February 2, 2015 - Better You, Casual Chic Outfit Basics, Easy Outfits, Mother Daughter Style Series, Style

Parisian Dreaming

I’ve had a secret for the past month and it’s been KILLING me not to say anything.

My daughter and I are going to PARIS next month!

The stars aligned for this trip big time – I had some frequent flyer points about to expire and a sweet girl turning 16 who’s dream is to go to Paris (and not to drive or have a car!).  What better reason to plan a spring break trip to the City of Lights?  It is a life-long dream come true for me too.

So, back to the part about it being a secret.  Well, I booked the trip at the beginning of January but had to keep it a secret from Aubrey (the birthday girl) until this past weekend when we celebrated her sixteenth birthday.  My husband and I almost slipped and said something SO many times!

Aubrey and I have had many talks in the past, daydreaming about Paris and what it would be like.  Last week, she was working on a school project where she had to make a timeline of her life for the next 10 years.  One thing on that timeline was “take my mom to Paris after I get my first job”.  I had to fight back the tears when I read it.

We were both crying though when she opened her gift – this box shaped like a suitcase that held her itinerary and a bright pink journal that says “Paris is Always a Good Idea” (Bonus:  Aubrey is also an Audrey Hepburn lover).

Paris-gift

You’d better believe I’m already working on my packing list.  We have just over a month before the trip!   You can also bet your bippy that I’ll be trend-spotting in one of the most fashionable places in the world for the upcoming GYPO Spring Style Challenge.

In the meantime, here are some perfectly Parisian inspired wardrobe essentials that will definitely be in my suitcase.

Paris-Packing-List

[Striped Top/Straight Jeans/Gold Hoops/Trench Coat/White Blouse/Black Skinny Jeans/Gray Sweater/Blush Ballet Flats/Black Heeled Boots/Gray Travel Tote]

It’s Your Turn:  Have you been to Paris?  Do you have any travel or packing tips?  If so, please share them with me in the comments!

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111 Comments

  1. Oh Alison, what a lovely gift! You are your daughter are going to have so much fun! We just went to Paris last summer, it was wonderful. My packing tips – good walking shoes, a small umbrella and a light rain jacket. We had a lot of sprinkles and we were there in July. 🙂

  2. Paris is so fun! Check the weather because it will still be cold and you will need to dress really warm or at least in layers. We went in December and I had layers but was still cold.

  3. I’m not sure how well you and your daughter speak French, but my tip is to start every conversation with ‘bonjour’. It will be appreciated, even if that’s all you can say.

  4. So excited for you and your daughter! My husband and I are going in August. Great to see what you’ll be packing!

  5. I took my daughter to Paris for her 16th birthday a few years ago – she still says it was the best trip she’s ever taken! You will have so much fun! Making memories!!!

  6. What a special trip for the two of you! This post made me tear up, and I am so excited for you two. I hope to do the same thing one day but I also want my mom to come along. Can’t wait to hear all about the details!
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

  7. What a great gift! I did not find the Parisians very friendly when I visited, so my tip would be know you French.

  8. What perfect timing!! My sister and I are surprising our mum is May for her 60th. I love your packing list and can’t wait to see all your photos. Have a great trip!

  9. Well…that brought tears to my eyes!! I have a 15 year old and we were just talking about what she would enjoy most for her birthday. Europe was definitely on the list. Paris is a magical place–the museums, the shopping the food. Enjoy!

    Also, is it too late to sign up for your new series?

    Thanks!

  10. Oh how exciting! Happy bday to your daughter. Paris is on my bucket list too. My 13 yr old daughter would love to go for her 16th I’m sure!! Cant wait to see all the photos!!

  11. How exciting for you and your daughter! My husband and I were in Paris in October and the best tip we got was to take the Big Red Bus tour, something that I would have said was far too touristy for me to consider. It takes you past all of the major attractions of Paris so you get a sense of the city. Because you purchase a 2-day pass, the second day you can then use the Red Bus as your transportation to the various sites that you want to go back to visit and spend more time since you can get on and off the bus all day at any of its stops. If you do it, try to get on the top of the bus for the best views!

