Packing for Paris & Lucca

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, clothing & style, Favorite Things, Travel107 Comments

A few nights ago, I woke up in a panic.  I had a very vivid dream that I was leaving for Paris that morning and I only had 15 minutes to pack!  I have been excited about the trip, but it always seemed like something that was happening in the distant future.  It was now three weeks away and that dream was the jolt I needed to start seriously getting ready for it.  I’m not actually packing the suitcase, yet, but I am starting to try on outfits, make lists, firm up the trip details, buy sight-seeing tickets, and make some final purchases.

I thought I would share some of the things I’m packing, since that’s been consuming my time the past couple of days.  First off, in case you missed it, I am going to the province of Lucca in Italy for a creative retreat, so everything for that is planned.  I just need to show up and run some workshops and creative sessions.  My mom is going to travel with me and we decided it was a shame to be in Europe and not go somewhere else, so we’re spending three days in Paris prior to going to Italy.  I am about to burst even writing that sentence!

For those who don’t know, my dad was stationed in Germany when he was in the Army, so I grew up there and we traveled all over Europe.  It was a very different Europe then, though… east & west, separate currencies for each country, etc.  Living and traveling there had a huge impact on my tastes and style, though.  I’m always drawn to European things and foods.  It feels like home to me.  So, I am very excited about going back and experiencing it as an adult.

When it came to packing, the thing I figured out first was the clothing.  I just took a trip to China last year and I wore dresses/tunics and leggings the entire time and that was perfect.  The clothes are lightweight and comfortable, but they look appropriate for most occasions and, baring any major spill,  can be worn a few times before needing to be laundered.

For this trip, I’m bringing all of my favorite linen dresses.  Yep, and even some petticoats.

Please understand that I am not under the delusion that these dresses are at the height of fashion.  I realize I don’t look cool or modern or trendy.  I realize they are even borderline eccentric, especially here in the US.  But in Europe, women wearing “everyday” dresses is much more common.

If anything, I’ll feel feminine and comfortable and might look a little less like a tourist…at least until I open my mouth to butcher some poor French or Italian word that deserves better.

With the exception of one, the dresses I’m bringing are linen and in blues and grays.  The stand-out dress is a red and white cotton dress from Anthropologie.

Most of my linen dresses are from Linen Bees, one was sent to me by a reader last year (she bought it in Greece and it no longer fit her), and one is from Son De Flor.

I’m also bringing a white linen petticoat purchased from THIS ETSY SELLER to wear under the dresses for added warmth, if  needed.

I have a couple of antique skirt-style petticoats with pretty crochet and eyelet lace trim that I’m bringing to wear under the linen dresses that are a little more see-through in intense light.  And, by see-through, I meant you can see the silhouette of my legs when backlit, but the linen isn’t shear.

So, the total clothing packing list for this 10 day trip is…

  • 5 linen dresses
  • 3 petticoats
  • 1 linen tunic
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 cotton dress

And, other than socks, jammies, a swimsuit, and undies, that’s it!  Less clothes means more room for purchases!

For outerwear, I am bringing a small umbrella and I wanted to bring a light jacket.  I didn’t really have anything between a cotton field jacket and a wool pea coat or down-stuffed winter coat, so that was on my shopping list yesterday.  I was hoping to find something in a nice shape and color that was waterproof and lightweight.

I came up empty at the mall, but I found a great jacket in a surprising place – Costco!  This waterproof trench was just $30 and the classic styling, muted gray color, and even the linen-ish texture are perfect!

It does look a little bit like a lamp shade on my short, squat mannequin, but it has side buckles to cinch the waist, so it actually has a nice, tailored look.  (My brother pointed out that I wrote “buckets” instead of “buckles”, which is a riot.  Buckets on the side would not make it look more tailored.)

With clothing situated, shoes were the next big thing.  I have very comfortable boots, but it’s going to be a bit warm, especially in Italy, for boots.  I needed some shoes that were feminine enough to wear with linen dresses and comfortable enough to walk all over Paris or Florence.  That is a lot to ask of a pair of shoes.

I started with Rothy’s, since I’ve heard so much about them and that’s what other ladies going on the Italy trip suggested.

Let me start by saying I really, really, wanted to LOVE these shoes more than any other shoe I’ve ever had on my foot.  They are $125 for a pair of flats, so they should be loved that much.  I tried the loafers and the flats and I could not get the loafers (which were $165) to fit my feet properly, even after trying a couple of different sizes.

The flats fit me much better and yes, they are comfortable, but the arched heel (which is a part of their branding) does rub a bit.  They haven’t rubbed to the point of making a blister, but they are taking a bit of work to break them in.  I’ve been wearing them when I take Sebastian out for walks (which I’m sure looks a little funny!)

