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What to Pack for a Trip to France

Updated on June 14, 2015
You can find this image on a range of gifts on my online Les Trois Chenes Zazzle store
You can find this image on a range of gifts on my online Les Trois Chenes Zazzle store | Source

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:

  1. Single people, couples and families
  2. People travelling to France and Europe
  3. People using low cost flights
  4. People who want to travel light
  5. 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.

Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag
Cenzo Duffle Vecchio Brown Italian Leather Weekender Travel Bag

This bag measures 11" high by 10" wide and is 21" long. It is made from Italian calf-skin leather. It has a detachable shoulder strap and brass detailing.

 

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:

  1. Underwear
  2. T-shirt (long sleeved)
  3. Jeans or similar long, strong trousers
  4. Light but warm jumper or sweatshirt
  5. Good, thick cotton socks and/or tights
  6. Good, strong shoes that you can walk for long distances in
  7. If you are keen on hiking, wear your hiking boots and pack the shoes
  8. A lightweight waterproof with hood that will wrap up small
  9. A sun hat (yes, it will look bizarre but you can hold either the coat or the hat if you feel too shy!)
  10. Your watch
  11. Your glasses (put any additional glasses in your pocket
  12. 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!)

Helly Hansen Women's Vancouver Packable Jacket, Azure Blue, Medium
Helly Hansen Women's Vancouver Packable Jacket, Azure Blue, Medium

Women´s Vancouver jacket style combined with Helly Hansen technology. Superb protection against rain, with hood, lightweight and breathable. This jacket packs into a pocket so you can carry it with you wherever you go. Ideal for changeable weather!

 

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.

  1. 7 sets of underwear
  2. 7 pairs of cotton-rich socks
  3. 7 assorted T-shirts some with long sleeves, some with short sleeves and some without sleeves
  4. One or two pairs of shorts
  5. A skirt or one or two light dresses that don't need ironing
  6. 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
  7. 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:

  1. Phone
  2. Internet Access - Notebook, Blackberry, IPad or similar (don't forget leads, adapters, external hard disc, keys and other accessories)
  3. Digital camera plus download lead
  4. Kindle
  5. 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.

  1. Passport and other identity papers
  2. Any visas required
  3. All your travel tickets
  4. Drivers licence
  5. Health documents
  6. Insurance
  7. Lists of numbers of documents and emergency contact numbers in case of loss of documents (to be kept separately from documents)
  8. Cheque book
  9. Cash in your home and destination currencies
  10. If you're driving, all car documentation, insurance and emergency breakdown numbers and documents
  11. Car breakdown cover
  12. 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:

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Toothbrush
  3. Hairbrush
  4. Shaving equipment
  5. Nail file and orange stick
  6. Soap
  7. Shampoo
  8. Conditioner

Sundries - All Those Other Packing List Essentials

  1. Sunglasses
  2. Small towel
  3. Sponge or flannel
  4. A soft, foldable hand bag / purse
  5. Tiny French phrase book or your language/French dictionary
  6. A shopping bag that folds into a tiny pack
  7. Tissues, wipes or/and a loo roll
  8. 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 Jackets with Hoods

Columbia Womens Downhill Diva Jacket
Columbia Womens Downhill Diva Jacket

This insulated, omni-shield advanced repellency jacket cuts a stunning profile from park to powder to après featuring 100 grams insulation, the downhill diva is packed with warmth a storm hood keeps the snow out of your face while stowing out of the way when not needed

 

  1. Warm, waterproof coat
  2. Warm, waterproof, non-slip boots
  3. Warm underwear - I wouldn't go anywhere in winter without my woolly tights
  4. Warm gloves
  5. Warm, light scarf to really keep snug

Adult Mens Two-Tone Reversible Water-Resistant Hooded Jacket ( 2 Colors )
Adult Mens Two-Tone Reversible Water-Resistant Hooded Jacket ( 2 Colors )

zip closure

100% Polyester. Fleece Lined.

Machine Wash Cold. Tumble Dry Low.

Two Zippered Pockets and Adjustable Velcro Cuffs.