  12. What a wonderful experience/gift! I wish you both a wonderful time. We went to Paris in May 2013. It rained everyday and l LOVE the black Merrell raincoat I got for the trip. (Looks a lot like the trench coat in the Paris wardrobe above.) We found that the hotel had better umbrellas to borrow than the little ones we brought.

    You might also add some layers to the lovely wardrobe above for warmth. Paris is chilly year round. Audrey Hepburn wore the lightest clothes in Marseille on the Mediterranean. 🙂

  13. How exciting! Can’t wait to see pics! I got teary-eyed with her goal of taking you to Paris too! So sweet. She loves her mom! Have fun and be safe!

  14. Hi Allison! I’m so happy & excited for you and your lucky daughter! I was so blessed to do this trip with my daughter a few years back! Ours was an early high school graduation gift the summer before her senior year. We did two weeks together staring in the English countryside ( a visit with a cousin living outside the naval base) then a 4 day trip to Paris & ending in London! It was fabulous! We were able to do our trip with only carry on luggage and some power packing! We also shared some clothes- which helped a lot! Looks like you have a great start! Our biggest surprise was how cold and rainy it was that June in Paris; so be sure to have light sweaters to layer, packable umbrellas,and comfortable (stylish) shoes for lots of walking and sightseeing! We both took a cross body bag that we wore under our coats in the airport with passports, etc. plus a larger, stylish tote. The smaller cross body was great ( and secure) for daytime as large totes must be checked &left in many places such as the Lourve. Best miscellaneous items to remember: refillable water bottle, Dr.Scholl Blister bandages, moleskin for blisters (never comes off & so cushiony) travel journals and free app on phone that allow you to text home for free! Enjoy!!! Bonjour!

      1. Hi Allison! The free app for free international texting we used is called ‘ whatsapp’ and you will need an international sim card as well. It is much less expensive than purchasing an international cell plan. We wanted to be able to let my husband know that we had arrived safely and be available to stay in touch with the kids at home & give them exciting travel updates! We also did the shutterfly photo books as soon as we got home! Great memories! We never leave for a trip without tucking in several protein bars, small bags of nuts, etc. Even though you are in France & will likely be enjoying lovely snacks at bistros and fabulous meals; food is unbelievably expensive and having something to take in your day bag while out touring or shopping will hold you over between meals! (Echoing previous comments- be sure to have WARM sweaters, socks, & gloves! WE froze in the cold rain in June!) Can’t wait to hear about your adventures! 🙂

  15. How wonderful that you are getting to create this lasting memory with your daughter! I would love to have been a fly on the wall to see her open that box. Paris is on my bucket list. Have a wonderful time –looking forward to seeing some of the fashion inspiration for spring and summer. P. S. My daughter’s name is Audrey…..and she has pics of Audrey Hepburn on her bedroom wall. 🙂

  16. What a wonderful surprise for her!! I have always wanted to take my girls to France, but so far it has never been something that worked out. Take lots of pictures!

  17. Love Paris! My hubby took me for our 20th wedding anniversary. I had packed the cutest wardrobe…and then our suitcases never showed up! We ended up shopping for a few outfits at H&M. My tips: definitely wear comfy shoes! You’ll do lots of walking! Do the red bus tour early on in your stay so you can get an overview of the city. You can also jump on and off all day so you can see the farthest points from where you’re staying on that day. We enjoyed riding bikes one day. You can pick them up where ever and drop them off wherever. Definitely go to the *top* of the Eiffel Tour! Book online to avoid the long lines. Make a snapfish book when you get back to remember all the details and keep a record of such a fantastic trip! In fact, make two! One for her and one for you! Have a blast. Bon voyage!

