Visions of the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, delectable cheese, fresh baguettes, and chocolate are dancing in your head – inspiring your decision to whisk off to Paris and experience that certain je ne sais quoi.
As a backpacker, off-the-beaten-track travel and typical outdoor wear – shorts, t-shirts and hiker shoes – seem like the norm. Paris, however, is a different story. Perhaps you’re unsure – or even intimidated – about fitting into this fashion mecca as a budget traveler.
Fear not! We have your ultimate Paris survival guide with specifics tips on what to pack for Paris for being practical and stylish – while fitting everything you need into a carry-on size backpack. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
So, what does this oh-so-handy guide include? Just about everything you need to know, that’s what! You’ll find a Paris packing essentials checklist with our top-22 needs packing list, tips on what to wear in Paris to fit into chic Paris street fashion, an overview of conditions by season and what to pack for Paris accordingly. We’ve also included a section specifically for women on what to pack, and one for men based on specific needs for each – plus a list of what NOT to pack for Paris.
Let’s get started, oui?
Table of Contents
Top 22 NEEDS for Paris – Paris Packing List
#1 – Nomatic Travel Bag
Before packing anything, you need an awesome travel backpack to put it all into. This bag will be your livelihood, so you need something that’s reliable and ultra-functional – and wouldn’t hurt if it was sleek looking too! The Nomatic Travel Bag is all of this, and is by far out top pick for the best backpack to pack for Paris! It’s the carry-on size with maximized space due to its smart and innovative design. You’ll love this bag!
#2 – Active Roots Security Belt
Paris isn’t particularly dangerous, but like all big cities, theft isn’t unheard of – and you need to take the proper precautions. Your best safeguard is to keep money and passport copies close and hidden from plain sight. The Active Roots Security Belt is perfect because it has an inner zipper pocket that no outsider would know is there – from the outside, it looks like a regular belt. Security and style in one– perfect!
#3 – World Nomads Insurance
Please don’t make the mistake of traveling without travelers insurance. You may think you’ll save a few bucks by foregoing this option, but if something should happen, it’ll end up costing you a lot more. We’re big fans of World Nomads Insurance because they offer affordable plans and cover everything you need – from medical or emergency situations to replacing lost or stolen items. The peace of mind alone is worth every penny!
#4 – Active Roots Water Bottle
As with all gorgeous European big cities, Paris requires lots of walking. It’s important to stay hydrated, and you don’t want to be a wasteful tourist that relies on plastic bottles. We like the eco-friendly, stainless steel 25-ounce Active Roots Water Bottle. It holds 8 more ounces than comparable bottles and will keep your water refreshingly cold on hot summer days – or keep your coffee hot on cold winter days!
#5 – Combination Lock
Our best advice for keeping your backpack safe while traveling in Paris, or any destination, is to always keep it locked when left unattended – especially when stowed away on public transportation and in multi-guest-per-room accommodations like hostels. The Active Roots Combination Padlock is small and simple to use and locks with a resettable combination – which we like because keeping track of a small key can be a real hassle!
#6 – Skeletool
Perhaps a multi-tool doesn’t seem like a necessity for what to pack for Paris. But you’d be surprised how handy a Skeletool can be! You can get a compact size – either pocket or keychain size – for easy packing and carrying. There are different tools to choose from, depending on what best suits your needs. Imagine bringing a fresh baguette and bottle of wine to your room – wouldn’t you be happy to have a corkscrew and small knife on hand?
#7 – Active Roots Microfiber Travel Towel
Even for Paris, a towel is an essential item all backpackers should pack. Not all budget-friendly accommodations provide the best towels, and if you should happen to be unsatisfied with what you get, you’ll have a good backup. We recommend the Active Roots Microfiber Travel Towel because it’s lightweight and folds up into a compact the size for easy packing. It’s made of antibacterial material and dries in under an hour, so no smelly towel to worry about!
