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The Best Bags for Walking Around Paris

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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Here are my go-to’s while I am in Paris.

Coin Purse

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!).

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.

It’s harder than you think to find a double-sided one, here are a few of my favorites:

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.

blue travel wallet with map and white tennis shoe

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. And when I am done in the store or coffee shop, I put it on inside 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.

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:

Reusable Sacks

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. 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 that I can carry several at a time. Here are some of my favorites.

Cross-body 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.

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.

Tote Bag

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, 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.

BONUS: A few extra bags I like to have!

Longchamp bag

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!

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.

Pouches

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 like 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!

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.

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!

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girl jumping with tote bagtote bag with book and flower insidefemale hand putting coin in coin purse

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13 Comments

  1. I personally love cross-body bags as they feel more secure. I love the idea of a coin purse though.

  2. Cross body bags are my favorite when I’m traveling. I love being hands free and I feel it’s the safest option.

  3. Thank you for all of your best bags for walking around Paris tips. It was also very helpful to mention the backpacks because many people travel with backpacks. It makes sense that they are more apt to be stolen because people will generally throw them over only one shoulder. Great post as always Andi.

  4. I’m always a fan of tote bags. I love that I can fit everything I need in a tote bag. although I love the other bags too.

  5. Nice range of bags there. I really like the option of reusable sacks, so convenient and easy to handle.

  6. It’s always important to have the right bag for the location and requirements. I tend to go for something small that holds essentials.

  7. I adored the coin purses you mentioned. I collect those reuseable shopping bags as souvenirs. I have to check more of these bags out!

  8. I always carry three bags while traveling. I need to buy a coin purse now. Thanks for sharing these ideas 🙂