Packing for Paris in March

Jan 21st, 2001, 07:04 PM
  #1  
AJB
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Packing for Paris in March

I need some help packing for Paris in March. If the French are less casual than Americans, can I still wear a parka type jacket which I like to layer over fleece? Jeans and sneakers? Are there great restaurants that we can go to dressed in jeans? How cold/rainy will it be in Paris in March? Do I need a rain coat or boots? What about rain ponchos? Gloves and scarf? Is there something I should'd be without?
 
Jan 21st, 2001, 07:56 PM
  #2  
Joel
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AJB,
Weather in Paris is about like that in Washington DC. March can be variable, but we lived south of Paris and very seldom found it necessary to dress for temps less than 50F in Spring. I'd watch the Paris weather the week before departure and take that as my cue as there can always be an unusually cold or warm season.
Obviously, you can wear whatever you like. If you don't want to stand out, avoid jeans and sneakers or anything approaching what we'd call athletic wear. You can always wear a leather jacket. It's virtually the most popular "fabric" around.
Wear what we call here business casual and you will be just fine. Penny loafers are out, but I'd get something with crepe soles for all that walking. Sweaters are the standard for staying warm when a coat isn't necessary: pull-over, v-neck, cardigan, etc.
You'll never see the inside of a "great restaurant" in jeans. I think the same thing applies in the U.S.
Nix on ponchos. Gloves and scarfs are very common---again, think business casual.
French men and women in your social class (i.e. able to afford a trip to Paris) will be well-dressed. Women are notorious for wearing high heels everywhere. I've seen them wearing heels in factory work areas. You don't say that you'll be with a woman so I wont belabor the point.
Best single advice I can give you has more to do with conduct than dress: keep your voice down. After living in France for a year my wife and I came to be able to know there were Americans around just with our ears. We make a racket!!!
One thing not to be without is wash and wear. I'm there on business from time to time and refuse to pack more than one suitcase. I also bring a bottle of Woolite which you can use to wash by hand in cold water.
The main thing to not be without, however, is a knowledge of how to use the Metro. It will save you steps, francs, and time.
 
Jan 22nd, 2001, 04:10 AM
  #3  
elaine
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Hi
don't be without an umbrella, gloves,extra socks, and turtlenecks or other tops for layering under sweaters.
If you were to search this forum for the topics "pack" or "clothes" you will find that it is a controversial topic.
Of course you can wear whatever you like, and if you are comfortable in jeans and sneakers than go for it.The object is not to disguise that you are a tourist, but the object might be (if you choose it) to dress a bit more like the majority of Parisian grown-ups who live in a sophisticated city. Some people see that as being pretentious; for me, it is
in common with the way I would dress in big cities at home. Do I manage to dress up just a bit while comfortably walking miles and still feeling that I'm on vacation, yes. In my opinion jeans can comfortably and cheaply be replaced by a couple of pairs of wool or cotton pants and/or comfortable skirts that can be worn anywhere. Add a blazer or sweater, a broken-in pair or two of flat or low-heeled shoes, and I'm all set. Walking on cobblestone streets while sightseeing is tricky with any kind of high heel. That broken-in pair of shoes that you think you want to throw out at home can be perfect for long walks while traveling and getting rained on. You can throw them out if you want to before returning home and save the weight in your suitcase. Again, to each her/his own. Perhaps not everyone in cities like Paris is fashion-conscious, but it sure looks that way sometimes.
You will be stopping into churches, restaurants, shops, and museums. I think you will certainly be treated better if you dress a bit.
 
Jan 22nd, 2001, 04:12 AM
  #4  
elaine
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I forgot to give you this weather web site (one of many) so you can check before you go
www.wunderground.com
When you access a forecast for a city, at the bottom of
the "current conditions" table, you'll see a box for
"Historical Conditions". It's great
for getting a general idea of temps/conditions during the
timeframe you'll be there.
I would suggest that you will need to bring a rain coat with a warm lining
or a warm jacket, and layers as I mentioned. Lightweight silk ski underwear makes a marvelous unbulky under- layer.
 