  18. OhmyGosh! What an exciting birthday and how fun for you both! The memories you’ll make . . . yay! No, I have never been to Paris, but I love the Perfectly Paris wardrobe you put together. 🙂

  19. Alison! That is AMAZING!!!!!!!! What a wonderful surprise, I bet she was beside herself! And I can’t imagine anything more fun that watching her find out about the trip! Good job Mama!

  20. You’re probably already a pro at this, but my only advice is DO NOT OVERPACK. Fight the urge to play the “what if” game and do everything in your power to travel carry-on only. My husband and I got to go to Europe for our honeymoon, spent the first week in Paris, and the only thing that out a damper on our trip was lugging around too many suitcases. (Well, that and snooty Parisians, but maybe you’re fortunate to speak some French, unlike us. 🙂 You guys are going to have an amazing time!! Soak it all up!

  21. Dear Alison,

    This is such a nice gift ! You girls are going to have a blast !
    However, I am afraid, you should add a couple of sweaters and a warmer jacket… We have been freezing lately ! 🙂
    I am now wearing my outfits from the winter challenge !

    Have a great trip,

    Mathilde (From snowy Switzerland, but the French speaking part !)

  22. Have a wonderful time! I went two years ago and I had the most amazing time. There are so many cute boutiques and shops, I pretty much ended up buying a whole new wardrobe. I would really recommend climbing up both the Notre Dame and the Sacré Cœur de Montmartre, both are beautiful churches and the views from the top are stunning.

  23. How exciting for both of you. Went to Paris for the first time last September for our 25th anniversary. It was everything I thought it would be and more. The people were so friendly and kind to us. Only advice would be to pack layers and really comfortable shoes. You will be walking miles every day on uneven surfaces.

  24. What a great idea!! I know you both are so excited. Best Tip is walking shoes. You will walk every where. The city is very beautiful. You must get a crepe on the street, they are fantastic and visit the parfume factory, Fragonard. My daughter brought me back perfume from there that I absolutely love and always get tons of compliments. Have fun!!

  25. So excited for her and you!! My daughter and I having been planning our Paris trip for her 16th birthday since she was six years old 🙂 You both are going to have SO much fun!!!

  26. Hey Allison, what a great mom you are! I love Paris, it is my favorite city and I live in San Francisco, another beautiful city. The tip about the Red Bus is a good one. I did that too and you get a real sense of the city.
    For clothing, I would suggest one thing out of season, I have been when it was warm and supposed to be cold and vice versa. If the weather is cold, layers are a definite must. I hope you both love, love, love it!

  27. how wonderful and what a beautiful surprise for your daughter! Check weather, we were freezing badly on our Paris trip in April two years ago. Needed winter coat and boots. Have a great trip!

  28. Been to Paris twice and loved every minute. Went spring break year before last and it snowed! Versailles was covered in ice. The trench is very Parisian but not really warm enough if it is cold. Plus side of that was no one could see what I had underneath so as other ladies have said, don’t over-pack! Get the phone app for the Metro! Takes you where you want to go & back. Love the Metro!
    We made the trip to the Maille mustard store/factory. You can buy a beautiful little jar & fill it with the mustard of your choice. Then the next time you go back, they will re-fill your jar. A reason you HAVE to go back to Paris! They also had a divine balsamic velours that is wonderful on fresh tomatoes & other stuff.
    You will have a ball! Also Laudree macarons! To die for and the stores are beautiful!

  29. Ah…Paris in the Spring! One of the best places in the world : )

    Tips? Oh yeah. Take lots of $ (it ain’t cheap!) and the best walking shoes you can find. You’ll be walking non-stop.

    March weather can be a bit unpredictable. Best to pack accordingly with scarves, jackets, umbrellas and hats.

    You will have an amazing time and make memories that will last a lifetime.

    bisous
    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

  30. So excited for you! I would recommend a medium size crossbody bag to carry your minimal essentials plus an umbrella, camera, and maps/tour books. I found a tote to be so clunky and heavy on my shoulder, so I was glad I had thrown in a crossbody bag at the last minute. Make sure to buy some real Parisian scarves over there- they are stunningly beautiful. Have fun!!