After going on many walks in them, the verdict is that I like them.  They are stylish and comfortable and great for everyday shoes that can be casual or dressed up.  The shape looks cute and feminine with the linen dresses.  As a bonus, they are washable and they dry quickly, so you don’t have to tip-toe around puddles or worry about spills and stains.  They are also very light, so they don’t take up space or add much weight to a suitcase.

The down side is that they don’t offer any cushioning or support.  I don’t need a lot of support, but I know that those flimsy soles won’t be enough on cobblestone streets after a few miles.

I am going to bring them for wearing on lighter walking days or even as stand-ins for flip-flops when I go to the pool.  I’ll definitely wear them to church, on date nights, etc., too, so they aren’t a loss at all.  Just not a home run.  (And I really wanted them to be a home run for that kind of an investment.)

If you’re interested in trying Rothy’s, you can get $20 off through this affiliate link.

The shoes that did end up being a home run, though, were a pair of Sienna Mary Jane Keens.  They felt amazing the first time I put them on and I walked around all day in them yesterday without even a rub.  I bought the black ones, because they were the only ones available in the store, but I bought the brown leather ones online, since they’ll work better with my blue dresses.

The Keens definitely aren’t as graceful as the Rothy’s, but my feet will be thanking me.  They are still lightweight shoes that pack small and the mary jane style makes them just feminine enough to work with dresses.

And, the real winning combination was the Keens with no-show Smart Wool socks.  That little combo there is heaven for my feet.  (Sorry for the linty socks picture!  I did wear them yesterday…)

The nice thing about wool socks is they won’t retain odors, so I can wear a pair a couple of times before I wash them.  (As an aside, I wouldn’t do that at home, but when traveling?  You just do what you gotta do to pack light, so you can shop!)

So, for footwear, I’m bringing two pairs of Rothy’s, two pairs of Keens, and 5 pairs of Smart Wool socks.  I’m not a big shoe-shopper, so this was a splurge for me, but I’ll wear these shoes a lot after the trip, too, so I think it’s worth-while.  Really, it ended up being the push I needed to do some serious shoe shopping!  I tried on so many pairs of shoes, it was ridiculous, but I narrowed it down to what works best for me and now I know for the future.

I’ve also been thinking about the art supplies I want to bring.  I’ve been working on this for months – trying out gouache, different pens and sketchbook papers.  I don’t want to get there and then feel frustrated or limited in my supplies.  I finally decided I would bring watercolors, ink pens, and a couple of watercolor notebooks for colored illustrations.  For sketches, I’m bringing graphite pencils, a gray-toned sketch pad and a white conte crayon.  I’m also bringing a small, lined Moleskine journal for writing notes and capturing inspiration.

I wish I could bring my oils, but it’s just too much to transport.  It’s not so much the paints and brushes, but it’s the pochade box and wet panel carrier, etc.

I must confess that there is a part of me that feels overwhelmed by the art-journaling component.  I sooooo want to get it right.  I want to comeback with notebooks and sketchbooks full of illustrations that can be translated into oil paintings.  I also see these sketches and paintings as my most precious souvenirs.  They are even better than pictures, because I’m capturing the colors and shapes and feelings evoked through my eyes and hand.   It’s my interpretation of the scene I’m taking in.

I wrote a post about this feeling of inadequacy a while ago…  my bad habit of buying sketchbooks and only filling a few pages only to rip them out.  I want to FILL these books and leave the pages intact with all of their imperfections and messy scribbles and amateur drawings that make me cringe.  And, instead of experiencing it with angst, approach it with joy.  I’ll be creating art in Paris and Florence!  There should be no room for angst in that equation.

When I do feel overwhelmed about something, I tend to dive into books and that is what I’m doing for this as well.  I am reading books on travel and plein air sketching, journaling, and painting to get inspired and ready!

The Painted Art Journal is a book by my friend, Jeanne Oliver.  I’m always so inspired by her and this book is wonderful for getting the creative juices flowing.  It’s also a great read if you feel like art has to be “like so” or it’s “wrong”.  She has a very free and expressive style that encourages you (me) to relax.

The other books are the Artist’s Sketchbook, Drawing & Painting on Location, and Sara Midda’s South of France.

