After reflecting on our packing strategy for a month in France, I thought you might enjoy my sharing some tips. Packing was complicated by being in a transitional season and ending with a few days in Paris.
International travel allows two bags each weighing up to 50 pounds if you are traveling coach. We checked three bags at exactly 50 pounds each, one containing books and materials for my husband’s presentations. We had our computer bag and one smaller bag to carry on. I never allow my colors and materials for workshops to be checked.
I’ll give you a quick recap of what we took. First, I coordinated everything around black trousers and shoes for both of us. Black does not show soil as easily and is much easier to find in the stores that trying to follow your color palette. You can then use tops in your palette to compliment your coloring. We each took walking shoes and dressy casual shoes. In addition, I took a pair of pumps with 2” heel. Good walking shoes are a necessity as Europeans walk much more than we do here and the sidewalks and streets are often cobblestones, gravel or other uneven surfaces. Men’s walking shoes have been quite easy to find for a number of years now while attractive, comfortable women’s shoes have only recently become available. I just received a catalogue showing 8 different styles that would work very well, several of them being available in narrow and wide widths.
I took two pair of slacks, black and gray and a pair of black, cropped pants, while my husband took one pair of black slacks and one pair of Chinos. We each took three pair of jeans, black and dressy blue. I packed one dress and my husband a sports jacket for any special occasion. I prefer good, firm-weave wool slacks as they hold their shape and don’t wrinkle badly. If wool has picked up some wrinkles, you can run a hot shower and let the steam relax the wrinkles.
We packed four dress shirts (be sure they are wrinkle free), two cotton knit shirts, three sweaters – one that could be layered over a shirt – and a light jacket for my husband. I took three sweater sets, three individual sweaters, a suede jacket and a vest. We both included heavier jackets for the last three days in Paris. I also included two Pashmina scarves for added style and/or warmth. I mentioned the wrinkle free shirts as we did take two shirts to “Pressing” which cost us 11 Euro! That’s about $14 with the exchange rate. Otherwise, we were fortunate to have access to a washer and dryer but I have used a public Laundromat in the past. If traveling from hotel to hotel, one can wash out lingerie using shampoo, letting it dry over night. Men’ s underwear is also available in silk and will dry overnight as well.
Along with our toiletries, appropriate socks/hose and tights, vitamins, lingerie (I always pack lingerie for 7 days), we each added one fleece top and bottom and warm socks to wear in the evenings at the cottage. We even remembered two travel umbrellas. This was one of the few times that Europe has not benefitted from our purchase of an umbrella! We were happy that we had added two heavier jackets for Paris – temperatures dropped to 30 degrees the last two nights.
Throughout our stay, we always felt well dressed, looking as if we were locals. We also had enough variety that we never felt like we were wearing the same thing to the same events. And the best part – there was room to bring home treasures from France! Along with some special wines, foie gras, herbs and gifts, we visited my favorite resale shop in Paris, which we had discovered two years ago. This shop carries designer clothes and accessories that have been gently used as well as new with tags still on from a previous season. Their second boutique next door has eveningwear and vintage. Although I was not able to determine the original price this time, my purchases last visit were about 20% of the original price and then I got the 12+% return in vat tax when departing the country. And yes, I did fine some treasures this time – all with new tags!