What to Pack for a Trip to France
Deciding What to Pack for a Trip is Not Easy!
What to pack for your trip to France, or trip to Europe, if you're flying on low budget flights is quite a challenge these days. Many people have no knowledge of what their chosen French holiday destination is like, or they have very unrealistic expectations of the weather in France. Other holiday makers are just not good at traveling light. What you need is a really good packing list for travel.
I run a guest house and holiday cottage in Limousin, deep in the heart of rural France and many of my guests ask me what to pack. Others come woefully inadequately prepared for a rural holiday in south west France, so this is the answer to many prayers.
This is a catch-all travel list for packing ideally suited to a person or family traveling to rural France. It is probably not much good for bright, young things going to Paris or Honeymooners in Cannes.
I've created a basic summer vacation check list, with an add-on travel checklist for winter vacations in France, although this applies to Limousin, France and not skiing holidays or mountain retreats.
I've also tried to gear the packing list to light travel to save you cash on budget airlines such as Ryanair.com.
Who is This Travel Packing List For?
This travel packing list is not for exotic, tropical or cold destinations. Nor is it for the rich who can pack what they like and pay whatever it costs. It's not for specialist holidays, or for those expecting to dance the night away in Europe's hot spots, so Disco Queens can stop reading now!
This holiday is for anyone who is aiming for a relaxing holiday and is staying in a holiday cottage or 'chambres d'hotes', (Guest house or B&B to you and me), and planning to do a bit of gentle walking, swim and sunbathe on a beach at the sea or lakeside, visit a few local restaurants serving good food, and soaking up that rich, local culture.
You can get such fabulous bargains from the new low cost flight operators but to save the most cash you have to travel light. Just check out the deals on Ryanair.com to Limousin Ryanair. But beware - Ryanair can be a little tricky so read this before you book: Ryanair - Low Cost Carrier - What you need to know about cutting costs of budget flights
To be more specific, this holiday checklist is for:
- Single people, couples and families
- People travelling to France and Europe
- People using low cost flights
- People who want to travel light
- People destined for a simple beach or rural vacation
My Dream Travel Bag for a Trip to France - Packing for a trip to France would be a dream with this bag!
You can see from my introduction picture the sort of luggage that I have, but I yearn for the beautiful, the traditional and the classic. This is my dream travel bag. Perfect for someone who has mastered the art of packing and traveling light.
Contact Your Accommodation in France
Find out what they will provide
Save excess luggage by checking out what is available at your B&B, gite or hotel.
Some establishments will be very basic while other, and possibly more expensive, establishments might provide much more: slippers, dressing gowns, trouser presses and goodness knows what!
It really is worth a call or an e-mail to see what will be there as it will save you carrying a whole lot of things unnecessarily.
What You Might Expect To Be Provided In Your B&B
Again - it does depend on the B&B and on the price. It should be clear on the website what will be provided but if in doubt, give them a call. Some hotels or Guest houses have tea and coffee-making facilities, hand soap, hairdryers, bottled water, shampoo, conditioner and body lotionor even a handy pack of sundry cosmetic items that you might find useful (cotton wool etc)
Is there a TV, CD or other techy machines? Is WiFi available? You should expect towels and sheets at the very least but do check.
You should also ask for anything else you might need. For example can guests have access to an ironing board and iron, children's toys, books for everyone, adapters for English plugs. Can you use a fridge or freezer?. Are there plates and cutlery for picnics or a BBQ? What about baby equipment, changing mats, po, cot, bath and highchair?
Is there a washing machine? If so you can definitely economise on the amount you need to pack.
What You Might Expect To Be Provided in Your Holiday Cottage
Gite, vacation rental, holiday villa ....