In addition to shoe-shopping yesterday, I also picked up some travel sizes of cosmetic and toiletry products I use daily.  I’ll share one more post on packing before I leave for my trip (on September 8) as well as some details about the  sight-seeing we’re doing.  I will not be writing my usual blog posts while traveling, but I will pop in to share pictures and short recaps and, of course I’ll share on Instagram and Instagram Stories.  I hope you’ll follow along!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Packing for Paris & Lucca

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107 Comments on “Packing for Paris & Lucca”

  1. The shoes by Keens are my favorite. I have worn for 3 years. Mine have black Mary Jane straps in a denim gray. I have had 3 pair ( our Lab Libby loved them too and twice ate one shoe. I have never worn without someone asking about “your cute shoes”. They are so comfortable. Have a wonderful trip. I so enjoy your Blog. So many are trendy! But you have your own unique style. I love blue and white pottery also. Katie

    1. My sister-in-law has a pair and is always raving about Keen’s. I have a pair of their hiking boots, but I hadn’t ventured into their casual shoes. These are pretty fantastic!

  2. Oh, how fun! I took two years of high-school French, so I know just enough to butcher the language, too;) To paint and sketch in the province of so many wonderful artists must be a dream come true for you. Don’t “grade” your work, just enjoy every minute.
    Don’t grade your fashion sense, either. Those pieces fit your “Marian-ness”, and you wear them well. You’re right, you won’t “read” as a tourist, and you’ll be comfortable. How does U.S. currency compare to the euro? Would it be affordable for you to pick up some Italian leather shoes?
    Costco actually has some good deals on some necessary pieces almost every season of the year. I usually buy my hubby a pair of jeans there when they go on sale, and I have been eyeing the long down-alternative coats the past two years, maybe I’ll get one this year. They have sneaks (Avia?) for $15.99 right now, too. So glad there’s a Costco in my neighborhood.
    Looking forward to more packing posts, as well as the ones from Europe.

    1. That’s such good advice – “don’t grade”. I will do my best to just soak it in and get it on paper.

      Yes, Costco is a surprise sometimes! That coat is very nice, especially for $30!

  3. Love my Keens too! I have several pair in different styles just because they fit my feet so well and are so comfortable. But I think they’re cute too!!!

  4. I am sure you will check the weather forecast the closer you get to your departure date which always helps in what to pack. My late great-aunt was a world traveler going to every continent but one and she was a pro at packing. She always packed outfits that could be mixed and matched.

  5. I have a $30 rain coat from Costco that I got probably 7 years ago, and it still looks new. And I live in BC where we have rain like 9 months of the year!

    You should ask Michelle Wooderson about your art packing! She seems like she’s got a good system down pat. I followed her years ago as a papercrafter, and now as a fine artist, and can’t even articulate how much she has always inspired me in so many ways. She will have great pointers for filling your journals!!

    1. Yes, I took a class from Michelle and we are now friends. I agree, she is very inspirational!

  6. I travel a lot in Europe & in the US & I have some advice for you. You ought to check the weather forecast because it will be blazing hot in Italy in September. You’re not going to need the jackets or petticoats or anything for warmth. Paris is likely to be nearly as warm as Italy. As far as the rothys go, pick up some insoles with arch support. Game changer. And for what it’s worth you don’t need that many pairs of shoes. You’re going to be carrying your suitcase up & down stairs and down cobblestone streets. Traveling light is the way to go. Have a wonderful trip!

  7. Agree completely with Lisa – Italy will be incredibly hot. Lucca is beautiful but hot! Just got back from 4 weeks in our place in the French alps (outside Geneva) and even at that altitude it was and still is, hot. Hope the hotel has a pool!! X

    1. I have been watching the weather and it looks like it’s hot! And yes, the inn we’re staying at has a pool!

      1. Europe is having a major heatwave this summer seeing record temps, so don’t expect cool weather especially in Italy. I was in France a few years ago at the same time of year, and it was very warm. You might want to leave your coat and petticoats behind on this trip; I doubt you will need them. Have fun and try everything! You will find everyone to be very friendly and helpful.

        1. Yeah, I’m rethinking a couple of the petticoats, but the coat is lightweight and waterproof, so I’m bringing it more for rain or to use on the airplane as an extra blanket. I was freezing on the flight to China last spring.

  8. How exciting! What’s the name of the workshop in Italy? Is it a miss mustard seed chalk paint workshop? You should totally host workshops in the states! 🙂 I would definitely come. Hope you have a great trip!

    1. It’s called “Inspired in Tuscany” and yes, it’s a MMSMP workshop. It’s mostly retailers going along with a few of my readers. We’re actually going to get to paint furniture at the family inn where we’re staying in Lucca! How cool is that?!

  9. I’ve traveled a lot and really never took 4 pairs of shoes. 2 are enough or maybe 3 if you really feel desperate. I too would recommend getting some inner sole support for those Rothys. European streets can be killers with the cobbles etc especially when our eyes are looking everywhere because it’s all so …so European! I also think one petticoat will be enough considering the probable heat.

