What to Wear in Paris: Tips for Packing for Paris in the Summer (+ Packing List!)
Paris in the summer has a bad reputation. It is – no surprise here – a very popular time to visit for tourists. Meanwhile, the Parisians themselves fly away to their second homes in Provence, the beaches of the Riviera, or their own exotic adventures abroad. The result is a strange mixture of effervescence in touristic hot spots and sleepy deserted streets in the rest of the city.
There is no denying that Paris has a very different atmosphere in the summer than any other time of year, and yet, the City of Light has plenty to offer. You may need to fight the crowds in the main sites. However, you will also experience leisurely afternoons lounging in the shaded parks in full bloom, picnics along the Seine as the long sunsets illuminate the sky, and strolling through the streets at night when Parisians all seem to be out and about, dead set on having a good time.
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However, to enjoy your summer trip to Paris fully, you will need to pack according to the weather.
What’s the weather like in Paris in the summer?
June, July, and August are the hottest months of the year in the French capital, with temperatures ranging on average between the low 60s and the high 70s. However, in recent years, France has been dealing with heat waves when temperatures reach the 90s for days on end.
It may not seem like much if you are used to the brutal heat of the Southern states, but remember that buildings in Europe are older and not necessarily built to deal with such high temperatures. Forget the air conditioning running on full blast everywhere! Some newer buildings and chain hotels have A/C, but it is still an oddity in most of the city, which relies on opening the windows at night and closing the shutters to keep inside temperatures down during the day.
Besides, although rain is not as frequent from May to September as it is the rest of the year, you should still expect freak thunderstorms that can drench you within minutes and disappear as quickly as they appear. Paris really just has unpredictable weather year-round.
Here are tips for staying cool in Paris should you find yourself there during a heat wave!
4 Tips for Packing for Paris in Summer
So how to pack for summer in Paris? As in any season, you will want to bring clothes that are both comfortable and stylish enough not to stand out in the crowd of well-dressed locals. My five tips for how to pack for Paris still apply. Besides, here is what you will find in my suitcase when I travel to Paris between May and September!
Bring the right shoes!
This has continually been my mantra for my fall, winter, and spring packing lists as well, but it bears repeating! The right pair of shoes will make or break your trip to Paris. You will most likely spend hours on your feet exploring the streets of Paris (or waiting in line to get into the Louvre), so make sure that you are bringing comfortable walking shoes. With that in mind, don’t reach for your favorite flip-flops or trusted running shoes just yet.
Just because it is hot doesn’t mean that Parisians do sloppy: if you can wear it at the beach (or the gym), it will look out of place in the city. You’ll never see Parisian women in short shorts and flip-flops or gym wear.
Instead, find a pair of leather flat sandals that can take you from day to night. You can also bring a pair of lightweight canvas fashion sneakers (think Converse or Keds) that will be comfortable for long days of exploring. Another popular option is espadrilles, which originated in Spain and the South of France but will not look out of place in Paris. They are comfortable and versatile, making them a great traveling shoe.
No matter which type of shoes you end upbringing on your summer trip to Paris, make sure that they are waterproof enough to withstand a rain shower. You can spray them ahead of time if needed. They should also be broken in ahead of time: you don't want to spend your entire vacation nursing a blister or two!
Don't skip on accessories
Accessories are an easy way to spruce up your outfit – a great asset when you are dealing with a limited wardrobe while traveling. I have talked at length about my lifelong passion for scarves. Just because the temperatures warm up doesn't mean that you should leave them at home!
They are probably the most useful accessory you could bring on a trip to Paris. Is it a bit chilly one morning? Do you need to cover up your shoulders to visit one of the beautiful churches on a hot afternoon? Your scarf can save the day. Find a lightweight one, in silk, cotton, or linen, and you are all set.
Besides scarves, a hat and sunglasses, and sunscreen should also be on your summer packing list for Paris. Shade can be limited, especially if you are waiting in line to enter one of the major monuments. Avoid a painful sunburn or insolation, which would put a damper on the rest of your day.
Again, anything too sporty will scream tourist. Leave your favorite baseball hat at home, and instead, bring a more elegant straw hat with wide brims, like a Panama. Some of them are packable, so you can shove them in your suitcase for traveling if you don't feel like wearing them on the plane.
If you wear a purse, a fashionable crossbody bag is a great idea. Here are the best bags for walking around Paris.
Finally, it is a good idea to bring a refillable water bottle. You will find heftily priced up water bottles in most touristy places. However, Paris is also home to over 700 public water fountains (including some distributing sparkling water!) where you can refill your own.
Dress it up
Just because it's hot doesn't mean that French women are letting go of their legendary sense of style. The same rules they follow the rest of the year still apply during the summer months. Anything too short, sporty, or beachy will look out of place and will be frowned upon in the French capital.
Leave technical fabrics and sportswear in loud colors at home. Instead, find outfits that are tailored, in natural fabrics like cotton or linen, and neutral tones such as beige, white, navy, or black.
Summer dresses are the outfit of choice for Parisiennes. If you want a touch of fantasy in your life with flower prints and colors, that's the way to go. Remember that Parisians tend to dress conservatively, even in the summer.
Avoid anything too short – knee-length is best, although midi and maxi dresses are also trendy these days – or low cut. I love cotton t-shirt dresses that are comfortable and travel well.
You will also see a lot of skirts that follow the same rules. (And if you plan on going out at night, you can never go wrong with a little black dress!)
Shorts are acceptable, but the ones you will find in Paris are a far cry from the cut-off jeans you may find in the United States. Instead, they are closer to the shorter version of tailored pants. You can also go with well-cut linen pants in neutral colors, which can be very chic. Pair them with a cotton blouse, a button-down shirt, or a linen t-shirt.
