Here are some of my favorites:
- I used this Haute Shore cell phone bag called the Casey Yacht in navy in Paris and Lisbon and absolutely LOVE it. It has also now become my go-to when I am home and don't want to bring my whole purse when I head out for errands. They carry a pretty green one called Spruce and a taupe one on Amazon.
- This one from Mochi Things has proven to be a good little bag!
Bigger than a crossbody wallet, this is one of the best purses for carrying your essentials and all your other bags. I like to have an adjustable shoulder strap so that I can have easy access to it and keep my hands free for other things.
This is a good choice for when you’re out and about and don’t want to carry a lot of stuff with you. I like to have a variety of pockets and sections (along with the main compartment) so that I can organize it by need. Then I memorize where everything is so I don't have to hunt down items leaving myself vulnerable to getting my bag stolen.
As far as security features go, these sections must be zippable.
When I am done in the store or coffee shop, I put it on the inside of my coat (which is why I prefer it to have an adjustable strap) or put it back in my bigger bag. It just makes life a little bit easier.
The best crossbody bags are messenger bags. I use a small messenger bag that I got a while back from Jambu. Unfortunately, they don't carry it anymore.
I also have several sizes of messenger bags from Timbuk2. A company I fell in love with while living in San Francisco. They are extremely eco-conscious and will fix or replace your bag if anything should happen. Something Mr. Misadventures and I have tested out.
Here are some of my favorites:
- The Revive Nylon Foldover Crossbody bag from Quince is also excellent. They also have a little bigger Camera Crossbody to well, accommodate a [small] camera!
- I loved the Casey Yacht from Haute Shore so much that I just picked up the slightly bigger Drew Yacht in navy as well.
For all the shopping! You can have several of them in different colors in your bigger day bag and pull them out as needed. I like to have more than one so that I can separate things I buy: food versus other things; meat separated from fruits and vegetables, or fragile pastries separated from other heavier items.
I also like to balance the weight of my purchases. Having multiple bags allows me to carry things on both shoulders or both sides of my body.
Most stores, bakeries, and pastry shops in Paris will provide you with a bag. However, I find that they are often small and not always very sturdy. It’s always best to have your own just in case.
For me, one of the most important things to take into consideration is that these bags are compact so I can carry several at a time. Here are some of my favorites.
- I have several and love these ones from Rock Flower Paper.
- I like these colorful 24-7 reusable bags from Earth Easy.
- The June's market bag from Madewell is good as well.
One bag to rule them all. I put all the bags I listed above (except maybe the cross-body, although I do also put my crossbody bag into bigger tote bags too!) into the tote bag when I leave my hotel/apartment.
When I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking, or taking public transportation, or if the weather is not great, I bring a tote bag. It’s just big enough to fit everything I need without being too bulky or cumbersome.
Confession. I may be addicted to tote bags! It is my top pick for what you need in Paris. They are so multi-functional and come in so many varieties including fancy ones like my friend Kasia creates.
They are a fun souvenir and a great way to express your personality. I feel like this is the universal bag for travel guides and there must be a reason for that!
They come in all sizes to accommodate your needs and usually fold down to a decent size. I have waterproof ones for the rain too! Depending on what I am doing I will have my coin purse, travel wallet, and reusable sacks, along with a water bottle (lightweight or even a platypus) when it is warm.
I have a lot and am always on the lookout for more as they are my go-to for many situations. Here are a few of my favorites.
- This MZ Wallace Medium Tote Bag is the ultimate! Perfect for travel and folds up into its own carrier, j'adore!
- Love this navy blue tote from Vera Bradley (plus it isn't as expensive as the MZ Wallace one…) it is perfect for the plane on the way to Paris as well as a daily tote! It comes in a ton of colors!
- I have this Reusable Day Tote from J.Crew – I even got it monogrammed with MWA (Misadventures with Andi) in red!
- Beautiful upcycled bags for a good cause…military families! Check out these bags from R. Riveter tote bags!
- When it rains the last thing you want is all your stuff getting wet, I have 2 water-resistant totes, one I got in St Malo so you can't get it here, and this one from NNEE.
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BONUS: A few extra bags I like to have!
If you overshop while in Paris and find you don't have enough space in your suitcase, the Longchamp bag is the perfect solution for going home. It folds up to the size of a book in your suitcase on the way in and is sturdy enough to put all your dirty clothes in on the way home (and leave the more valuable things for your suitcase!). I have several sizes of the Le Pilage line (pilage means foldable) and they have come in handy over the years!
Or you can get the MUCH cheaper version from Telo Sports.
Even if you make it all the way to Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport and then buy too much duty-free you can stop by the Longchamp store and pick one up to stuff everything into as a carry-on bag! (Of course, I am not speaking from experience at all…)
If you read French or have a URL translation tool, check out this Marie Claire article on the bag's history.
My second addiction is pouches! This may not be a travel essential for you but it is for me! (Probably also why Mr. Misadventures and I were early adopters of packing cubes!) I use different pouches to separate similar items and keep my larger bags organized. I hate hunting for small items.
I have a pouch with “first aid” items like lip balm, medicine, and bandaids. A pouch with hand wipes, and cleaning wipes. One with stationary: a pen, business cards, etc. Gum and mints. I could go on!
- Again, Mochi Things is one of my favorite places to shop for organization items like this and I like their pouches.
- Stasher bags make great pouches too!
Handy tip: It's All About the Layers
My coin purse is inside my tote or messenger bag. My remaining cash, credit cards, and phone are usually in a wallet or small cross-body bag which also goes inside my tote or messenger bag. My pouches contain other essentials (bandaids, medication, hand wipes, or sanitizing gel…) which also go in my tote or messenger. My reusable sacks go into their own pouch thrown into my tote. That way I only need to grab what I need and keep the rest protected in my larger bag.
Note on Backpacks
Although I LOVE backpacks, I personally don't recommend them for Paris. I believe there is more risk of theft than with a crossbody or tote bag. However, if you are going to stay away from super touristy areas (like the Eiffel Tower) or are going to wear your travel backpack in the front when going through those types of areas (plus at the metro station, train stations like Gare du Nord, etc.) then you can get away with a backpack.
Other bags that didn't make the list:
- I didn't mention a fanny pack, as I am not a fan. I feel like they are easier to steal than a cross-body bag. I could be wrong.
- I find money belts to be uncomfortable under my clothes.
- A regular shoulder bag is asking to be stolen, it is easy to knock and grab.
- A small purse or evening bag might come in handy if you are going directly to a restaurant in the evening and back to your hotel or apartment, but I generally don't use one.
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The best anti-theft feature is your situational awareness and having control of your bag, whatever bag that may be, at all times. Make sure that it is of good quality. You don't want straps breaking in the middle of your trip!
The best travel purse or combination of bags for Paris is one that fits your needs and preferences. Each day you should consider what you will be doing while you are in the city to ensure that you are mastering both form and function!
By having a few different options, you can be sure that your days and nights in the City of Light are as seamless as possible. With the right bags, you'll be able to focus on what truly matters: enjoying all the city has to offer.
How about you? Do you have a go-to bag or set of bags when you travel? Do share! I would love to hear about them!
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!).