    Have a great trip! but then I know you two will. 🙂

    1. Great tips, thank you! I usually wouldn’t bring 4 pairs of shoes, either, but these are so lightweight and small that I’m going to give myself that choice! 🙂

  10. I took Sketcher Go Walks to Italy a few years ago and they were the most comfortable show I’ve ever worn. I wore them climbing the mountains between the Cinque Terra cities with no socks and never had one problem. They too can be tossed in the washer and dryer and are much cheaper. Have an amazing time. You will, I know. Enjoy.

  11. What an adventure! If for some reason you feel your sketches are not exactly as you would have them, use your pictures! Don’t stress, don’t worry. Enjoy this retreat. Be inspired. You’re going to have a great adventure! As for packing for your packing… A few ladies who went on many work and witness trips packed very few clothes. They said when they got back to their room they hand washed everything in the bathroom sink and hung it up to dry. You’re going to have an amazing time!

  12. I agree with Lisa about the warm weather & your cute new shoes. I have been to Italy twice & France also, both in mid to late August, and it was always almost as hot as here in Alabama, even in the northern area of Lake Como. You will love the quality of the light in Provence for your art; my only artistic ability is appreciation but even I could tell the light was magical as soon as we landed in Cannes, France! Have a wonderful & safe trip & please share lots of photos with us!

  13. Wow, I had no idea that they re-issued the Sarah Midda books! I loved them back in the ’80s. I might just have to get them again. I still have framed pages from “In and Out of the Garden” that hung on our walls for years. I even had a day book/calendar by her that was gorgeous.

  14. LOVE LOVE LOVE your outfits. Comfort and beauty are timeless. My sister and I met you (and Victoria Elizabeth Barnes) in NH when you gave a great presentation – I’m the one the gave you a pumpkin whoopie pie. We’ll be at the Paris flea markets on Saturday September 24th. My treat for lunch!!

  15. I was just in Lucca in May – I loved it. Great place for buying leather goods – they are amazing and the selection is great.

  16. I’ms so envious! My husbands father and his grandparents are from Lucca! I look forward to seeing photos!

  17. I love your outfits! Who cares if they are trendy as long as you feel good in them. What a dream trip for you and your mom! I hope it is all you have imagined it to be and more!

  18. If you have time for some travel journal inspiration before you depart, check out MaryAnn Moss’s blog – she does all kinds of exuberant sketching and painting on her travels and she makes her own journals…

  19. I’ve been to beautiful Italy a number of times, but only once to Paris- I am dying to go back!
    Paris was in the cool and rainy fall, so my leather boots were an excellent choice, but Rome, Naples, Pompei and Venice in the hot summer were feet killers since I brought my worn in Danskos which I thought would be great .Not! Too hot, too heavy, so I finally wound up buying comfy shoes in Florence, Italy’s leather capital..
    Pricey would WONDERFUL are the German FINN sandals and shoes, which have replaceable insoles..

  20. Have a great time! Sketchers were my shoe of choice. Walked all over Barcelona, Italy, and Greece. Many travelers told me about them so I bought a pair on sale at Kohls for $37 and they served me well. I can’t wait to hear about your adventures when you return (and you haven’t even left!).

  21. Went all over England this year and only packed 2 outfits and 1 pair of shoes.
    I packed a scarf and dressy earrings for dinners out with friends. When in Europe I always wind up purchasing clothes there.
    Next year I will wear a black knit dress and leggings with a go everywhere sweater and only pack 1 outfit. It works!!! I only bring a couple of undies and wash them out each night while I shower.
    Maybe purchase a pair of flats in Italy… I have purchased shoes there that seem to last forever!!
    Enjoy your journey!

  22. I’m so excited for you. I LOVE Lucca. My ancestry is from there, both my paternal grandparents grew up in Lucca. I visited there in 2009. It was awesome. Some very sweet shops there. I just know you will love it. I can see you up on the ‘wall’ with your paints, painting the scenery. Paris is wonderful too, I did love that food, lol. Have a wonderful time.

  23. Have a great time! Sketchers were my shoe of choice. Walked all over Barcelona, Italy, and Greece. Many travelers told me about them so I bought a pair on sale at Kohls for $37 and they served me well. I can’t wait to hear about your adventures when you return (and you haven’t even left!).

  24. When my friend traveled in Europe,she purchased thrift store clothing and left them behind so she could fill her suitcase with treasures

  25. I’d like to suggest Tieks for you! They’re flats like Rothy’s, but made of real leather and expensive too. While they don’t have much of a support arch-they do mold amazingly well, they worked fantastic for me walking all over Florence for 2 weeks for my honeymoon in my chestnut colored ones.

