If you have always wanted a full tour of France’s most luxurious regions, there’s no better place to start than Paris. A classic location for lovers, artists, and exciting vacations full of mystery and self-discovery, Paris is both one of the world’s leading creative centers and the capital of France. From here you can embark on a delightful cruise on the Seine River all the way down the eastern side of France’s lush countryside and through numerous glowing river cities. Whether this has been a dream of yours for many years or you’re just now looking into possible European vacations, a river tour starting in Paris and leisurely winding its way into southern France could be exactly the kind of relaxing, romantic experience you’re looking for.
But what do you pack? If you, like most people, have never been on a river cruise before, it can be difficult to know what to bring, what will be expected of you, and what will be the most efficient use of your limited packing space. It can help to build a packing list alongside your itinerary so that you have everything you need for both the cruise and any special stops or activities.
Formal or Informal?
One of the biggest debates when packing is how formal your clothes should be. How many dinners will be fancy? Ask yourself how many events will be wine tastings versus climbing historic ruins, or how much of your time will you spend sunbathing on the deck versus attending cruise parties. As a rule of thumb, pack with ratios in mind. If your week will include only one or two fancy nights, pack mostly t-shirts and comfy shoes with one or two possible nice outfits. If you’re going for a series of business dinners, pack mostly wrinkle-resistant nice shirts and trousers or skirts for a convenient mix-and-match.
What Is the Laundry Situation?
When deciding how much and what to pack, you should always plan for the laundry situation. Trips of one week or less can be packed for a single run; otherwise, you’ll need to plan for either lodgings with laundry facilities or a stop at a local laundromat. Most longer cruises will either include laundry services or provide them for a small fee so you can get your whole wardrobe washed halfway through the trip. If your cruise doesn’t have laundry or you want an alternative, wait until a day stop and locate a local laundry facility.
The One-Week Pack
By far the cleverest way to pack, backed by hundreds of euro-travelers on the Internet, is for a single week of versatile adventure. You want clothes that look good pulled out of a suitcase, wear comfortably in most circumstances, and can be combined in multiple ways so that you don’t have to worry about any individual piece of clothing. Ideally, each piece will also be relatively easy to replace so that if it is ruined by accident or left somewhere up-river, your vacation can roll on unhindered.
The first thing on any packing list should be your personal items, things that will make you happy, clean, healthy, and comfortable while you travel. This includes not only soap and shampoo, but also tooth care, shaving, skincare, contact lens cases and solution, makeup, prescription and nonprescription medications, and allergy management. The cruise cabin will come with a few complimentary items, but you’re better off making sure you have everything you need for the duration.
Light and Heavy Shirts
One of the keys to being comfortable while traveling, especially when you’re moving through a variety of terrain as you will be on a cruise out of Paris, is layering. You want to be comfortable in both warm and cold environments as the weather shifts and depending on what section of the ship you choose to spend time in. This means your best bet is a combination of light and heavy shirts. Bring three to five short-sleeve shirts or tank tops, two long-sleeve shirts, and at least one heavy sweater. You may also want a windbreaker, a warm coat, or a long warm sweater depending on the time of year you go.
Formal, Comfortable, and Adventure Pants
Your leg wear will naturally depend a great deal on your gender and travel plans. For lounging around the boat, ideally, you want pants that look business casual and feel like pajamas for the ultimate meeting of class and relaxation. Men may generally go with soft dress pants, while common cruise wear for women in Europe is leggings with a blouse or a lightweight dress. These are perfect for enjoying time on the cruise, but if you want to go on tourist adventures during the stops, be sure to pack at least one pair of sturdy jeans or cargo pants that can withstand climbing and sliding.
Pajamas and Formal wear
You will want two specialty outfits on your trip, but they are (usually) very different. First, you will want a pair of very comfy pajamas for hanging around your cabin or attending on board pajama parties. Don’t forget a pair of fuzzy slipper-socks. You will also need at least one really nice outfit, if not a few items that can mix-and-match into formal wear. Ladies, a single dark-colored formal dress and a pair of foldable flats will do. Gentlemen, bring at least one wrinkle-resistant dress shirt, a tie, and a pair of dress pants. Deck loafers are often acceptable for footwear.
Don’t Forget Your Swimsuit
Finally, don’t forget that cruise ships almost always have some kind of heated onboard pool, hot tubs, or opportunities to jump out and swim around at certain ports. When packing for your Paris cruise, don’t forget to bring a swimsuit to enjoy the full array of luxuries available.
Taking a cruise down the Seine River is one of the most luxurious ways to spend a vacation, but you don’t have to go crazy figuring out what to pack. Almost everything you need or could want will be provided on the cruise ship. So your bags just need to include a few stylish mix-and-match outfits and your personal toiletries.