A gite or holiday cottage is a different kettle of fish to a bed and breakfast or guest house. A gite is like your own house in that it is fully furnished and equipped. A gite should be well-equipped with washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, oven, fridge-freezer, TV, CD player, and Video - but they are not always - check. There should be crockery and cutlery and a whole range of cooking and food preparation stuff. There should be garden furniture, a bbq and clothes line outside. Toys and games, books and magazines should be provided, and baby equipment. Sometimes there is a charge for tea-towels and hand towels for the kitchen and table cloths and napkins as well as sheets and personal towels.
You will need to provide most household goods - from food to matches, washing powder, soap and loo paper. Think of your normal supermarket shop.
Summer Travel Checklists
In France that's March to November
This is a Travel Checklist of Items That You Will Wear For the Journey - I'm thinking of England!
If you are leaving from somewhere cool, wear these items for the journey, thus eliminating the bulkiest and heaviest things from the packing list.
Starting from the inside and working my way out:
- T-shirt (long sleeved)
- Jeans or similar long, strong trousers
- Light but warm jumper or sweatshirt
- Good, thick cotton socks and/or tights
- Good, strong shoes that you can walk for long distances in
- If you are keen on hiking, wear your hiking boots and pack the shoes
- A lightweight waterproof with hood that will wrap up small
- A sun hat (yes, it will look bizarre but you can hold either the coat or the hat if you feel too shy!)
- Your watch
- Your glasses (put any additional glasses in your pocket
- Your money belt and neck purse
Layering is key!
Good Choices of Garments for the Journey - If your departure point is hot, sling your coat over your arm!
Your summer jacket should be light, showerproof and have a hood.
(Winter wear - read on!)
Clothes to Pack
Pack for one week and do a wash if you're away for longer. Materials like silk, or artificial alternatives, and cashmere are idea because they fold up into tiny, light little packages. Cashmere is thin but very warm. Polar fabric is also good. Think non-iron as well.
- 7 sets of underwear
- 7 pairs of cotton-rich socks
- 7 assorted T-shirts some with long sleeves, some with short sleeves and some without sleeves
- One or two pairs of shorts
- A skirt or one or two light dresses that don't need ironing
- A large headscarf - great for covering shoulders if you want to go into churches, covering shoulders to protect from sunburn and after that useful in many other ways
- One pair of sandals
Silk and cashmere are perfect!
Silk and Cashmere Are Light and Warm - Beautiful, luxury items that don't take up packing space
Did you know that early north pole explorers wore layers of silk and cashmere to keep warm? Silk and cashmere are light and because they are so good at keeping you warm you can wear very fine clothes so you cut down on bulk.
Of course the blindingly obvious qualities of these fabrics is also that they are beautiful, natural, feel gorgeous are super-flattering and keep you feeling comfortable because they allow your body to breath.
They don't have to be expensive, but it really is worth investing in some basic classics - they'll last a lifetime.
Don't Forget to Pack Your Medication
What to Pack to Keep in Touch and Up to Speed - Gadgets packing list
No doubt you'll have your own gadgets, but these are my must haves on holiday:
- Internet Access - Notebook, Blackberry, IPad or similar (don't forget leads, adapters, external hard disc, keys and other accessories)
- Digital camera plus download lead
- Batteries and chargers
If You Don't Have a Kindle - You Need One Now! - Kindle is made for vacations
Imagine, all that waiting around at airports, in traffic jams, on the boat - what are you going to read? Or when you arrive in France, there you are in the Les Trois Chenes gite with a beautiful big lawn for sunbathing and views of the countryside, or a shady patio where you can relax from the heat of the day. Isn't it the time to settle down to a really good book - or two or three?
All that packing! All that weight. Deadly for the new low-cost flights. What if you don't feel like reading the books you've brought? Well, I provide a cupboard full of books, but maybe the one you have in mind isn't there? That's where the Kindle comes in.
At the airport slip it into your jacket pocket. Takes up no room and weighs practically nothing - but it contains thousands of books! Order the one you want while you're on holiday. Stock up with all your favourites before you come and choose to read the one you feel like reading at any one moment.
