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Eight Paris Essentials and Why You Need Them

Girls’ Guide to Paris, a fantastic online resource for fabulous things to do in Paris, helps to answer here every antsy traveler’s questions about packing for Paris. This article was also written by HiP Paris blogger friend Robin Locker, of My Mélange

Paris Rain Cafe Book UmbrellaMilena Mihaylova

Packing for any trip can be frustrating and daunting. But when you’re heading to the fashion capital of the world, the task can seem even more arduous. You know that Parisians are stylish and chic, so you want to do your best to fit in. But you also want to be comfortable, without toting around unnecessary stuff.

Most women I know spend hours mixing and matching outfits, piling every available piece of clothing on the bed until it disappears under a mound of fabric. And though there will always be two types of packers—those who believe in taking only a carry-on, and those who just can’t fathom the thought—there are some essentials any girl headed to Paris should bring along.

trench_umbrell dave bloomDave Bloom

Black. Lots of black. Black is classic and always in season, and it matches easily with almost every other color, which makes it perfect for layering. Dark clothes are flattering on all figures and hide wear and tear better than their counterparts, so they will be more forgiving if you splash some espresso on yourself. And every girl needs a little black dress for a nice evening out in the City of Light.

An umbrella. No matter the season, in Paris the threat of rain should not be taken lightly. There are few things more uncomfortable than sloshing around the streets without the proper cover, soaked to the skin and freezing. Don’t let that be you! Pack an umbrella and be prepared to carry it with you. Though you may enjoy the added protection of an oversize golf umbrella, a smaller, more portable option will be easier to pack and to tote around. And when it comes to the design, stick to solid colors or, if you really want to go crazy, perhaps some polka dots.

A scarf. It may come as a surprise, but both Parisian women and men wear scarves. Scarves for fashion, scarves for winter, scarves to protect you from catching cold in 50-degree weather, even colorful, gorgeous silk squares that women of a certain age tie in tight little knots around their necks. Pack a few different kinds and wear one daily. And while you’re at it, why not pick up a few as souvenirs to add to your collection?

cupjomontage2A Cup Of Jo

A trench coat. The classic trench is a staple of every Frenchwoman’s wardrobe, and it should be for any visitor to Paris as well. This versatile jacket, which has been around since World War II, is the perfect accessory to complete any stylish outfit and protect you from rain or wind in the warmer months. It also adds another layer of warmth on those chilly, stormy gray days of winter. Knee-length or short, tied or buckled, solid or print, lined or unlined, designer or otherwise, trenches can accommodate every season, style and body type. Something waterproof or water resistant is also a good idea. Try to wear yours on the airplane; this will save space in your luggage and keep you from looking like a wrinkled mess.

Comfortable shoes. Ladies, I know that you have seen photos of chic parisiennes tooling around the city in stilettos. But I implore you to be practical and not make them your everyday shoe of choice. I’m not suggesting that you leave the Manolos at home, but please understand that you will be walking long and far on uneven cobblestones, which are murder on your feet. For that reason I suggest you pack comfortable, fashionable shoes. Manufacturers like Dansko, Camper and Ecco offer some great options with arch support. And unless you want to scream American tourist, please leave the white sneakers at home!

A digital camera. Pocket-size digital cameras have come a long way over the years. You can score an affordable camera that produces high-quality images and shoots video for less than $150. Look for one that has the most megapixels you can afford (in case you want to make a large, framable print later), and that’s thin and compact so you can stow it away in your purse or pocket. The minute you set foot in Paris and see the Seine, the grand French architecture, the cobblestone-lined alleys and the stunning displays in the department-store windows, you’ll be happy you brought it. And make sure you practice for those night shots—you don’t want to miss the Eiffel Tower as it sparkles after dark.

LBPcafeconverse copyLittle Brown Pen

A journal. Taking photographs isn’t the only way to capture your adventures in Paris. Writing is a perfect way to create memories of your travels, and where better to write than in a city where so many literary greats have done it before you? You’ll want to document all of your Paris activities—where you walked, how your first croissant tasted, how your French conversation skills are improving. With your journal in hand, grab a table on the terrace of your favorite historic café, sip a café crème and write to your heart’s content. Or choose a bench at one of the city’s many beautiful parks.

