Hi Frugalistas! Paris is probably the chicest city in the world. And Parisian women are probably the chicest women in the world. Regular readers will know that when I travel I like to fit in as best I can. They will also know how much I love my clothes. And how much I love to travel with just one carry on bag. Yes, Paris is very chic, but to me it’s one of the easiest cities to pack for. A Paris packing list with one carry on bag is a comfortable and easy way to travel, regardless of your destination.
Paris packing list basics
Unless you are visiting in high summer or the depths of winter, a light coat is the first item I pack. I prefer a trench coat that I can layer underneath according to the temperature. You don’t need an expensive designer option.
Paris is one part of the world where trousers rather than skirts definitely rule. Parisian women seem to definitely prefer a slim pair of pants over skirts (or jeans for that matter much of the time). Three pairs of classic pants in classic black or navy will take you almost anywhere.
I like to pack at least one skirt, but that is just a personal preference.
I do always pack a classic black jacket though. I use it to dress up my skirt or classic black pants. I always feel chic, and I always feel as though I fit in. As I wander around Paris, I see lots of women dressed the same way.
While the ever so chic Coco Chanel created the original Little Black Dress, unless you are going somewhere genuinely fancy, you don’t have to pack a dress. If you are visiting in summer a light frock may come in handy, but otherwise, leave the dress at home. If you do go for a summer dress, a linen look or pretty floral are the best options.
I’m a scarf person anyway, so I always make sure I pack at least two whenever I go to Paris. Scarves are a great way to change up an outfit, and also help with keeping out the wind on the Grands Boulevards or the Eiffel Tower. Don’t worry if your budget doesn’t allow for a designer option – very European style scarves can be purchased online quite cheaply. A smart costume jewellery necklace will make a statement, dress up your jacket for evening, and will definitely help you fit in and feel ever so chic.
The rest of my Paris packing list is core items from my basic packing list.
I like long sleeved tees for most of the year, and smart short sleeved tees for hot weather. Then some light weight knits for layering, and three sets of underwear. Just make sure that all your tees match all your knits and jacket. I find three or four tees, and three knits plenty.
Shoes are easy. Ballet flats rule in Paris, but any simple flat shoe will suffice. I like something designed for walking with a thick rubber role, rather than a thin soled classic ballet flat. But still flat and chic. I think something with a more robust sole is better for walking on those quaint cobblestones. Most of the year I take my flat boots. In summer a pair of flat espadrilles or sandals make an easy substitute. Remember, choose carefully and you only need two pairs of shoes.
What to leave out of your Paris packing list
There are, of course, some items that are best left at home if you want to feel like you belong in Paris.
First on my “do not pack” list? Gym shoes. Unless they are for running, or are teenagers, French women don’t seem to wear gym shoes. A white leather sneaker is a much better option.
I never think zip off pants are a good idea to pack, regardless of my destination. To me they just shriek “tourist!!”
Shorts are generally not worn by French women unless they are at the beach, so leave the shorts at home. Teenage girls and very young woman can get away with shorts these days but for the rest of us light linen pants or a skirt will definitely give you a more authentic look in warm weather.
And it goes without saying that track suits and fanny packs do not belong in Paris………….
Why is it worth “fitting in” in Paris?
All this talk about looking Parisian and “fitting in” is not just Chief Frugalista snobbery. It has a more serious side. Yes, I like to look nice. Yes, I like to fit in. And yes, I do like to pretend I am just a tiny bit French when I am in Paris.
As a solo female traveller, I feel much safer in Paris when I dress a la Parisienne.
There are plenty of scammers and pick pockets in Paris, like most large European cities. Dressing like a tourist just makes you a target. As it is, I’ve experienced the ring scam in Paris more times than I care to remember. You can read more about travelling safely in Paris here.
A Paris packing list that is appropriate, chic and comfortable is not difficult. A Paris packing list that fits in just one carry on bag is also not difficult. Keep it simple. Keep it basic. Keep it chic. And I promise it will take you anywhere…………