Read more about Kindle here. Our Limousin Ladies' Bookclub recommends them!
Not only is the Kindle light, small and choc-a-block with good reads, but it's easy on the eye too. Tops for me, as a nocturnal reader, is that it's easy to manage in bed too!
Documents that You'll Need on Your French Vacation - Document holiday checklist
Give a copy of all your documents and emergency numbers to someone at home, and also pack a copy of these in a bag separate from your documents.
- Passport and other identity papers
- Any visas required
- All your travel tickets
- Drivers licence
- Health documents
- Lists of numbers of documents and emergency contact numbers in case of loss of documents (to be kept separately from documents)
- Cheque book
- Cash in your home and destination currencies
- If you're driving, all car documentation, insurance and emergency breakdown numbers and documents
- Car breakdown cover
- Credit card
Cosmetics and Hygiene
Beware when packing cosmetics. Many items are banned from hand luggage, and others have to be sealed in special bags at 50 pence a throw at the airport. Read the small print of the terms and conditions or luggage information of your flight provider.
Take the minimum and just stop off at the first supermarket or pharmacy when you arrive at your destination and stock up with what you need.
Buy little travel bottles or save small containers and put just enough of the product to last you through your holiday.
For those of you who are taking more than hand luggage, travelling by car, rail or bus, you might find these handy:
- Shaving equipment
- Nail file and orange stick
Sundries - All Those Other Packing List Essentials
- Small towel
- Sponge or flannel
- A soft, foldable hand bag / purse
- Tiny French phrase book or your language/French dictionary
- A shopping bag that folds into a tiny pack
- Tissues, wipes or/and a loo roll
- A bag for your used clothes
Packing for a Vacation in Winter
What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Limousin - How to make the most of travelling outside the 'busy' times
Limousin can be lovely in autumn, winter and spring! I think these can be even nicer than visiting in the height of the summer and, of course, you can take advantage of low travel fares and cheap accommodation. Christmas and New Year is great here with Christmas markets and fairs, and what better place to come for a secret, Valentine Day hideaway break?
So what to pack for winter in Limousin? In addition to the summer packing list outlined above, but with the possible exception of swim suite and sandals, (though remember there are swimming pools, spa's etc to visit here in winter), you'll need a warm jacket, warm underwear and a pair of good, non-slip boots.
- Warm, waterproof coat
- Warm, waterproof, non-slip boots
- Warm underwear - I wouldn't go anywhere in winter without my woolly tights
- Warm gloves
- Warm, light scarf to really keep snug
Travel Check List - Emergencies - Don't be caught out on your trip to France
- Take a tiny first aid kit - a few plasters, paracetamols, a tiny pot of antiseptic
- Take a few safety pins, a needle and thread and tiny pair of scissors
What You Need In Your Car - This is the law in France!
Spare bulbs are no longer obligatory, but you can be fined if your lights are not working.
First aid kit - some sites say this is obligatory but others say not. Friends were stopped by the police in France and the first aid kit was the first thing they asked to see.
Getting to the bottom of rules in France is never easy so better safe than sorry.
Please check official sites and don't rely on my list.
- Original registration
- Motor vehicle insurance
- GB sticker
- Warning triangle
- Reflective jacket/waistcoat x 2
- Headlamp adjustment
- Breathalyser x 2 - check these are NF (the French standard) in date (Now not necessary until March 2013 - as they are not available for sale! -oops)
- Spare set of bulbs recommended - you can be fined if lights don't work
- A first aid kit
- Fire extinguishers seem to feature as obligatory on some lists
Check your car insurance
Are you covered in France?
For More About Motoring Abroad - Consult the AA web site before your trip France
- The AA
Before You Go
You're Pre-Departure Grooming Checklist
- Spray tan
Other Useful Vacation Packing Links
Did you find this packing list helpful?
Has this helped you to prepare for your trip to France?
© 2012 Barbara Walton