#8 – Active Roots DayPack
It’s always worth having a daypack with you whenever you travel but often NOT worth carrying something bulky around. The Active Roots adventure daypack is hands down the best foldable day pack around, it comes with a water bottle holder, folds down super small yet provides plenty of space for your day-venture and is tough and sturdy.
#9 – Fairywill Electric Toothbrush
If you haven’t considered an electric toothbrush before, we’d like to recommend that you add it to your what to pack for Paris checklist! The Fairywill Electric Toothbrush has 3 settings for keeping your teeth ultra clean and pearly white – and feels amazing! It’s lightweight and travel-friendly and just one 4-hour charge is enough for 30 days of use. Give it a try, and you’ll be hooked!
#10 – SunGod Sunglasses
Your chic Paris look wouldn’t be complete without a fashionable pair of sunglasses. The great thing about SunGod Sunglasses is that they’re designed for performance – meaning ultra durability – without sacrificing style. With triple-layer scratch resistant lenses and sturdy frames made from SunGod’s trademarked Adventureproof Frame Material, you’re not likely to break these sunglasses. But if you do, SunGod will replace them for free. You can also customize the frame and lens colors to reflect your style. Check out our in-depth review here.
#11 – AR Toiletry Bag
Another backpacker favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
#12 – Travel Jungle Gym Set
Whether you’re in Paris for a weekend or traveling for a year, it’s difficult to keep your usual workout routine on the road. There are loads of workouts online to print and follow, but there’s nothing like being in a gym with proper exercise equipment. Enter: Monkii Bars. You can set up your workout station anywhere – hotel rooms, mountainsides, your backyard – and the pocket gym comes with its own app so you can learn the ropes (cough, cough) of staying fit on the road!
#13 – Travel-Size Toiletry Soft Tubes
The toughest part about carry-on travel is fitting all the toiletries and liquids you want in TSA-approved container sizes. Regular hard-plastic bottles aren’t as efficient as silicone soft tubes with leak-proof flip caps. Being able to squeeze out every drop of shampoo, conditioner and lotion – versus wasted product left at the bottom of hard bottles – makes a big difference when you only have a 3-oz allotment! Plus, the shape and softness help maximize packing space.
#14 – Packing Cube Set
Staying on the subject of organization, every little bit of it helps when you’re living out of a backpack. A packing cube set can simplify your life by allowing you to compartmentalize your clothing so that a search for one item doesn’t leave you pulling out everything you own to find it. If you’ve never used them before, you’ll notice a big difference and be thrilled to have them!
#15 – Digital Camera
Paris is just too fabulous to not shoot high-quality pictures with a good camera. If you don’t have photography equipment already, we advise looking into a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. There are plenty of great cameras to be found in a wide range of budget levels. Cell phone cameras take pretty good pictures these days, but you’ll be happy about your investment when you see the end result!
#16 – Cell Phone Camera Accessories
It’s inevitable that you’ll rely on your cell phone for at least some photos – even if you have the best digital camera in the world. It’s not always practical to bring your camera, especially when going out to paint the town red. Who doesn’t want a nighttime selfie with a glorious lit-up Eiffel Tower backdrop? A simple cell phone accessory – like a selfie ring light – will make that photo (and memory) shine!
#17 – Portable Charger
Your cell phone gets a lot of daily use, especially while traveling. It’s your top priority for what to pack for Paris because it’s not only your main form of communication but will likely be your Paris tour guide, French translator and Parisian map and navigator – all of which sucks up the battery quickly. If it gets in the red while out exploring – and you’re nowhere done with its services – it’s smart to carry a compact portable charger in your day bag and always have as a lifeline!
#18 – Universal Plug Adapter
There are a lot of plugs and outlet types around the world, and it’s frustrating and confusing to figure out what will work where. But keeping your electronics charged is pretty important, so it’s not something you can overlook. Either make sure you have the right adapter for France – which uses plug type C and E – or simplify things by getting a universal travel adapter that will work almost anywhere you go.
