You've decided on a barge cruise with an overnight or two stay in Paris for your next vacation. How exciting! However, knowing what to pack and what to leave at home can seem like a formidable task. You want to be comfortable and chic at the same time, without overloading yourself with excess baggage. Packing doesn't have to be stressful. Below are a few tips on what to take (and what to leave at home):

Packing for Paris
Paris is the quintessential walking city. You'll definitely want to be comfortably heeled. A lot of Parisians wear flats (ballerinas, boots and booties, loafers, brogues), but heels are commonplace everyday shoes as well. However, if you're not used to wearing high heels on a daily basis, Paris is not the place to start. Consider, too, that many neighborhoods in Paris still have cobblestone alleyways and courtyards. These can wreck havoc with high heels and can even cause ankle sprains.

While Parisians tend to wear understated, solid colored clothing, relying more on the fabric and fit for style, they use accessories expertly...and so can you. Top off your outfit with a fedora or beret. Why not? You're in France, after all. Feeling cold? Wrap your plain black outfit up in a colorful wool scarf. And while in the City of Lights, watch the fashionable Parisian women and you’ll learn how to tie your scarf a dozen different ways before you leave town.

Packing for your barge cruise
Once you leave Paris, the pace and the fashion relaxes. Casual, comfortable clothes are the rule while you're on the barge portion of your vacation. Layering is a good idea, as spring and fall evenings and mornings can be cool, whereas the day time temperatures can be quite warm.

The dress code for dinner is relaxed and informal. However, for the Captain's Dinner, gentlemen may opt, if desired, to wear a jacket and ladies wear a dress or coordinated outfit. On chartered cruises, passengers may choose their own standard of evening dress. The weather in France is generally warm in June, July and August.

Useful items on a barge cruise include a sweater or lightweight jacket for evenings and air-conditioned interiors, comfortable walking shoes with low or no heels, and your swimming suit if your barge has a Jacuzzi on deck. During spring and autumn, the temperature is somewhat cooler and packing medium-weight clothing is advisable.

For men: during the day, they generally wear trousers or shorts, a shirt or t-shirt and a sweater or fleece. In the evening, occasionally, a jacket may be worn and some men even wear a tie, but we would certainly not say this is the norm. On most cruises, slacks and a nice shirt are fine as dinner attire.

For women: during the day, they generally wear trousers, shorts or a skirt; a blouse or t-shirt and a sweater or fleece. A change of top for evening is desirable, as well as a possible change from trousers to a skirt.

For the last evening on board, guests sometimes wear something a little dressier, but again it is certainly not necessary. Low-heeled comfortable shoes are the most suitable for the boat and tours, and a raincoat is also a good idea.

Additional packing suggestions include a windbreaker (especially for northern France cruises), a hat and sunscreen for summer cruises, good quality sunglasses, a European converter (two pronged) and, of course, don't forget your passport (be sure to check early to make sure it hasn't expired).

This blog was brought to you by The Barge Connection, specializing in barge vacations since 1998. We offer a diverse selection of barge cruises throughout the rivers and canals of France and other parts of Europe.