Welcome to French Fridays, your duty free stop for all things francais. Whether your trip to Paris is next week, next month, or next decade, I think you’ll find some entertaining, and at times surprising, insights into life in the most visited city in the world.
So you’ve got your passport, plane ticket, and “plan” (map) and now you’re wondering what you should pack for your trip to Paris. During the years I lived in the City of Light, I realized that there was one color that was always in style, no matter what the season: black. Even though Paris can be hot, humid and sunny, especially in the summer, twenty-four hours in the French capitol will show you why les Parisiennes favor black skirts, black pants, black purses, black sandals, and black shoes.
Paris is dirty. Don’t forget, the plague once clung to these streets, riverbanks, and alleyways. While the gardiennes hose the pavements outside their apartment houses and a cadre of street sweepers zipped into large emerald jumpsuits descends on the city most days of the week, there is simply too much soot blowing through the metro tunnels, dust billowing about the Tuilleries Gardens, and grime lodged between the wooden slats of those chamring park benches to even consider bringing only pastels to the city. And there is also the weather. Because, unless you hit Paris during a heat wave, chances are pretty good you’re going to get wet. So you need a color like black (or navy, if you absolutely loathe “noir”) that will stand up to thick raindrops, as well as a lined raincoat (my mother swears that one of the coldest days of her life was spent in Paris in July – and she lives in a gloomy northern city) and a collapsible umbrella.
And don’t forget your lightweight scarf, which you can knot around your neck French-style. Before you know it, you’ll be passing for Parisian: tourists in light patterned pastel clothing will be asking you for directions, no one will stand overly close to you on the metro in an attempt to separate you from your wallet, and you will get some pretty decent restaurant tables. Go ahead and bring some light colors too – especially if you are going to visit the countryside or southern French cities. Just don’t forget the black. Trust me, you’ll look and feel like a million euro.
My mother brings a lined raincoat with her everywhere she goes, no matter what the season. What is the one item of clothing you pack no matter what your destination?