Fall is one of my favorite times to visit Paris. The crowds in front of the Louvre are finally starting to die out. The trees turn into gold in the Tuileries gardens. Most importantly, the temperatures are beginning to cool down enough to appreciate some of the finest foods the city has to offer – you can read more about the subject here. However, the downside is that the weather can get wildly unpredictable. The skies may turn gray, and the air cools, but summer does not die out on September 1st. You can easily have the feeling of getting through all four seasons in a single day. Showers are a common occurrence, especially later in the season. Temperatures average between 55 and 70F in September down to 43F and 52F in November. Not completely freezing, but certainly cool enough to regret not packing an extra sweater (been there, done that). It can make packing for a fall trip to Paris challenging.
There are some things that you should pack when visiting the City of Light no matter the season. But packing for fall requires even more thought if you don’t want to spend your trip regretting all the clothes you left at home and staring at your suitcase in disgust every morning. Let’s just say this packing list is the result of several years of trial and errors. Maybe I can save you some of the discomforts I have experienced by sharing exactly what to bring in your bags during your next autumn excursion to Paris!
Here are some of the things to keep in mind when traveling to Paris in the fall.
Outerwear is everything
Fall temperatures are generally pretty pleasant to explore Paris. Until it starts raining. Sure, there are plenty of places you can explore during a rainy day in Paris, but it would be a shame to miss out on everything else that the city has to offer. The solution? The right type of outerwear. With a good waterproof coat, you will be ready to explore the quaint cobblestones streets, grand avenues, and legendary gardens that make Paris’ reputation.
A classic waterproof trench coat in tan, gray, navy or black is an excellent choice for traveling to Paris in the fall. It is part of every Parisienne’s wardrobe, and it should be in yours too. It is light enough to carry around once the weather warms up, but it will serve you well during a rainy day as well. You can also layer it according to the temperatures, which is very convenient since they might vary widely during your stay.
A relative newcomer that I have seen more and more during recent trips in Paris is the “cirés,” those gum raincoats that are traditionally worn by seamen and often come in a cheerful yellow (mine is navy with white stripes). I’m not sure how many of these wannabe sailors spend their weekends on a boat in Brittany, but they work quite well for the Parisian rain!
Another outerwear you will see everywhere are leather jackets. Wear it with jeans during the day and with a smart dress at night.
Bring the right shoes
The wrong shoes can quickly turn your dream trip into a painful nightmare, especially in Paris, where you will likely spend a lot of time exploring the cobblestone streets of the city or stomping around museum grounds. Much like outerwear, you will want shoes that can handle a day of splashing through puddles and uneven pavement.
I love my Jambu on a day-to-day basis, and they indeed work out great on a dry day. But make sure to pack a pair of waterproof shoes for your fall trip to Paris for an extended time in the rain (Jambu has them too!). I don’t recommend rain boots: they are cumbersome and nowhere as popular in Paris as they are in the United States.
My favorites are a sturdy pair of weatherproof leather ankle boots. They work well with pants and dressier outfits as well. Make sure you sure to break them in before your trip to avoid blisters which are even more unpleasant than wet feet. If you have room in your handbag for an extra pair of socks on rainy days, your feet will thank you.
If you are planning on visiting one of Paris fancier restaurants like the Grand Véfour, don’t forget to bring a dressier pair of shoes as well.
Brisk in the morning, warm in the afternoon and rainy in the evening, the autumn weather in Paris can be finicky. Dressing for the day can be tricky, especially if you want to spend some time exploring the outdoors. The best way to go about it is to bring enough layers so you can mix and match depending on the forecast and what you are planning on doing that day. Just stick to a neutral palette (Parisians are not known for their extravagant tastes in colors anyway), and it should be a breeze.
Bring several long sleeve and short sleeves t-shirts as well as some dressier options like a blouse and a classic white shirt. You can add layers with cardigans and sweaters. If you are visiting Paris later in the fall (end of October and November), it might be worth allocating some of that precious suitcase real estate for a warmer pullover or two. As far as bottoms go, dark wash, well-cut denim should be your staple no matter what time of year you visit Paris, but even more so in the fall.
Dresses are a convenient travel companion. They instantly make you look put together (don’t even think about visiting Paris without a little black dress in your suitcase), and you don’t need to get a headache matching top and bottoms. With the days getting chillier in the morning and the evenings in the fall, I like to bring leggings to layer them up under lighter dresses if needed. Jersey and sweater dresses travel very well, and they are versatile enough that you can wear them for a day of exploring or a fancy night out.
Accessories can save the day
I never travel anywhere without a couple of my beloved scarves in tow. It’s a habit that I picked up while I was living in France and working in Switzerland, and it has served me well throughout the years. You would be hard-pressed to encounter a Parisian in the fall, no matter their age, gender, or social status, that is not sporting one. It’s a great way to add a touch of color to your outfit, and it will warm up an outfit if needed.
Hats are stylish as well as convenient. You probably have seen them on the head of every blogger under the sun. However, there is no denying that they also come in handy on a cold morning or during a rain shower. Not to mention the occasional bad hair day.
Finally, if you are visiting Paris in the fall, make some room in your bags for a travel umbrella!
My packing list for Paris in the fall:
- A trench coat or other waterproof jacket
- Waterproof ankle boots
- Long and short sleeves t-shirts in neutral tones and stripes
- A white shirt
- A dressy top
- A warm sweater if traveling late in the fall
- Dark-colored jeans
- Knit dresses
- Black, thick leggings for layering
- Travel umbrella
How about you? Have you ever been to Paris in the fall before? What is one thing you are glad to have brought? Is there anything you wish you had with you? Do share!
Illustration commissioned from Linden Eller.
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