Paris Packing Suggestions for Winter

I see lots of packing lists for Europe for warmer seasons. My husband & I are going to Paris in December - does anyone have a packing list they suggest? We do need one nice outfit each for a nice restaurant but other than that - just clothes that are appropriate for museums, shopping, and corner cafes. Thank you!!

Posted by Karen
Atlanta
800 posts

Not a list - but now that our children are grown we have had the chance to take a few winter trips to Europe (Madrid & Strasbourg) and also we were in Paris last year in September when it was cold and rainy. So from what I saw and what we actually packed: Jeans - dark ones, slimmest cut you own Black pants Shoe #1 -Boots if you are comfortable wearing them, otherwise any low heeled black leather shoe. Shoe #2 - Dark casual shoes - I brought a pair of black lightweight sports shoes Scarves - Even my husband wore one and he looked great! Coat - Husband and I each brought a warm heavy black coat (wore it on the plane). I also packed a lighter weight coat/raincoat Umbrella
Black/dark tops - I like turtlenecks. My husband just brought heavier weight long sleeved shirts I actually brought fewer pieces of clothing than I normally do in the summer (because the clothes are so much lighter then I can bring more). We both pack carryon size only. It was easy to wear all black (basically) with a jazzy scarf and look pretty good!

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1965 posts

You'll appreciate wool socks as the cold from the pavement can go right through your shoes. You'll be walking outside more than in the States. I buy thin black wool socks to wear with black shoes or boots, any cheap brand On the racks at T.J.Maxx.

Posted by kim
raleigh, nc
14 posts

Fall has turned out to be tricky for sure! Paris is our first stop then on to Munich and then a week in Switerland. I was hoping I could stick to "cool" clothes! Thanks!

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1409 posts

I have visited Paris in winter several times and will again this year. I totally agree with Karen's advice above. Perfect.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

Except for turtlenecks (I am top heavy and have a short neck, so ALWAYS a V-neck for me!), Karen is spot on. Most excellent point about the slim cut jeans, too. No "mom jeans" in Paris! I add some bold, fashionable jewelry, and my overcoat is usually scarlet or bright tangerine, because it can be gray and a splash of color is nice - but a scarf can add that as well! And my husband wears a black overcoat. Black is perfect both for travel and for winter in Paris. BTW - you will love it SO MUCH in Paris in December. It's my favorite time to visit, actually. Have a great time!

Posted by kim
raleigh, nc
14 posts

Would this packing list work well for late September as well?

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

Well, late September can still get hot, so I would say "no." December in Paris is definitely winter. In late September in Paris I have been sweltering in a sleeveless sun dress! Yes, it can be cool and rainy, so even though I would definitely pack lighter (no heavy overcoat, definitely!) I would bring a sturdy umbrella (which may stay in your purse, but will appreciated if it rains!), and maybe something long-sleeved and/or fleece or lightweight wool, in case it does get chilly. It's actually harder to pack for autumn, isn't it? Because you can't count on either sunny-and-still-summery, or "chilly-and-tending-to-fallish!"

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1139 posts

A couple of thoughts about winter in Paris. I'd add silk long underwear, which can help with cold snaps and/or cold hotels. And when I travel with jeans, I'd bring stretch type that are synthetic blends... it gives you a chance of drying out if they get wet. The typical all cotton are much heavier to carry and take forever to dry.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
910 posts

If luggage weight is a factor, and it should be, do not pack jeans, as they are heavy. Wear one pair for the plane flight, which means don't choose skin-tight or you will be uncomfortable in the already cramped seats. Settle on one or two colours for everything, to combine in layers (good advice in any season.) Wear a heavy pair of shoes and pack a light pair, forgetting about fashion to favour footwear that will be happy in wet weather. The first thing to do on arrival is shop for a lovely scarf, essential Parisian accesory for men and women alike and a swell souvenir. Wearing it with panache requires an advanced degree but here are some hints on getting started http://www.tasaram.com/tying.html

Posted by melissa
Austin
799 posts

I agree with most of the advice. For December, instead of packing a heavy coat and a lighterweight raincoat, take a down coat ( not a jacket, a regular length coat- mine is Eddie Bauer ) which is waterprooofed. Also, a vest can be a good layer for very cold days but doesn't take up much room. Choose a fashionable one instead of a polartec one. I'd take a tiny umbrella that fits in your coatpocket or purse in case of snow, and don't forget waterproof gloves. When we went to Europe 2 years ago in December, I waterproofed my shoes and Bottega-style purse with silicone spray. I also found a pair of comfortable ankle boots a good investment as well.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4868 posts

I agree with Melissa about the down coat. For my winter visit to Paris I followed all the layering advice. I had to remove so many layers every time I went into a museum or restaurant I felt like I was undressing. And then what do you do with all your stuff? I decided that if I ever do another winter trip I would take a hooded down coat that was either mid-thigh or above the knee length. That way I could just take the one item off indoors. The weather can vary that time of year, but for the entire 2 weeks I was in Paris the warmest day was 33 degrees..

Posted by Kimberly
Joplin, Missouri, United States
14 posts

I wear jeans here in the US all the time. I have read older articles that suggest that Parisians don't wear jeans and it is a sure way to let people know that you are a tourist. Is that still true?

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4868 posts

Not true. People all over Europe wear jeans. They are usually not baggy, but fit closer to the body. I saw a pair of Levi 501 jeans in the window of a store in Paris a few years ago. The price was 99€. I always take a pair or two of jeans.

Posted by Kimberly
Joplin, Missouri, United States
14 posts

Glad to hear that jeans will be okay to wear. I would love to buy a "souvenir" scarf - how much should I expect to spend to get a decent one?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8735 posts

"souvenir" scarf I don't know the definition of "decent". Depending on how you define souvenir, and what quality you want, and what material, and where you go - anywhere from about €2.50 to €500.00.

Posted by Kimberly
Joplin, Missouri, United States
14 posts

I imagine there is a wide variety of scarf quality...

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

I second the suggestion for the lightweight long underwear - especially if you want to spend some significant amount of time outside (ie hanging out on the top of the Eiffel Tower. - And I'd bring a hat for that visit, too.) As for what to do with the extra layers as you peel them off: My suggestion is to buy one of those folds-into-its-own-pouch grocery bags. You can easily throw it into your purse. When you take off the hat, gloves, scarf, fleece, etc., just take out the bag and throw them in. Easier to carry one bag around the museum than all your other stuff. I do this all the time in winter. (And have done it in summer for my kids' hats and sunglasses)

Posted by Kimberly
Joplin, Missouri, United States
14 posts

Thank you again to everyone who made suggestions!

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
638 posts

In MN we are expert at what to wear in winter! In Europe, I take my London Fog type coat with wool liner, a fleece vest, some lovely silk underwear, a great little hat to keep my head warm, scarves, scarves, scarves and extra socks & sock liners plus leather gloves as well as warmer ones. Layering is the key. The fleece vest and silk underwear is also handy in the room which can be a bit chilly sometimes as energy is so expensive in Europe.