  31. What a wonderful gift, Alison – and what a wonderful experience for the both of you!! Definitely agree with all the other advice on walking shoes – the best way to get around is to walk and wander, and take the chance to poke into shops and talk with people. I speak only a little French, but starting out the conversation with a little and at least trying goes a long way!

    You can pre-book a lot of activities online – we printed off our Louvre tickets and the lunchtime river cruise we took early. And if you have a chance, I definitely recommend taking a cooking class with La Cuisine Paris! What could be more of an experience than learning how to cook macarons, or wandering in and out of the Parisian markets and making a beautiful dish out of what you buy? http://lacuisineparis.com/ Seriously, I love them, and I can’t wait to go back for another class.

    Bon voyage!

  32. WOW, what an amazing gift! I hope to be able to do that for my daughter one day. She is only 7 and says she wants to go to Paris one day. It has always been a dream of mine as well. I’m sure you both can’t wait! Can’t wait to see any fashion related posts from it. I’m sure you’ll be inspired from every angle!

  33. They have a lot of protests and labor strikes in Paris. This could close down streets to your hotel and you would have to take the Metro or walk. So I would suggest taking as little luggage as possible. This happened to me on one of my trips to Paris. I was taking a bus shuttle from the airport to my hotel. The shuttle driver pulled to the side of the road, informed passengers that the protest was blocking the road and he could go no further. He dumped our luggage on the sidewalk and we had to figure out how to get to the hotels. I had two suitcases, so walking down the stairs to the Metro was out of the question. I ended up finding a cab driver who took me to the hotel.

    If you or your daughter are Jim Morrison/Doors fans, you may want to visit the Pere Lachaise cemetey where Morrison is buried. The cemetery has several famous people buried there. Even if you are not Morrison fans, Pere Lachaise is a really interesting place to see. Check out Trip Advisor photos and reviews. I went there on one of my trips and I highly recommend it.

  34. Paris is AMAZING! You will both love it. Before going read “Paris For Dummies”. It has great tips. When we went we picked a picnic from the book. It was the best! Eat plenty of pastries, take pictures of the beautiful storefronts and try to find a spot to observe Parisian life. Have a blessed trip!

  35. My sister and I did this trip with my daughter for her high school graduation, we extended it and also visited London….they’re so close! You’ll make great memories. Like everyone has said, it will be quite cool, so bring layers. Scarves for sure, light sweaters, consider a trench that’s also a rain coat. I bought a perfect last fall from Lands End, love the style, it’s bkack as well so wrinkles and dirt won’t show. I used it in September for a long European vacation. Also, they’re total sticklers on no more than 50 lb bags, consider buying a new suitcase that’s as light as possible and has four wheels. Travel pro is my favorite, 25″ or no bigger than 27″, still manageable. Leave room and weight for some souvenirs.

    1. That sounds like a beautiful trip Amy! What time of the year did you go visit Paris and London? I might need to buy a new suitcase to bring home. 🙂

      1. Hi Allison, I was there with my daughter the last two weeks of June! We had to shop for more pants while there, we hadn’t packed enough warm clothing, and it rained a lot. I’ve been there other times for work, and my constant memory is more warm clothes!

  36. We went to Paris last summer, and we loved every minute of it. I know your daughter and you will have a blessed time. I agree with all of the people who mentioned getting tickets ahead of time…especially for the Eiffel Tower. We used Fat Tire Bike Tours (though ours was just a walking tour) and we were extremely pleased.
    *Take a lock to lock on one of the fences along the Seine.
    *Be sure to take a Seine River Cruise at night. The Eiffel Tower lights up around 11:00 p.m.–Stunning!
    *The red “Hop on, hop off” bus is a great way to see the major sites.
    *Unlike here in the states where we want everything quickly, Paris meals are very slow-paced and relaxed. Don’t expect to get in and out of a cafe quickly if you need to be somewhere at a certain time. Enjoy the slow pace. It was a pleasant change.
    *The Louvre is beautiful, but if you don’t have much time and you really want to see the Mona Lisa, wait until an hour or two before closing to go. We didn’t have to wait in any lines. We went straight to the Mona Lisa, and we didn’t have a wait to see her either. Then, you can enjoy looking around until closing.
    *Try at least one chocolate croissant while you are there.
    *Don’t let the long line in front of Notre Dame discourage you. It moves very, very quickly.
    *Say please and thank you in French to all of your waitstaff/bellhops etc. They like that you are making the effort. Everyone we met was very friendly on the trip.
    Have a great time!