#19 – Travel Umbrella
Paris is a rainy city. Torrential rains aren’t always typical, but scattered light showers are – in all seasons. Thankfully, Paris is just as lovely on rainy days as it is on the sunniest of days, with its many museums and cafes to take shelter if needed. When covering off on what to pack for Paris, including a light travel umbrella that easily stows away in your bag is recommended to keep you dry should sudden showers appear.
#20 – Travel Pillow
Whether or not you’re taking long trips on public transportation while in Paris, we advise packing a travel pillow. It’s always good to have a backup if your hostel doesn’t provide one that meets your cleanliness and/or comfort standards, and it’s nice to have for air travel. As long as you get one that’s easy to fold down and pack, it’s a worthwhile packing item.
#21 – Sanitizing Wipes
You never want to travel without having a travel pack of wet wipes on hand. After a full morning of sightseeing, you’ll want to clean your hands before digging into that croissant! You don’t want a cold or sickness affecting your travels – the best way to stay healthy during your travels is to keep your hands clean and keep those germs at bay. Be sure to pack several – you’ll use them up quickly!
#22 – Travel First Aid Kit
You probably won’t do many adrenaline-rushing outdoor activities in Paris, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add a travel first aid kit to your what to pack for Paris list. Finding essentials there is easy, but tracking down the nearest pharmacy when you need something right away isn’t always convenient. Also, you can only get over-the-counter medications in pharmacies, so better to have quick access to aspirin if you’re struck with a sudden headache.
What to Wear in Paris
If you’re imagining runway models catwalking down the streets of Paris at all times, that’s not quite the reality. But Parisians are well dressed, well groomed and presentable when out in public, so you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb in baggy sweatpants, t-shirt, baseball hat, and old running shoes.
Our first piece of advice to fit into Paris fashion is to check the fit of your clothing. Though you don’t need to squeeze yourself into ultra skinny jeans and unflatteringly tight shirts, opt for cuts that are well-tailored for your body type. Too-oversized or ill-fitting clothes is seen as sloppy and careless in Parisian eyes. Casual wear – jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies – are completely fine, if they look well put together. Unless you plan on going for a run or to the gym, leave the workout wear at home or to sleep in.
Our next piece of advice for your what to take to ‘Paris checklist’ is to stick to dark or solid colored items that mix and match well. You can never go wrong with black. Grey, white, khaki, beige, navy blue – all these colors are classic and versatile. Add some dressier items to your casual options, like button-down shirts, blouses, dresses, and stylish pants and shorts.
Also, the weather will affect what to pack for Paris, so keep reading for specific recommendations on what to pack for the season in which you choose to travel.
Visiting Paris in Summer
The hot, summer season in Paris is short and not very intense – at least not the unbearable kind. June, July and August temperatures average between 65 and 78° F. There are days in July and August that reach well over 80° F, which is when you’ll find local Parisians flocking to the man-made beaches by the Seine, aka Paris-Plage.
Because Paris weather is on the colder side most of the year, summer marks the city’s high season. Tourist presence is at its peak, and you’ll encounter more crowds at popular cultural destinations. If you’d rather forgo warm weather for better prices and more selfie space at the Eiffel Tower, summer may not be your season.
Items made of lightweight, breathable fabrics – like linen, cotton and rayon – should make up your clothing choices for what to wear in Paris in summer. Here are two Paris outfit ideas for women: a flowy cotton shirt with a pair of dark capris and flats, and a solid colored mid-length sundress with sandals – which also works for what to wear in Paris at night. For men, a pair of dark-colored hybrid shorts with a solid-colored, shallow v-neck t-shirt is a smart choice. For a night out in the city, jazz it up with a pair of lightweight chinos and a black short-sleeve button-up shirt.
If you plan to hit up the Paris-Plage in July or August, pack a swimsuit and plenty of sunscreens!
Visiting Paris in Fall
September through November make up the chillier – yet pleasant – Parisian autumn. It’s also a shoulder season, so a great one to consider for more favorable travel deals and fewer tourists. The leaves are changing and the crisp Paris weather brings a lovely coziness to the city air. The average fall temperatures range from 45 to 60° F.
