Taking a trip to France is something that many people dream of. Maybe it’s meeting your sweetheart for a week in Paris, or students discovering Europe together. Countless artists have visited, hoping to gain a spark of the inspiration that has led thousands of historic artistic movements. France is the home of fine cooking, legendary brands, historic hotels, and breathtaking landscapes so whatever you’re looking for is likely to be found somewhere between the bustling cities and the pastoral countryside. The key to enjoying your French adventure is to pack correctly for your style of trip, blend in well with the locals, and dress correctly for the weather.
Luggage, Day Bags, and Purses
The first thing to understand is the critical difference between bag types, mobility, and security. The way you pack to get through airports is the luggage style. Here you want zero to two large bags that are checked and one efficient overnight bag with everything you might need if, for some reason, you get trapped overnight in an airport during a freak storm.
Then there’s the day bag configuration. This can be a collapsible bag that folds up tightly into luggage and folds out into a lightweight backpack, satchel, or stylish tote. In this bag, you can put everything you need for a single day’s adventure without the bulk and weight of your travel backpack or carry-on bag. This bag should be able to hold a water bottle, your favorite mobile devices, wallet, sunscreen, a spare sweater, and anything else you think might be useful that day.
Finally, there’s the evening purse for ladies and the travel wallet for gentlemen. This allows you to occasionally suit up in your five-star best with the least possible baggage. An evening purse or wallet should hold nothing but your phone, money, passport, and perhaps one or two personal care items like Advil, chapstick, and sanitary supplies.
Be Your Natural Stylish Self
If you’re worried about what to wear in France, don’t. While it is a notoriously stylish place, people also flow in from all over the world and they’re not all models, designers, and starving artists. There are tourists, professionals, students–you name it. Whatever you normally wear, as long as it’s not shorts, should be perfectly acceptable. France is not one of the ‘modest’ countries with strict rules about shoulders and legs but it is generally a little more gender-traditional than the media may have led you to believe. Ladies, pack a few casual dresses and gentlemen, consider button-up shirts as well as t-shirts.
Business casual with a twist is the best way to plan for a universally acceptable style. A few fun accessories or accents to an otherwise comfy-formal will make you casual enough for the party crowds and formal enough for most upscale venues you might wander into.
Pack with Layers with the Season in Mind
The weather in France tends to be mild but still notably seasonal. You certainly don’t’ want to be caught out in the winter with nothing but summer gear or vice versa. The best way to pack for France is with layers, ensuring that you’re prepared for both warm and cold days within the range of the season. Always have an extra few sweaters and a warm lightweight jacket ready with pants or leggings of the correct thickness for the season.
It should also be noted that some of the more legendary and desirable locations have a higher than usual and very much enforced dress code However else you pack, make sure you bring at least once very fancy dress or suit.
Wear Shoes Made for Walking
There are a lot of forms of transportation in France from carriages to high-speed trains but the primary way to get around, especially in cities, is on foot. Most of the best places to see and neighborhoods to shop in don’t have room to drive or park but they do have excellent sidewalks and an assumption that pedestrians are the priority travelers. This means that no matter how stylish your pumps or new dress shoes might be, leave them at home or pack them only for finite occasions. Otherwise, expect to walk and prepare to wear shoes that will actually be comfortable for a long day and night of on-foot exploration.
Get Euros Ahead of Time
France is a very personable place with a lot of tipping and just-in-time services. Even if you have your itinerary planned from arrival to departure, there will be opportunities–sometimes moments after getting off the plane–to hire a service, tip someone, or buy a snack and you’ll want to have a few Euros already handy. Plus, ATM access is generally more expensive across the water. If you want to buy things from street vendors and tip service people with cash, get plenty ahead of time and stash it in separate bundles in various places on your person and in your luggage. Carry a dummy wallet as well, your old worn out one with a few demo credit cards and small-bill Euros that can be tossed if you get into a bad situation.
Devices, Chargers, and a Universal Power Strip
Finally, almost no one travels without their mobile devices anymore. You’ll at the very least have a phone and maybe a laptop and tablet as well. You might also have an eReader, MP3 player, or an audio translator to help you with the less multi-lingual locals. Remember that every one of your devices will need a charger and that plugs are different in Europe. To ensure that you don’t wind up with dead devices. make sure to have a surge protecting universal power strip that can convert voltage and fit the local outlets.
Going to France could be the most exciting, romantic, or inspiring thing you do this decade and the best way to enjoy every moment is to be prepared for whatever adventures lay ahead of you. For more great tips and travel insights, contact us today!