Packing For France

Our trip to France is rapidly approaching, so I must get to packing. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I would be putting into my suitcase. I had basic items I knew I wanted to include, but until I set out all of the possibilities, I never am quite sure. Are you like me?

All the possibilities- so many choices.

 When I travel, I stick to a couple of colors that can easily be coordinated. My closet is made up of black, white, gray, navy and denim, so when it comes to choosing my travel pieces, it’s pretty easy. Taking the destination, the activities and the weather into consideration, I then choose a color scheme and stick to it.  Since we’ll be in Paris, I’m choosing mostly blacks and grays, with some cream for contrast. I don’t wear many prints, so I’m adding a four scarves, one animal print, a polka dot, and two larger ones in black and white/gray. As a matter of fact, you can see one of them in my profile picture – it’s a favorite staple. Scarves add interest and can add a surprising amount of warmth.

I start the whole process by pulling out much much more that I ever intend to take, then I organize the possibilities into versatile outfits. I want to be able to mix and match tops and bottoms as well as layer the tops to whatever the weather dictates. Editing is the hard part – at least for me. I tried to keep it to 12-16 pieces as Susan of Un Femme d’un Certain Age recommends, but try as I might I just can’t pair down that far. However, I’ve come a long way from the first time I visited England. That time I took a huge suitcase packed with practically my whole closet and wore two outfits (I’d packed mostly lightweight items and it was cold and rainy the entire time). Live and learn – right?

Here’s what made the final cut. If I had more room, I would have included that animal print top as well as a new chevron patterned dress – both are made out of very  packable fabrics that don’t wrinkle, but after checking the weather I knew that they would only be worn once at best – so back into the closet they went.

These days we travel with small suitcases, usually carry-on or one size larger. They’re perfect for negotiating European hotel stairs and trains. I’ve come a long way from that first trip. These are the bags I’ll be taking along – The purple will be checked and the red will work perfectly as an under-the-seat carry-on. 

Here’s a trick I learned thanks to a clever friend…

I’ve never been a fan of the u-shaped neck rolls, so I stuff my lightweight puffer coat into a flannel pillowcase I made. It’s perfect for snoozing, and…it’s just the right size to fit into the red carry-on along with my toasty Pashmina scarf.

I try to wear the most bulky clothes on the plane to save room in my luggage. This is what I’ll be wearing.

I know many are opting for leggings, but these jeans from The Loft stretch and are so comfy. It’s a win win in my book.

I’m also tucking the darker lightweight sweater from Athleta into my carry-on. I like to have an extra charge of clothes just in case the unthinkable happens and our luggage doesn’t catch up with us right away.

The cross-body Baggallini rolls up to fit into that backpack. I envision the cross body bag getting the most use in Paris, with the small scale backpack working perfectly for day trips and hikes.

Now to the rest of my choices. We’ll be in Paris for 7 days on a guided tour. Since we’ll be seeing the same group of people I wanted to have enough variety especially for dinners.

The leggings from Athleta and the Sevens knit pants will work with the variety of tops. The lightweight button-down shirt can be worn on its own or under either sweater.

.I think this is one of my favorites.

After Paris we’ll be renting a car and striking out on our own for another two weeks. We are loosely following Rick Steves’ recommendations for a driving tour of the rest of the country. Ambitious I know, but that’s our plan. Casual and comfortable will be our mantra for the remainder of the trip.

Black jeans and gray herringbone leggings add to my choices and can be styled down for day wear.

 Here are the rest of my selections for casual tops.

 Most of these are long sleeved. The shirt at the very top is tried and true and so versatile, I’ve worn on many an adventure for years. It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, even on warmer days, and it’s easy to add a layer underneath if necessary. The next two are for workout/day hikes. I couldn’t go to France without a striped tee, could I?  Next is a plain black tee with button trim. The third on the bottom row is mock turtleneck and sleeveless – perfect as a stand alone or under other tops. Lastly is the gray tee, it’s short sleeved (the forecast is for high 70s low 80s while we are in the French Riviera).

I’m still editing. Thoughts?

Until next time…




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I’m passionate about design in all forms – interiors, architecture, food, fashion, and…life. Join me in my adventures.

2 thoughts on “Packing For France

  1. Wow, your suitcase looks so small for three weeks! Congratulations for fitting into that…. I now always take, and check, a 26″ hardside bag and then a nice roomy carry on, as you have. I too love the Loft jeans: they are my favorite, followed by Gap. Tried and true! And anything from Athleta will do nicely. Glad to see the shoes are in there: very stylish and Parisian. I would just say that you can certainly buy anything over there that you might need! In fact, I always leave gaps in my wardrobe to “force” me to buy French!! And, you can easily send a box home through La Poste: you pay a flat rate for the size box (Colissimo) you want. I’ve never had a problem and it arrives within two weeks usually. Just a thought.

    • Good suggestions Libby, If you have any reasonable shopping spots, I’d love to know. I can’t wait to see the Paris street fashion in person. I’m going to try to snap lots of examples for my daughter’s fashion class! I wonder if that second hand shop is still there on Montmartre. I remember reading about it in The Only Street in Paris.”
      As for the suitcase, I took it to England for three weeks and it worked pretty well, however we were on a rugby tour & based in the Cotswolds – pubs and sports fields were all I had to pack for. Although it was colder than I’m anticipating for this trip. I’ll definitely do an assessment post when we get back.