Drawcord Bottom Hem & Removable Hood.

 

Travel Check List - Emergencies - Don't be caught out on your trip to France

  1. Take a tiny first aid kit - a few plasters, paracetamols, a tiny pot of antiseptic
  2. 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.

  1. Original registration

    document

  2. Motor vehicle insurance
  3. GB sticker
  4. Warning triangle
  5. Reflective jacket/waistcoat x 2
  6. Headlamp adjustment
  7. 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)
  8. Spare set of bulbs recommended - you can be fined if lights don't work
  9. A first aid kit
  10. Fire extinguishers seem to feature as obligatory on some lists

Check your car insurance

Are you covered in France?

Before You Go

You're Pre-Departure Grooming Checklist

  1. Manicure
  2. Pedicure
  3. Hairdresser
  4. Spray tan

Did you find this packing list helpful?

Has this helped you to prepare for your trip to France?

See results

© 2012 Barbara Walton

Leave a Comment for Me - I'd love to hear from you

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    • fastpass2disney profile image

      fastpass2disney 4 years ago

      Great list:)

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @fastpass2disney: Thanks for your comment. Have I missed anything?

    • PaulWinter profile image

      PaulWinter 4 years ago

      We are going to France for a week next summer, your list is very helpful.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @PaulWinter: Where are you going, kaazoom? (Limousin I hope - lol!)

    • profile image

      aishu19 4 years ago

      Cool tips on how to pack for France...now I just hope I can go there someday.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @aishu19: Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, aishu19. Do come and see us if you make here!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      Until we had children, I never realized how much "extra" stuff we tended to pack. Once it became necessary to cut back on my own things so I could include our children's things, I found that I really didn't need a lot of stuff. Now that the children are grown, packing little and light is our standard. Great tips!

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @Sylvestermouse: It makes such sense! I can't bear to see people lugging huge cases around. Mind you, packing with a baby or with kids is a whole different ball game! Thanks for your lovely comment, Sylvertermouse.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 4 years ago

      Extra good tips for traveling, but your place sounds and looks just perfect for a next trip to France.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @srsddn lm: Hi srsddn. Thanks for dropping by. Have I missed anything??

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @BuckHawkcenter: Hoping to see you here next time BuckHawk!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

      Great list; some day maybe I'll get back to France.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @TreasuresBrenda: Thanks, Treasures-By-Brenda. Do come and see us - expect very light bag!

    • profile image

      LUMOSE 4 years ago

      Good advice for the list. My daughters and my biggest wish are to go someday in Paris.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Congrats on your purple star. Well deserved.

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 4 years ago

      A warning for people coming to Europe from United States, pay attention that the plug is different and you need an adapter, but also the voltage is different 220V in Europe and 110 in USA, so be careful before using personal appliances (electric shaver, hair dryer and so on.)

    • msmith1386 profile image

      msmith1386 4 years ago

      That is a fantastic lens! I love the lists. Those really give helpful information when it comes to someone who has never been to France before (like myself). I hope to visit France one day. Thanks for the great lens!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 4 years ago from Idaho

      What a well thought out list of what to pack on the trip to France, congratulations on your purple star!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Very helpful indeed :)

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your purple star. Very thorough lists and tips. I'd love to see France one day.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      If ever I get the opportunity to travel to France I would love to stay in your vacation gite. It sounds like a lovely cottage experience. Not having traveled abroad I can still say you have given a thorough checklist for travelers who do so.

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Chicago area

      Useful recommendations! I am a bit embarrassed, having not known we should cover shoulders when in churches, but it makes sense. Will do that from now on! Also, I have a brown leather bag similar to the one you feature, and the finish on it has gotten even nicer with age -- a good investment :)

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      This is a part of France I didn't visited yet... some day I'll come back with great pleasure. I pin your lens to have it handy

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 4 years ago

      I spent a nice month backpacking in France back in 2002 -- wish I could make it again!

    • robertred24 profile image

      robertred24 3 years ago

      Spent 5 days in Paris last december. Definitely, I will visit Paris many times more.

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