  26. I’ve walked many, many miles in my Keens and Finns. And a lightweight raincoat in Europe is always a good idea.

  27. Your trip sounds dreamy! I adore Italy, and Paris, too. We’ve done some international traveling recently, and found that the What’sApp app is fantastic for staying in touch with loved ones back home. It uses your phones WiFi connection to make phone calls, send pictures, and to chat (basically just like texting). The best part is that it is totally free! Call quality is great. Of course, if you aren’t somewhere with WiFi, it doesn’t work (or you can enable cellular data). But so many places have WiFi now. My husband recently spent 3 weeks in Scotland and we were able to talk every day and have long chats when really missing each other. Hope this is helpful! Have a fantastic time, can’t wait to see pics and read about your adventures!!!

    1. My old stand-by travel comfort shoes are still my favorite. They are Travel-Times by Easy Spirit. They come in tons of colors and finishes. The sole is so supportive and they are slip-ons but they stay firmly on the feet. You actually feel like you aren’t wearing shoes.

      And have you ever worn huarache style shoes? The Vermont Country Store has the most beautiful bright navy blue pair ($79) that would be perfect with your blues and grays. They are made of narrow strips of interwoven leather that stretch and curve to fit your feet. Some people recommend to immerse them in water and then wear them wet for a few hours so they will perfectly conform to your feet, though I didn’t need to do it. You really need these quirky 60’s style shoes to go with all those cute dresses.

      Happy travels!

      1. I had never even heard of those! I had to look them up online. Just another thing to try on sometime. 🙂

  28. May I suggest a pair of shoes you may never heard of but that you can walk all day on concrete wearing.

    They take ALL the stress of your knees and lower back. They were designed as “recovery” shoes after walking, running, any workouts. They are extremely light weight and can be thrown into the washer or you can run them under tap water. They are THEE only shoes I wear when traveling and after a workout. 🙂

  29. Thank you for sharing this post and all the links. I happen to love the styles you’re taking and wish they were still popular here in the states…..a style I always loved! Another cool source for linen dresses can be found at SeaSide Tones on Etsy. I’m excited to learn about the Keens shoes. I have their hiking boots and they’re awesome. I didn’t know they also had shoes. The boots had essentially no break-in to go through. I’m hoping to add a pair to my shoe wardrobe. Have a great trip!

    1. I checked them out and their linen looks yummy!

      You know, I don’t really care if they are in style or not. I think it does help that I’m “creative” or “artsy”, so I can get away with dressing a little eccentric. I don’t wear them everywhere, but I do wear them to church sometimes and when I do events (since they are so comfortable and easy.) Not everyone is going to like them, but that’s okay! I probably don’t like everything they wear, either! 🙂

  30. The thing is, no matter how much you plan, anticipate, think, over think, it will all unfold in its own way. And THAT is the best part in my tiny little opinion. And you have a camera/phone to take pics when you run out of journal pages. I think you’re thinking right, comfortable shoes are a must. There is nothing worse than aching sore feet when you are only halfway thru your plans. I took a foot roller and some mint foot cream from The Body Shop. They are small. When we returned to the hotel we would take turns using the foot roller and the apply the cream. It was like magic.

    I know we have more blog posts ahead, but I can’t wait to see what the trip brings!

  31. I love my keen MaryJane’s. However, recently I’ve added Alegria’s shoes. They are always having a sale (50% off). They are incredibly comfortable, especially when standing and walking for many hours.

  32. Your trip sounds so wonderful! …… Enjoy!
    A couple of tips: Do take some scarves. Several. They’re lightweight and don’t take up much room. French women wear them everywhere and you will fit right in.
    I agree with all who say you don’t need so many shoes.
    I travel to France often and by far, my flea market of choice is, “Vanves”. Get here early, by 1:00 pm it’s over.
    Notre Dame ( even if you’re not Catholic), Orsay, Musee de la Vie Romantique, follow Parisian workers and have lunch where they eat., feed the birds in a park…. Oh! What a wonderful time you’ll have! God be with you!

  33. Hiya! How exciting. I hope you have the. best. time. An idea for future sketchbook travels… purchase/create a sketchbook that is full of all of your favorite media in one book. You could include parchment papers, watercolor pages, light sketchbook pages, dense smooth paper, transparent and opaque vellum, pieces of a paper bag, the options are endless. Then you only have to carry one book and can still try out a bunch of different techniques! If you hapharzardly stitch them together in any order, then you can either jump around the book as you fill it, or just go with the flow. I find using a sketchbook that way to be a little less daunting and the different types of pages make it feel a little less precious to start with. Here is Sketchy Notions’ instagram account: (She also travels and sketches and even leads workshops in Italy every summer! What a dream.) Okay, have fun!