Jan 22nd, 2001, 04:20 AM
  #5  
Paige
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I have to throw in my 2 cents worth. In any big city, you see some of everything. If you want to wear jeans and tennies, go right ahead. But don't expect to wear them in a fancy restaurant any more than you would at home. I've traveled all over Europe in my jeans and tennies and never had a problem, but I don't eat in 5* restaurants either. I agree with Joel that your behavior is more important that what you wear. Being polite, not too loud and learning a bit of French will take you a lot farther than a pair of khakis and loafers. I recommend taking a very good rain coat (Goretex or something) and layering under that.
 
Jan 22nd, 2001, 07:29 AM
  #6  
Marsha
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Wear your parka and bring your gloves. Last year, at the end of March, some of the days in Paris were rainy and cold, some were sunny and warmer. Wear good walking shoes that protect your feet if it rains. And I agree with Joel: wear what you want, but be quiet and unobtrusive. You will never pass for a French person (your facial structure is different because your native tongue is English), but you won't call attention to yourself.
 
Jan 22nd, 2001, 08:22 AM
  #7  
xxx
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Paris in March is very cool still, maybe even cold. I think th poster who said 50F was a little too hopeful. Bringing a lined raincoat is probably best as this is a damp time of year as well. I would throw in the gloves as well, they don't take up any room.

Please leave the parka at home! i would probably consider this to look like athletic gear which is really a fashion faux pas in Europe, and no I'm not trying to be pretentious. Also, i'm sure you will find nice restaurants won't let you in in jeans with dress shoes much less tennis shoes. Dress comfortable but sophisticated is my advice. Wool pants, sweaters, trendy raincoats, dressy boots etc. I'm sorry but i live in a big city in the US and i can spot a tacky tourist a mile away here (jeans, white tennis shoes bright colored athletic jackets) If you don't mind looking tacky thats fine but I think most people would chhose not to. Ths is not a familyt rip to the Grand Canyon or Disneyworld. You are going to a sophisticated city where people dress more sophisticated!
 
Jan 22nd, 2001, 11:04 AM
  #8  
Christina
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50 is the avg March temp in Paris; in fact, it's about 50 now and has been in the 50s for the last couple of weeks, I believe (they are having a warm winter there). I absolutely agree that you should forget the parka, this would not be appropriate to me in any major city, even in the US (okay, orig I'm from the midwest and they might dress like that in Ohio). Nor are jeans and sneakers for going out to eat; you will be able to eat in touristy fast-food restaurants dressed like that, if you wish, though (ie Domino's Pizza, Chicago Meatpackers, Hippopotamus, Hard Rock Cafe, McDonalds, etc). Again, this is the same thing in the US; you wouldn't dress like that to go out to a great restaurant in San Francisco, NY or Washington. There are more casual brasseries or cafes you could go to in jeans (nice dark-colored jeans, not ones with sloppy fits and holes in them) if wearing nice boots or shoes and a nice top/sweater, I would say, as I have (eg, wearing black jeans, boots and a sweater from Bon Marche, I've had dates with French guys who've worn jeans going to casual brasseries or cafes, also, especially during the week), but ditch the parka and sneakers. I live in Washington DC and frankly get tired of tourists coming here dressing like they were washing the car or going to Disneyland; luckily, they tend to stay out of most nice restaurants I go to; even here, I've seen people kicked out of restaurants for wearing sneakers, even restaurants that weren't that fancy. I think a good long raincoat with thick zipout lining would be best. Recently, a 40ish male posted a question on outdoor gear for Paris in November and wanted to know if he could wear a parka (on a travel forum); I responded that he should not, parkas are only for ski resorts or things like that; surprising, a woman who resided in Belgium and seems to know and be articulate about fashion advised him that France and Belgium were getting much more casual now and lots of men wore parkas and it would be fine for daytime wear; well, I thought, okay, maybe things have changed, she knows a lot more than I do---well, he emailed me after returning that luckily he took another coat than the parka due to my suggestion as he felt very conspicous and foolish in his parka in Paris and ditched it after a day or two of wearing it. So, there you go. And, I might add, his parka was dark-colored and did NOT have a hood and he still felt dumb wearing it. He had pretty good sensibilities and style for a man, though, I was impressed. As for rain, March certainly may have some as any month, but it's not raining half the time typically, nor as wet as Nov-Feb.
 
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