Be ready for all eventualities
The summer weather in Paris is as temperamental as it is for the rest of the year. Keep a close eye on the forecast before your trip, and make sure you bring clothes that will keep you comfortable no matter what comes your way. Thunderstorms are frequent and violent, especially at the end of a scorching day. Don't get caught off guard!
Bring a packable, lightweight rain jacket and a travel umbrella you can keep in your handbag just in case. Mornings and evenings can also be chilly. Besides the scarf I mentioned above, you won't regret traveling with a cardigan and a light jacket to use as a cover-up if needed. A well-cut denim jacket is easy to pack and versatile. Even if the weather is supposed to be hot during your stay, I would still recommend bringing along your favorite pair of jeans, just in case!
What NOT To Wear in Paris in Summer
I mentioned this above but it bears repeating – Paris summer fashion is not much different than Parisian fashion throughout the year. Even though it’s hot out, you’ll still find French people fashionably dressed and accessorized.
For those of us in the US, that may be a bit different than our normal summer style. And while you don’t necessarily need to completely change your personal style, it’s worth trying not to stand out too much.
In Paris, that means no flip-flops (they won’t be comfortable on the cobblestone streets after a lot of walking anyway), no athletic wear or workout clothes, and no clunky tennis shoes. Short shorts are a no-go as well, though other pairs of shorts will be fine.
Paris Packing List for Summer
- Comfortable shoes: espadrilles, leather sandals, and/or canvas sneakers
- Lightweight scarf
- Summer accessories: straw hat, sunglasses
- Summer cotton dresses (above the knee, midi or maxi)
- Tailored shorts
- Button-down shirts
- Cotton blouses
- Linen t-shirts
- Lightweight cardigans
- Denim jacket
- Packable rain jacket
- Travel umbrella
Packing for Paris by Season
Fall/Autumn in Paris
Winter in Paris
Spring in Paris
What are your must-haves when traveling to Paris in the summer?
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Illustration commissioned from Linden Eller.
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Loving the illustrations as always 🥰
I’m really hoping to go to Paris this summer so this will be super helpful! 🙂
It’s hard to know what to wear in these landlocked cities during the summer, the weather is always unpredictable and swelteringly hot! These tips are really useful.
It’s a dream of mine to go to Paris one day!! It looks so beautiful.
Too cute! I actually will be in Paris in March so I’ll keep this in mind. Granted, the weather will be different, but still.
Wonderful tips… and wish I was packing to go. I have never been to Paris, but it definitely has a destination spot on my bucket list. Will keep this post for future reference.
Thanks for sharing this information. I can’t wait to visit Paris.
This is so helpful. I can’t wait to finally visit Paris someday. Will refer back to this list 🙂
That is one of my dreams going back to Paris and Nice. And you are right comfortable shoes are a must. Cannot wait to travel again.
This will definitely help when packing. We are thinking to visit Paris next year.
Great post, if I ever visited Paris, I would not know what to wear!
Can’t wait to take my daughter to Paris. This is a great list of things to bring.
Great advice Andi (and I blooming love your illustrations!)
I always loved the summer dresses in France. Even if you don’t have a good one before you go, I always found the shops in Paris had so many that it is a good excuse to end up with a travel souvenir summer dress. It’s so true about scarves as well! They are sooo useful in the summertime.
Paris would be such a wonderful place to visit. These are some awesome tips to staying comfortable when visiting.
Great tips! Thanks for sharing your comprehensive ideas, how I wish I could go to Paris too
I stuck out like a sore thumb (or at least I felt like I did!) when I visited both Italy and France. I like a bit of colour (ok maybe a lil’ more than a “bit”) and most of the colours I found in Italy & France were black, grey and white. A few lessons learned in style for sure!
My daughter and I were supposed to be flying to Paris next month, but I cancelled our flights because I have no idea when our border will open again. I’m pinning your post so I have your packing tips handy when we rebook.
Paris has always been in my bucket list to travel and explore. I wish I can still push through amid this pandemic.
Paris is one of my all time favourite cities to visit. I’m with you on the role of scarves! Such a fashionable way of keeping warm.
Thanks for the tips! I’ve never been to Paris, but it’s definitely on my list of dream destinations.
This is such a great list. I could not agree more that you absolutely need the right shoes! LOL!
Great suggestions, as always. When I started commuting to Paris for work last July, I found it so hard to decide on outfits that were suitable for the temperate, yet Office suitable. Since that is a whole different ball game in Paris compared to London. But I agree, a scarf is always a perfect addition to any outfit in any season. Bought some lovely printed silk scarfs at Galerie Lafayette. Tres chic
Love this if even packing in my dreams. I so agree with you about the shoes. Trouble is for me that my feet are so sensitive wearing the same shoes for days after day of walking causes problems, even when they’re comfy. So, I end up packing about 4 pairs. Yes, in European cities you need to dress well, much more so than in the US. Would love to follow your advice sooner than later!
Once again I adore the illustrations you have on this post!! Maybe the reason I never fell in love with Paris is because I never visited in summer? It’s definitely on the bucket list. Although I’m afraid to say I’d definitely be committing a fashion faux pas – I don’t have any leather sandals and I always wear gym-type shoes when I travel!
Love the illustrations, these tips will definitely help once I finally plan my Paris trip
Bring the right shoes is sooo true!! Between the heat and the walking, you really don’t want to suffer on your feet! And the dress up, for sure!! Paris asks for it and I love it!!! 🙂 Tips on point! thanks for sharing