There’s nothing like springtime in Paris. The flowers are in bloom, the weather is warming up and lingering over lunch, drinks and dinner at the city’s outdoor cafés becomes a true pleasure. So when preparing for your visit to the French capital, there are definitely certain items you should pack in your suitcase for season. Likewise, there are things that you should just leave at home.
An umbrella. Paris is famous for it’s fickle weather. Case in point: While you may find yourself spending the day in the Jardin du Luxembourg along with every other Parisian, soaking up the perfect sunshine at warm temperatures one day, the next day will inevitably bring cooler temps and intermittent rain showers. Avoid a soaking and pack a compact umbrella. (Or you’ll find yourself buying one from Monoprix or one of the grands magasins.
A stylish trench coat. Again, the weather in Paris tends to have a split personality, so be prepared … and be stylish, while you’re at it. You don’t need to run out and buy a Burberry, but the trench coat never goes out of style and looks great with anything in your wardrobe. Well, almost everything.
A stylish-yet-comfortable pair of walking shoes. During your visit to the French capital, you will be undoubtedly be spending most of your time on your feet, traipsing from museum to jardin to café. Whatever you do, don’t even think of putting a pair of brand new shoes on your feet upon your arrival in Paris—because that may be the last day of your trip where you’ll be able to walk without wincing in pain. Even the softest leather walking shoes need time to be broken in, so take a week or two with new shoes at home and break them in.
Black pants. You just can go wrong with a good pair of black pants. They dress up any top, and with the right pair of shoes and accessories, can make an evening ensemble look as chic as any Parisian’s. If you’re young enough, you can even get away with a pair of black designer jeans.
A purse or bag that can be completely sealed. That fabulous Prada tote bag you’re carrying-the one with the single clasp to bring the two sides together? Pickpockets love these. While you’re busy taking a photo of the Eiffel Tower, or window shopping along the rue de Rivoli, they’re reaching in to your open back and grabbing your wallet. And you’ll never even notice until you’re trying to pay for something. So be smart and carry a bag that zips shut.
Your hairdryer. Even with an adapter, your American hairdryer will blow a fuse in your hotel room or vacation apartment. It’s just too powerful for a French outlet, and almost every single hotel and guest apartment in the French capital has a hairdryer for you to use. So free up some valuable space in your suitcase, and leave your hairdryer at home.
Your sneakers. If you’re okay with looking like a tourist, then by all means pack your white Nike’s. But Parisians don’t wear these athletic shoes as a practice—unless they happen to be going for a run or to the gym. There is an exception to this rule, however. If you want to wear your Chuck Taylor’s or Converse sneakers, they’re actually quite popular among the 20- and 30-something crowd in Paris. You’ll find them on sale throughout the city. You may even consider buying a pair of Pataugas—a chic French brand of sneaker—while you’re in Paris.
Birkenstocks. Really… these admittedly comfortable sandals don’t belong on the feet of anyone visiting Paris. Anyone.
Shorts. How to spot a tourist in Paris? They’re usually wearing a pair of khaki shorts (with sneakers or hiking boots). Parisians don’t. In fact, the only shorts you’ll see on Parisians are fashionable short-shorts worn by incredibly thin and leggy mademoiselles, usually accompanied by flowing and fabulous tops, and long men-shorts—the kind made by Armani or other Italian designers and worn by fashion-conscious men.
Guidebooks. Really? In this day and age? Even if you don’t have an iPhone, and iPad or a similar device, with everything you need on the Internet, do you really need to pack a guidebook? Why not print out what you need from the Internet and bring along the pages you need on a daily basis. It’s easier to carry, and you won’t stick out like a tourist.
Photo of trench coat at top of page courtesy of Honestly…WTF.