      1. Yes. We took our son and daughter (both teenagers). They loved it! Can’t wait to hear how you both enjoy it.

  37. My daughter and I traveled to Paris also. A couple of additional tips: Learn the Metro system. It is wonderful and easy to use even if you don’t speak French. Which brings me to my second point: Do learn some basic French…even if it is to say, “I am sorry, I don’t speak French”…and DO use “Bon Jour ” and “Auvoir” when entering and exiting stores..considered basic courtesy. The only rudeness we observed was when non French speaking tourists expected service in their own language immediately!! Not well received by the French!

    Also, do not be surprised by dog droppings on the sidewalks. They love their pets, taking them every where but have no laws regarding cleansing up after!

    Have fun..lovely city.

    Linda

  38. Happy Birthday for your girl! You made her such a great gift. It´s not only Paris, it´s mother-daughter-quality time. I went to New York and Paris with my mother and we both will never forget our time together. These trips are enclosed in our hearts forever.

    You will love Paris in spring! It´s beautiful and in my opinion it´s a special time to visit this beautiful city. I´ve been there several time since my first trip back in 1989. If you need some special advice, I would be pleased to help you. If you have the choice: avoid the crowds and stroll around quiet corners in the city. If you need a scary experience: visit the catacombes (it´s unique)

    Some other great ideas:
    – visit the Musee de l´Orangerie, it´s small and has some great work of Claude Monet
    – visit the Musee d´Orsay or Musee Marmottan, both have great collections of impressionism
    – take the train to see Versailles
    – If the weather is good: take the stairs up to the second floor of the Eiffel tower
    – visit the top of Tour Montparnasse for a birds eye view of the city including the Eiffel tower
    – avoid Sacre Coeur at night
    – visit the Pere-Lachaise graveyard (it´s beautiful and very quiet)
    – for a first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower: take the metro to Trocadero and enjoy your first view when you walk around the corner
    – enjoy your hotel room (rooms are usually very small and so are the houses)
    – don´t expect a big breakfast, enjoy croissants and little black coffees (petit noir)
    – take a lunch break in a brasserie
    …this could be an endless list and you just brought me in the mood to travel to Paris, too!

    When you walk around the city you will notice that the Parisian ladies have their special kind of style. You can easily spot the tourists. The Parisians carry expensive handbags or wear expensive shoes. It´s difficult to explain but they have their special style noone can ever copy.

    I wish you both a great trip!

  39. We took our son to Paris in Dec. when he was 15. It was rainy, foggy and cold at night so plan on warm clothing for walking after dark! We used uncle’s apartment 2 blocks from Champs-Elysées so we walked most everywhere, using taxi and underground only a few times. Be sure to ask for translation of menu if you are not sure about ordering! Restaurants on West Bank were small and crowded, everyone had to move for new diner to sit! You will have a wonderful time with daughter!!

  40. What a lovely gift! We took our daughter to London & Paris for spring break this past year as her graduation gift. We had an incredible time!

    Let’s see… packing tips — we each traveled with a carryon & personal item, and that was it. Lots of layers, great (waterproof!) walking shoes, good raincoat, and a variety of scarves. I mention the scarves specifically because looking at our photos, over & over we saw our shoes, the bottoms of our pants, our coats — and the scarves that changed daily. I was SO glad I’d taken lots of scarves, because otherwise, I’d have looked the same every day. Don’t bother taking more than one purse, and make sure that the purse you take is a crossbody.