A positive outlook. You spend months saving and planning for your trip of a lifetime. You check the weather forecast once a day for two weeks before your departure and hope for the best. You cross your fingers that there won’t be any transportation strikes during your visit. But I have news for you: anything can, and most likely will, happen. It may rain every day, the train operators may strike and the hotel staff may lose your reservation. Don’t let these little things ruin your vacation. What will help is a positive attitude. If it rains, go to a museum or spend more time lingering in your favorite café. Trains not running? Walk, and you’ll likely discover a new hidden gem. Take a deep breath, don a smile and don’t forget that you are in Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

Related Links:

  • Fabulous Paris street fashion at the Easy Fashion blog
  • Amy Thomas on the hype behind Paris Fashion Week…
  • What to read/do/see before you get to Paris

Written by Robin Locker for Girls’ Guide to Paris. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Robin Locker - Girls Guide to Paris

Robin Locker - Girls Guide to ParisRobin Locker is writer, photographer, food blogger and travel consultant. She writes for her blog, My Melange, and freelances for Girl's Guide to Paris.

Website: Robin Locker - Girls Guide to Paris

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Posted in Parisian Living | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “Eight Paris Essentials and Why You Need Them”

  • Julie says:

    Thanks for the information! I too agree that it is all in attitude. People often mistake the French/Parisian way of life as rudeness but it isn’t that, they’re just different than us! Understand that and you won’t have a negative attitude about it before, after or during your trip! Enjoy all there is to offer and if something isn’t as you expected, chalk it up to the experience of Paris!

  • Angelica says:

    great post thanks,
    I’m going to paris at the end of september

  • Simone says:

    A trip to Paris is in my near future thank you for the tips! I love ur blog i always get a laugh in!

  • maria says:

    thank you so much…i’m an indian going to paris in august..and though i am from the indian fashion industry..the thought of visiting the fashion capital can be a little intimidating…you’re blog totally helped:)

  • monique says:

    great post and super agree! Just got a pair of campers for an upcoming european trip. love the black pair of converse. do they wear them there?

  • Michi says:

    Terrific tips! I just went, and yes, black clothing for layering and umbrellas are fantastic! (I had a hot, sunny first day, a rainy second day, and a cold, cloudy third). And of course flat shoes – I had learned my lesson in Spain – so I could last all day and indulge in the magic of the city by night, without having aching toes. :)

  • All so true!!! Am splurging on a fabulous umbrella in Paris.

  • Jenzie says:

    Great article, very useful for those traveling to paris for the first time!

  • Fabulous tips as always!! (Love the pics too!)

  • […] Eight Paris Essentials and Why You Need Them (by Hip Paris) […]

  • Fran, I agree! I even double-up sometimes and wear two…

  • Winter scarves are essential during the cold season! Lots of black scarves.

  • Jeri says:

    As what can only be discreetly described as someone who is no longer young, and as someone who has had the indescribably good fortune to visit Paris many times, I can’t tell you how much better I feel as a tourist when I look at least a little less obviously like one. I tend to wear comfortable, scrunchable skirts, since I’m no longer (never was) a size 4, with a knit top and a scarf, lots of black, and I don’t feel so conspicuous. I find I also get treated better in shops and restaurants. A little effort goes a long way.

  • photohogger says:

    Wonderful post and helpful – hahaha love the last one :)

  • Nicole says:

    I absolutely love this blog! You give the best advice.

  • Good advice for tourists. I especially like the last one!

  • Thank you, Candice, Sandra and Cynthia!

    Cynthia: Enjoy your late Summer trip, such a lovely time to visit.

    Sandra: Paris will be gorgeous in 5 years – though it’s fairly gorgeous year-round…

    Candice: I love buying umbrellas in Paris. There’s a great handmade store in the 6eme that sells the fanciest ones ever, so pretty!

    Have a great day, ladies!

    –Maggie

  • Candice says:

    Such good advice !
    You think everyone thinks of all of this but there are so many people out there asking questions… here are the answers.
    The only thing I never brought with me was an umbrella. We stayed in a hotel that always provided one if needed but I also loved buying one on my trip, for that rainy day back at home where I could be reminded of the rainy day in Paris.

  • Sandra says:

    I hope to visit Paris is 5 years. I’ll be 50 and celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary! Thanks for the article! It was great! Sandra

  • Cynthia says:

    Wow, I have all of this stuff on the ready for my upcoming trip in Sept. I love your blog and your tips. Thanks so much!

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