Though you may still encounter some warm days in autumn, the weather fluctuates and temperatures drop at night – and you never know when you’ll get some rain. You want to be prepared for a variety of conditions and cover your bases by packing layers.
As for what to pack for Paris in the fall – short and long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, cardigans, jeans, and pants are all good choices. Pack a light rain jacket and a scarf – be sure to have a thicker jacket for nighttime if you’re unaccustomed to cold nights.
A couple of Paris outfit ideas for men would be a pair of dark jeans, a light sweater and jacket for daytime – and a pair of chinos with a long-sleeve button-up shirt underneath a v-neck sweater and jacket for nights out. For women, a pair of dark skinny jeans paired with a well-fitted sweater, short jacket and booties are perfect for sightseeing and for what to wear in Paris at night.
Visiting Paris in Winter
Paris weather in the winter months of December through February are cold. You won’t see much sun, and there are chances of snowfall in the city. Winter temperatures average between 35 to 45° F.
If you’re looking for the ultimate low season in Paris, this would be it. You won’t find many tourists, except for those romantics looking for a white and dreamy vacation during the holiday season. If you like bundling up in chic winter wear, this time of year is definitely an option for a willing budget traveler
For what to wear in Paris in the winter, we advise packing layers to keep you warm and comfortable. Have one or two base layer choices for colder days – like leggings or thermal pants and shirts. Over your base, have a combination of long-sleeve shirts and sweaters. Dark jeans and well-fitting pants work for men and women. You’ll want to top it all off with a warm yet stylish jacket – a black down jacket is a versatile and weather-friendly choice. Pack a warm hat, gloves, and a scarf for warmth and for a touch of fashionable accessorizing.
Visiting Paris in Spring
The Spring months of March, April and May makeup Paris’ other shoulder season and considered by many to be the best of all. Temperatures are at their mildest and optimum for outdoor exploring. Keep in mind that it’s the second rainiest season in Paris – after winter – so be prepared for spring showers. Temperatures average between 55 to 67° F.
The bonus – as with all shoulder seasons – is not having to deal with as many crowds at historical and cultural sites. But be mindful that many tourists take advantage of time off school and work during Easter break to travel to Paris. This makes sense – as Paris is magical during Easter time – filled with Easter celebrations, brunches, and festive displays of chocolate bunnies and eggs crafted by world-famous chocolatiers.
For what to pack for Paris spring travel, we again suggest packing in layers for fickle weather – short and long-sleeve shirts, blouses, cardigans, light sweaters, tailored pants, and dark jeans will cover your Paris packing essentials. Add a chic touch to your look with a lightweight scarf that will also protect you against springtime chills. And, please, don’t forget to pack your rain jacket and umbrella!
What Shoes to Pack for Paris
When in Paris, do as the Parisians do – walk. On foot is the best way to explore the city, after all. When planning what shoes to pack for Paris, keeping your feet comfortable is important – but it doesn’t mean completely sacrificing style to do so.
A perfect option that will keep you chic and comfortable in all seasons are leather sneakers. Both men and women wear white or dark leather sneakers to compliment their Paris street fashion look – and are much classier than a typical pair of gym shoes. For sunnier seasons, a dark pair of flats or sandals for women are not only comfortable for sightseeing but also dress up nicely for the lively nightlife in Paris. For men, a pair of loafers or boat shoes are versatile and classy.
For the fall and winter seasons, fashionable boots are the way to go. Men should pack a pair of lace-up dark leather ankle boots that are classic for all looks – and waterproof! For women, leather booties are versatile and pair well with daytime and nighttime outfits. Who says you can’t be fashionable while keeping your feet warm and dry?
It’s always wise to pack a pair of flip flops for use in hostels – you’ll want them for walking to the bathroom and for the showers!
Females – What to Pack for Paris
Female friends, we have a few tips just for you as you prepare to jet off to Paris!