    1. Thank you for referring me to her feed! What a lovely little gem. There is so much inspiration there and I can’t wait to comb through it a little more.

  34. For future purchases of linen clothing, check out CP Shades.
    Enjoy a “big fun” adventure.

  35. Just returned from Lucca and it’s absolutely amazing! Such a beautiful town. Make time to rent bikes and ride around the city on the mid-evil wall! Just a note it was blazing hot and 95° every day. Cools down just a bit at night , but very hot. If you’re able to get away take the train to Cinque Terre for the day absolutely gorgeous and inspirational for painting! I so loved Lucca and there so much to do ( and eat) all around – enjoy🇭🇺

    1. Oh, I bet that was wonderful! We’ll actually be in Barga, and it looks like it’s a little cooler there (mid 70’s this week). Hopefully we’ll have nice weather. We will have a pool, though!

  36. Such an exciting trip! One way to lighten your cases is to buy art supplies when you get over there. I house-sat in France for 2 weeks and bought watercolors and paper with no trouble, just so i could paint pix of the house and neighborhood where I stayed.

    Your style is not my style, but your clothes choices really are YOU! You will wow them. Since you are painting in Italy, do you not have an outfit for that? Or are you one of those unbearable people who never spatter paint? LOL

    You and mom have a great trip!

    1. I will bring an apron for painting! 🙂 Oh, and I will be buying some art supplies in France. I’m hoping to visit Sennelier and also find some antique dip pens.

  37. You should REALLY try Teiks flats for your trip and always. They are not cheap, but even with my messed up feet, they are the most comfortable shoes Ever. They are great for walking all day and look nice for a night out as well.

  38. You can never, ever go wrong with Keens! They are all I wore in Europe last year! Have a fabulous time!

  39. I have recently returned from Denmark and Sweden, and the heat/humidity was excruciating. I always pack a hand-held, rechargeable fan and face wipes; they help. I travel a lot, and, I, too, always wear dresses and leggings. They are so comfortable, and, as you said, you don’t stand out so much as a tourist. Everyone has favorite shoes and clothes. Mine are: Arcopedico in the vegan line (they never hurt my feet); for clothes, I love the mixy, matchy, loose fit of Gudrun Sjoden. Have a wonderful trip!

    1. Oh man, I hope it’s a little cooler when we’re there! The forecast for this week doesn’t look too bad. The nice thing about linen is that it’s breathable and I have two that are lighter-weight (and one that’s sleeveless) to wear if it’s really hot.

  40. Well here’s my two cents worth….How about Birkenstock sandals? If your feet are hot, the rest of you is hot. I’m in my Birki’s the moment it goes above 60 degrees.

    Have a great trip!! You are envied by many, but love you anyway!! LOL

    1. I actually have a pair of Birkenstocks and I do like them, but I find they have a time/distance limit for me and then they start wearing a blister. I think I just need to break them in more. They are still pretty stiff!

  41. Keens ~ Keens ~ Keens!!!!! LOVE them….best shoes ever!!! I wear them all the time and have been for the last 20 years!!!!

  42. I have multiple pairs of Keens in various styles and they are fabulous! I don’t care that they aren’t sleek and pointy toed. They are comfortable, have great arch support and cushioning, which works for my arthritic feet. They last for years, too, so the value is definitely there. I started replacing my cheap-ish socks with smartwool socks last year. Definitely a great product as well. If your feet get wet you don’t get cold, although that isn’t a consideration for a summer trip in Europe with their heatwave. They are comfortable and they breathe. The no odor part is also great, but I traveled with them, washed them in the sink and hung on the towel rod to dry overnight. Wool dries quickly. I used a wonderful product called Soak to wash them, and it comes in travel packs, so very convenient. Have a great trip!

  43. Doubt you’ll see this, Marian, but Keen “Rose” is a great shoe that serves me well when we go to Switzerland, Austria, Germany and France. Can even slip a lightweight sock on with them if necessary.
    Have great, creative travels..can’t wait to see your posts. Cheers to your Mom.

  44. Oh, forgot to say that I have that exact coat from Costco. Saw a woman with it on standing in line to board flight in Amsterdam…complimented her on the coat and she told me where she got it. I love it..!!

  45. I will be in Paris and Provence Sept. 11th. Hope to see you there. I am taking Tieks. They fold up into a large deck of cards. All leather for comfort. mL

  46. I think some of your clothing may be a bit warm if you are traveling Europe in September. I would also advise bringing scarves; you will see more scarves in a day in France than you do in a year in the USA. We took a 14 day trip in Slovenia and Croatia in May and just took carry-on luggage; I had a pair of sandals and a pair of walking shoes and that was enough, given the huge temperature variations. We will all be looking forward to your adventures!