    Whenever I finish a trip, I make myself a list of future takeaways for next time I return to that destination. One of my notes to myself was that dressy jeans & a nicer top can get you in nearly everywhere in Paris. It was not nearly as formal as I’d expected.

    I made myself lots of other notes as well. Feel free to drop me a message if you’d like them. Trying not to write a book here in your comments. And HAVE FUN!!!

  41. My only real trip to Paris was the summer of ’99 after finishing grad school, but I got an unplanned afternoon and night there in September when the Air France pilots went on strike the day I was supposed to have just a brief layover! Having dinner and walking around the city that night just made me long for another proper visit! Enjoying reading all the suggestions in the comments and look forward to hearing about your trip! I haven’t done the hop on/hop off bus tour in Paris, but we typically do something similar on the first day in any foreign city. In addition to being a great overview as others have mentioned, it’s a simple way to get out and about when you’re jet lagged – no complicated navigation or logistics to figure out – just sit back and enjoy the views! You will have such a great trip!

  42. How exciting for you and your daughter. What a bonding trip. So excited for you. I may need some tips from you because my husband is taking me to Italy with a friend couple of ours to celebrate our 40tj birthdays! I am so excited to go but having trouble knowing what to pack. We go on March 16. Any help would be wonderful. Enjoy your trip and your time with your daughter !!!!

  43. That’s fantastic. What a wonderful trip to take with your girl. I’m envious! I’ve never been. Have a wonderful time! Bon Voyage!!

  44. Just came back from a business/pleasure trip to Paris. Here are a few tips:
    – if you want to see the museums, consider a museum pass. It will allow you to avoid long lines, especially at the Louvre and the D’Orsay. I liked the D’Orsay much better than the Louvre, but it may be artistic preference. The D’Orsay is definitely easier to manage. The pass is also good for some of hue churches and the Arc de Triomphe.
    – if you like Monet, be sure to see the Water Lily room at L’Orangerie. Spectacular!
    – if you can, stroll along the Seine at sunset. Gorgeous!
    – consider a visitor’s pass for the metro, it may be your best deal. I took about 20 metro stops over two days and still walked an average of 10 miles a day (riding boots were my friend).
    – pre-order your tickets for the Eiffel Tower. Again, it will help you avoid long lines. If they are sold out, lines were fairly short in the morning or you can do a tour – Fat Bicycle offers a good one. After sunset, the tower sparkles for five minutes at the top of each hour – I think until around midnight but check to be sure. Also, beware of pickpockets here.
    – spend some time in Montmartre. You can see why it was the center of art and culture. I thought it had a wonderful, fun vibe. I was at Sacre a outer at sunset and felt safe (on my own) but I’ve also heard the guidance against being there at night.
    – plan a day at Versailles. You and your daughter will love the hall of mirrors.
    – as others have mentioned, using a few French phrases goes a long way toward good will.
    Have fun! It’s an amazing city.

  45. I’m a little behind in my blog reading, Congrats on the trip!! Paris is my favorite city in the world!! The people were so polite and helpful!! We tried to speak French and they would always respond with a “thank you, I speak English”. I felt they appreciated us trying as I do when approached by a foreign visitor to the US. Have a wonderful time!!

  46. Alison,
    I went a couple years ago for my 25th wedding anniversary. We stayed mostly in Provence but spent the last three days in Paris. It was pouring down rain and all I had were flat shoes and my feet were soaked! Prepare for rain! Also, I was on a quest for a Longchamp bag (actually got a few) and I’m sure your daughter would love to get one. I will check for you but there is a place that sales them cheaper then the main store. I will see if I can find the place that we went to.

    You will love it!

    Lori

  47. Wow! Is it possible for me to obtain one of those boxes? My 15 year old daughter is going to Paris and south of France this year. Her birthday is comin up and that is near! Hope you have a fantastic trip !

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