Our top fashion tip for what to pack for Paris for all females is to pack a maxi dress and a pair of dark skinny jeans. These two clothing items are the most versatile, as they easily dress up or down and are appropriate for most seasons. A maxi dress is perfect on its own in warmer and summer months and works perfectly for sightseeing and for a night out on the town. In colder weather, throw on a well-fitted jacket and leggings underneath, and you’re good to go!
Parisian women wear jeans in all seasons, and you should too! Black or dark blue denim is chic and looks great with a flowy tank in summer and with a slim jacket in fall and winter.
If you wear makeup, Paris is a good destination to add it to your ‘what to take to Paris’ checklist! Parisian women don’t go over the top, but some amount of natural, classic makeup is the norm among locals. Cosmetic pots are a lifesaver for keeping makeup carry-on size without wasting any valuable product. They’re perfect for foundation, concealer and other makeup you don’t need a ton of. Get the smallest size possible to give you the supply you need, and leave the rest at home.
Males – What to Pack for Paris
Fellas, we have some tips for you as you plan what to pack for Paris!
You guys don’t need to aim for a constant GQ look for roaming the streets of Paris. But planning a few classic pieces to blend in – at least a little – is advised. For warmer seasons, a polo or short-sleeve button-down shirt paired with lightweight pants is comfortable and stylish. For assembling a classy cold-weather classy look, pack a pair of dark jeans with a sweater and well-fitted down jacket – add a collared shirt under the sweater for going out to a nice dinner.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing shorts in Paris, especially during those hotter summer months. Just be mindful of the pair you pack. Shorts you would work out in, or play basketball on the courts in, isn’t a local’s look you’ll see out in public. A better option to keep you cool and more respectable are hybrid shorts – cargo-style shorts that are breathable and quick-dry.
What NOT to Pack for Paris
We’ve covered what to pack for Paris, so now here are our tips on what NOT to pack for Paris to make things easier!
- Don’t pack too many clothes. You don’t want to completely fill up your bag with excess from home. Pack key items to cover off on essentials, but don’t miss out on great Parisian shopping by not leaving enough room to bring stuff back!
- Don’t bring valuables or flashy items. When always on the go, misplacing items is easy to do. Plus, anything you wear that’s outwardly expensive-looking makes you a target for pickpockets. If you’d be sad to lose it, don’t bring it.
- Don’t pack unsensible shoes. Fancy shoes sound great for Paris, but ending up with less bag space – and sore feet after long days of walking on cobble streets – won’t be worth it!
The Best Backpack to Pack for Paris
If you’re still wondering what the best backpack to pack for Paris is, let us put your mind at ease. We’ve come across many travel bags, and nothing compares to the Nomatic Travel Bag – there’s nothing we don’t like about it, and we’re sure you’ll agree.
Starting with its functionality and practicality, it can’t be beaten. It’s got built-in pockets and compartments for maximizing every inch of packing space – from a separate shoe compartment to a water bottle pocket to laptop pocket – it’s got you covered. It even has an RFID and security pocket for added peace of mind. How cool is that?
As for design, this bag is smart. If you’d like the option to carry your bag backpack or duffel-style – no problem. It has an innovative strap system that does just that. It also comes with available chest and sternum straps that help ease the heavy load – if you don’t appreciate this feature, we’re sure your back will!
And – just as importantly – the Nomatic is made of waterproof, durable material meaning that this travel bag will be your trusty companion for a long time. It can withstand the roughest of conditions and looks good in the fanciest of conditions.
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Paris
Ok, friends – there you have it! Your complete Paris survival guide for what to pack for Paris with a helpful 22-needs packing checklist, including our breakdown of the seasons and how to pack for each. We hope you’ve found our packing tips for women and men helpful, along with our advice on what not to pack and what bag to carry all the stuff you do pack.
Focus on packing smart – with a stylish edge. Remember that just a few classic items, mixed and matched correctly, will get you a long way. And remember those things that will keep you comfortable and safe!
So, now all you have left is to get out there and have an epic time – au revoir!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.