    1. Yeah, I’ve heard it’s been hotter than usual there. The actual town we’ll be in most, Barga, has been in the mid-70’s/low-80’s, so hopefully it’ll be nice when we’re there. The linen is lightweight on all but one of these dresses and I might leave all but one petticoat at home if it looks like it’s going to be too hot for them. I also have a sleeveless dress and a white/light blue one I can wear on warmer days.

      Man, I wish I could just bring a carry-on, but I have to take my computer and camera bag as my carry-on, so I need to bring a checked bag.

  47. We all have such different stories! I spent a few weeks in Italy in Sept..and was’s so hot! Well when we got there it was cold.So you never know..and in the sun I needed a jacket.
    I have only been to Paris in June..worst June ever.Flooding..rain..and cold.1 day of sun .Robbed and frauded:(
    Even..Rick Steeves was pickpocketd recently.
    Black leggings..
    Provence..I pack what you do..LINEN.. Provence is so different than Paris.
    In Paris I wear black lol..
    In Provence I arrive in a bit of black..but then only wear it when it rains and is cooler..We only had 4 days last Sept.I pack a thin Cole Haan black raincoat.
    I wear Keen’s shoes..and a pair of Converse.
    I love boots..but doesn’t work in Sept.In Paris it can.
    And yes to scarves..Paris..Italy and Provence..scarves abound.
    I love buying art supplies in France.
    Sennelier in Paris..
    Other cities in Provence have many Papeteries..Presse.. stores and they carry lovely products.
    Not sure I would bring books.
    I would bring color dot cards..You can make some.
    Have a ball! So great your mom will be w/ you:)

    Just my little 5 cents;)

    1. Great 5 cents, thanks! I agree that I’m bringing the coat no matter what. At the very least, I might need it on the airplane as an extra blanket or pillow. It’s also lightweight and waterproof in case of rain. I’m also brining a small umbrella. When we went to China, everyone told us how cold it would be on the Great Wall in March and it was roasting. In the southern province, though, it was cold! I had to double up layers and wear my warm coat (which I brought for the Great Wall) on a few days. Always good to be prepared.

      Sorry about your experience in Paris. I’ve been warned about pick-pockets and I’m (hopefully) prepared! I spent a summer in Russia when I was a teenager and the bands of gypsies on the streets, trains and busses were so aggressive. I got into tug-of-war over my bag with one of them! It had my passport, visa, and cash, so I learned a good lesson from that.

      Yes, I hope to go to Sennelier and get some art supplies there and, hopefully, find some vintage art supplies at the flea market.

  48. I love your dresses & would like to know where you got them. They’re definitely my style! And I’m checking out the shoes too. It’s really hard to find shoes that are comfortable. I love your blog & all the wonderful things I’m learning. I too was a military wife – AF 22 yrs. And AF Mom to my son for 20 yrs. I wish I had all your wonderful insight when I was decorating base houses! Have a wonderful trip.

  49. I love your style! I live in SW Fl and linen dresses are my favorite in the heat. And It’s a 10 is my favorite hair product, as well!

  50. I have found that Keens are the best shoe for comfort and support. I mainly wear variations of their sandals. The ones made to go in the water and absolutely awesome, comfort-wise, and nothing damages them! You throw them in the wash, let them dry, and they last for MANY years. Great for wider feet or feet with a wide toe-box, feet with high arches–almost anyone. I sound like an advertisement for them, but they have saved my feet.

  51. I travel with a carry on. If an article of clothing can’t be worn 3 times, it stays home. I bring 2 pairs of shoes and a rain jacket that folds into it’s own pocket. Lucca is one of my favorite Italian cities. I bought a lovey oval bicycle basket in Lucca as, it fit in my suitcase. It’s the same one everyone seems to have in Lucca. Get some insoles for your shoes so you can tolerate cobblestone streets. If you can arrange it, you should make a day trip from Paris to Giverny to see Claude Monet’s home. Walking the property, you will feel like you are walking through his paintings. What better place for an artist and the gardens beautiful.

    1. Great tips, thank you! I think after reading this and some other comments, I’m going to thin things down even more. I always get nervous about under-packing, but I can always buy something if I really need it!

      Unfortunately, we’ll only be in Paris for three days, so we won’t be taking any day trips. There’s already an overwhelming amount to fit in, in that small time. I am already hoping to go back for a longer trip, though!!

  52. Everyone has already said just about everything, Miss Marian! However, I must let you know how captivating your post is!! You really drew me in and I felt like I was going with you! Thank you for that gift! Unfortunately, my health is not real good and I could never take a trip like this but I sure did enjoy the last 10 minutes getting ready to go to France and Italy with you and your Sweet Mom!

