For many of us, planning a holiday or a weekend break is half the fun. But packing can be a chore.
After three decades of international travel for work and play, I’d love to say I was an expert at packing.
But I have improved – and after two decades in Paris, I also know many of the tips and tricks that can
make a difference to your stay.
So, now that you’ve booked your flights / train / boat / car hire and you’re looking forward your time in Montmartre, I thought I’d
help make your packing a little easier.
You already know the basics, and the things you can’t live without, but take a look at these suggestions – you may find a few
things you’d forgotten, or didn’t realise would be essential for Paris!
You’re on vacation so clothing should be comfortable and versatile!
Pack outfits that can work for day or evening, and include a few accessories that can dress up an outfit instantly.
A scarf is always an elegant accessory and you’ll see them everywhere in Paris during the chilly seasons, sported by both men
A shawl is always an excellent addition to a holiday wardrobe – wear it on the plane for comfort, then drape it over your
shoulders in the evening as you enjoy dinner en terrasse at a Parisian restaurant.
Please note that men in Paris rarely wear shorts, unless they’re going to the park. If it’s very hot in summer, that rule goes out
the window. But if you’re planning to dine at a chic restaurant, make sure you have a pair of long trousers and a shirt with at
least short sleeves (polo shirts are usually okay).
If you’re coming in winter, pack a warm coat. Temperatures can drop to freezing, particularly at night. For spring and autumn, it’s
a good idea to pack a light raincoat.
Pack a pair of good walking shoes – walking is the best way to explore the city.
Montmartre is an old village within the city, and many of its narrow, winding streets are cobbled. So, ladies – favour solid heels
over stilettos for walking around. Although you may want to pack a pair for that outing to a chic restaurant or the opera, when
you know you’ll have a taxi pick you up at the door!
The apartment has wooden floors in the living room and bedroom; tiles in the bathroom; and old tommette tiles in the kitchen. So
if you’re staying for a while, you might like to pack a pair of slippers for relaxing in the evening. Or pack airline or bedroom socks
that you can use while travelling and in the apartment.
Handbags / wallets / backpacks
You’re likely to spend much of the day walking around the sights, so make sure your bag is comfortable, holds all you need, and
closes securely. Paris is a very safe city, but it is the top tourism destination in the world, so it attracts pickpockets. Don’t carry
your wallet in your back pocket, don’t leave your handbag/purse hanging open while you’re in a crowded place or on the metro,
and make sure you have your belongings close by your side in a café or restaurant.
I have a big handbag with lots of inside pockets and a zip that closes everything in that I like to take when I’m travelling on a city
break elsewhere. It’s no longer the most glamorous of my bags but I know my things are secure!
Ladies, pack a lightweight purse for evening, preferably the kind you sling across your body or that has a wrist strap.
There’s one in the apartment so don’t take up room in your case with yours! If you’re addicted to curling wands or straighteners,
you’ll need to bring your own.
It doesn’t rain often in summer in Paris, but climate change is affecting all seasons, so sometimes you’ll need one. From
November to April, it’s likely to be essential, even if it’s just for occasional showers.
I usually have one or two in the apartment so you don’t need to pack one. If they’ve been inadvertently taken home or broken by
previous guests, you can buy a cheap fold-up umbrella easily in the Monoprix supermarket down the hill, at Blanche metro
You’ll find hand soap and bath soap in the apartment.
Pack your own shampoo and hair conditioner – or try out some of the great French products from places like l’Occitane or
Caudalie (made from grapes!!), which you can find in many pharmacies.
Visitors from overseas who have room in their suitcases like to shop at CityPharma on rue du Four, where many products are
cheaper than at home (or, indeed, elsewhere in Paris). I found product ranges like l’Occitane are the same price there, but
others are considerably cheaper. Savvy shoppers come equipped with a shopping list, complete with price comparisons from
home, converted into euros.
It’s always nice to have something to read on holiday, whether it’s while lingering offer a coffee or a glass of wine at a Parisian
café, or curled up on the sofa on a rainy day, or snuggled in bed at night after a long day visiting the sights.
You’ll find a wide selection of reading material waiting for you in the apartment. This is a rotating library, so please feel free to
take the book home with you when you leave if you haven’t finished it. And perhaps you would considering leaving the one you
brought for the flight over behind for future guests.
And do feel free to take a book for the journey home!
Many guests have already joined in the spirit of the rotating library, so that you’ll find thrillers, literary award winners, chic lit, and
foreign language titles all side by side.
Movies and music
You’ll find a selection of movies and a couple of TV series on DVD for those nights when you just want to stay in. There are also
music CDs, which you can play on the DVD player, using the TV’s speakers for sound.
If you have an iPod or iPhone 3 or 4, there’s a small iPod docking station, so that you can play your own music. There is also a
minijack-minijack lead so that you plug in later iPhones or other devices.
Many people buy one before they travel, to help them plan their stay in Paris. Note that there are several in the apartment too.
They’re not all right up to date, but the selection will offer insights into the many things to do and see in the City of Light.
For families with children, there are a couple of guide books specifically tailored for younger visitors to Paris. We also have one
or two board games for them to amuse themselves with if you’re just too tired to go back out after a long day sightseeing! You’ll
find them all on the bookshelves in the bedroom.
The Essential Packing List for Paris