Thursday, February 25, 2016

Packing For a Two Week Trip to Paris

My carry-on sized suitcase with 4 wheels
It's hard to not over pack, no matter how long your trip will be or where you're going. Even with my experience, I still manage to over pack. I get better each time, though.

I use a carry-on sized suitcase which I usually check at the airport. I also carry a small backpack. Remember, you'll be schlepping these things through the airport and perhaps up and down public transportation stairs. Know your limitations.

I rent an apartment so I have access to a washer and dryer. That makes a huge difference since I can "refresh" things easily and pack less.

But when you're a tourist, it's also good to remember, that no one will remember what you wore yesterday.

Americans generally wash their clothes even when they're not really dirty. So, wearing the same pair of jeans more than a few times is fine - unless you spill a glass of red wine on them in which case, club soda in the sink if you're in a hotel!

Mix and match - that's the key. Fortunately, growing up, my mom taught me that trick for school. We didn't have a closet and drawers full of clothes when I was younger.

While black, gray, and navy blue would be boring every day in your normal life, they tend to be the most versatile while traveling - especially in Paris. Those colors are always in fashion! Then, accessorize with color, dahlings!

For me, it's harder to pack the little things like devices, chargers, antihistamine (Spring allergies and occasionally help sleeping,) make-up, toiletries (I just need a FEW cotton swabs,) extra shoe inserts, bandages, razors, etc. Yes, it's that crap I find hardest to limit. In fact, because each thing is so tiny on it's own, just as I'm shutting the suitcase for good, I'm throwing in a few more of these things - just in case. Then I arrive and wonder where the toothpaste is. And I wonder why I have all this stuff I never used when I'm packing to leave. Sigh!

And shoes. OMG, I really have a hissy fit about what I will have on my feet. I'm old enough to understand I must choose comfort over cute. But it's always important that you have the shoes you want and wear them a lot before you go. Get your blisters here. And if you walk on the treadmill or walk the dog with them and you are ready to rip them off afterward, shop for some better footwear. Again, even for men, choose black or brown over white.

And for me, I have some physical things to deal with so I need my special memory foam pillow and a few other things that you probably won't need.

This is why I try to start packing almost a month in advance - yes a MONTH! I pack and repack and subtract and add. I swear I dream about what to bring. I walk around the suit case and piles - contemplating their value and convenience.

It's not like I can't get EVERYTHING I need in Paris. But I admit it's probably cheaper to buy this stuff in Maine and haul it across the Atlantic.

So, do you want to see what I'm bringing for clothes for my two weeks?
Really, this is for 2 weeks.
 My picture doesn't show the do-dads and thing-a-ma-bobbies I'll add to the suitcase and carry on. It also includes some things I will wear on the plane.

Since I'll be leaving from and returning to Boston (brr) the packable light weight down jacket will be perfect. Also, Paris is not that warm (usually) in March. Besides the down jacket, I have a fleece shirt and fleece jacket. I live in Maine and pretty much wear these all year round so it's a safe bet that I will be wearing them while there.

Yes, the boots are my slave to fashion. They're pretty comfy, but probably better for those evening strolls than the all-day-marathon around the city. I have one dressy black tunic and the rest of my shirts are sweaters and v-neck long sleeve shirts. Three pairs of jeans - different shades and styles - round out the major clothing. The belt - which I'll pack since I don't want to take it off during the parade through airport security, is blue on one side, black on the other!

And yes, that IS vintage shag carpet. ;)

Yes, the stuff I won't wear on the plane fits - at least for now!

Once I get it all in there, I feel a little like Genie from Aladdin - Mighty packing power and multiple fashion statements...all in a little teeny tiny packing space.

I don't have the pillows and other comfort things I bring to accommodate my physical needs. But the pillow will become a pancake with a vacuum bag. I pack a few other bags for the trip back when everything seems to have multiplied. Vacuum bags are great at saving space. But remember, they take the air out, but not the weight. Be sure you weigh the bag before you leave for the airport. The above weighed approximately 27 lbs.  Room for more stuff - SCORE!!

For more information about packing, see my Packing for Paris page. I now include a downloadable check list for your trip!

Friday, February 19, 2016

I'm In Love With The 10th!

A lock on the Canal Saint Martin, Paris
A Lock on the Canal Saint Martin
The 10th arrondissement, that is!

The 10th used to be industrial, off the beaten path, only some place you went to get to the Gare de Nord or Gare d'Est. It was kind of dirty, working class, not pretty.Except for the Canal Saint Martin with it's bridges.

Once, when I lived in Paris in the 1980s, I wandered up there. I was totally outside of my 7th arrondissement comfort zone. I had been working for a Countess and my best (only) friend was also a Countess, though I never let on I knew!

While I'd grown accustomed to the chic little boutiques selling to the barely surviving aristocratic class, this seemed strange and wonderful. Even I could afford to buy something here. People were selling food selling outside of the stores and people dressed normally - as in NOT in Hermes and Dior!

Why I didn't go back again, I'll never know. I was 23 and who knows what was in my head!
Street Music in the 10th arrondissement of Paris
Music on a Friday Night
I just remembered that I loved it and felt that sense of discovery. I was also amazed that my Countess friend had brought me here, but we were going to rue de Paradis to see the advertising museum - which was fabulous. Later, in 1992 when I was in Paris with my husband, we wandered Paris looking for this street and museum, only to find it just as they were packing the museum up to move it into a separate wing of the Louvre building.

Many years later, I was desperate to find an apartment that would fit my family. I once again found myself in the 10th. For two weeks we lived there and now it's "my" neighborhood. It's become chic, young, and bo-ho - unlike in the 1980s.
A cheese boutique in the 10th arrondissement, Paris
An Awesome Cheese Store

Fun and Diversity in the 10th
As I pack my suit cases for another 2 week trip, I just can't wait to "go home." I can't wait to explore the new little restaurants with reasonable prices, the romantic nooks and crannies, and explore the neighborhoods just a bit further out and off the tourist beaten track. This will be my third time in this same neighborhood and this time just my husband and me again.

The Canal Saint Martin in the evening, Paris
Not Dirty, Dark, and Dingy Anymore!
The one thing we will probably NOT be doing is having romantic strolls in the evening along the Canal Saint Martin. I've timed it all wrong and our trip is smack in the middle of the three month cleaning and repairing of the canal. C'est la vie.

So much to discover in Paris, even after 11 previous visits!!

Need help planning a trip to Paris of your own? Visit ParisMadeSimple and I can help!