    I’m fascinated with your lovely clothing and your new shoes are the best! Great choices! Great job with your Costco Raincoat and you’re absolutely right…You will definitely need it on the plane!

    Your journaling will be such a wonderful gift for you to give to yourself! I look back at mine of my delightful trip to London and my writings and drawings really perk me up and put a lost smile on my face.

    Have fun, be safe and God Bless You! Lucy

  53. Thanks for the chance to travel through your posts! I’ve been lucky enough to visit Europe several times in the last few years. I just bought the same jacket at Costco for the same reasons you did! I will have to check out those Keens. I usually take Danskos or Eccos when I travel.
    If you’re still looking for some travel toiletries, you might try Lush. They have great solid shampoo and conditioner. If you’re doing carryon only it doesn’t have to go in your 3-1-1 bag and fits in a medium size GoTubb perfectly.
    Monet’s Waterlilies at the Musee de l’Orangerie is a must–we were disappointed it was closed the exact time we were there 3 years ago, guess I need to go again.
    Looking forward to your posts, have a fabulous time.

  54. I read somewhere always take a large scarf when flying , passes for a pillow, blanket, etc.
    thanks for the tips I’m packing for Colorado and painting of the aspens

  55. As two other posters said, check out Tieks. They are incredibly comfortable and with their split sole, they fold in half for packing. Have a great trip!

  56. Will check out Tieks and Keens for sure but here is my two cents on the the Rothys… was alot for me to spend and NOT WORTH IT, they are really lightweight plastic feeling shoes. They were super for short wears, just for a night out or whatever……not really good for long walks. I was very upset as I had heard alot of good things about them. I am forever searching for good black flats, at this point its more about comfort than looks. Lands End and LL Bean shoes are good for me, the Lands End Gatas are nice. Supergas-what Kate Middleton wears-just a plain white sneaker, needed no breaking in at all. I just returned from Ireland so did some shoe shopping. Very enlightening to say the least. I have to mention, years ago I went to Rome, tons of walking on cobblestone…..Sketchers worked believe it or not. But that brand is hit or miss, some types seem to be better made than others. I wore white Mary Janes that had some lace-look to it so looked good and not like a very plain sneaker. Had ZERO issues. But as I say, I do buy that brand often and most of the time, the shoe won’t last long, falls apart. That style must be made better or something, they last longer and felt great. I WOULD TO HEAR MORE ABOUT SHOES FOR WALKING AND TRAVEL

  57. Now wouldn’t I just love to come and meet you in Lucca…! Lucca is so lovely. I live in the south, in Sorrento, but my son works in Pisa, and lives at Villa Lena in Palaia (you would love that place, is just wonderful, would be perfect for your workshops too , I bet you could do great things there) . Enjoy Paris as well!

  58. Hi Marian I’m sure this will be a great trip. If while in Paris you plan to go to the Musee D’Orsay and don’t have a lot of time and want to see the best of the French Impressionist works start on floor 5 and then you will see the best first.
    The Louvre …go straight to the Mona Lisa room first before it gets busy . For travel around town quickly get a hop on pass .
    Buy pashmina scarves there to wear as shawls or scarves either in France or Italy.
    If you don’t have time to paint or sketch in your notebook en Plein air ..take photos and sketch from those when you have time or as inspirational paintings at home.
    Have Fun and eat the pasta and chocolate wherever …I never gain a pound as walking uses up all the calories!

  59. Happy travels!!! I went to Europe for 2 weeks and only took a carry on bag. It was great and we went to 3 countries ,would go with even less next time. Shoes are critical. There is no way to be super cute and stylish while touring and walking all day its really more like doing a sport!!

  60. Forgot to say I have all Sara Middas’ books and love them..and I have that Cathy Johnson book and love it.
    Lush shampoos in a bar are great.
    Could you name the paints you are bringing..?:)Thank you..know you are busy..

  61. Looks like a great trip coming to you and your mum soon 👍 can I make a suggestion ? As I live in Belgium at only a two hour drive from Paris I stongly recommend you to bring a warm sweater, trousers and a scarf because Paris in september can be realy chilly. I am talking about 8 or 12°C. I do hope for you it will be warmer but fall can be really tricky here. Enjoy everything over here in Europe and a safe journey, looking forward to your posts already.

    1. Thank you so much, Miep! I will take that advice and have a few extra things in case it’s cool.

  62. If these linen dresses are not the height of fashion (they look just like my Pinterest board), then may I forever be out of style! You will look fabulous and be comfortable. I have so enjoyed this post, I love your style, and I am happy for you, Marian.

  63. Just left Paris after three weeks of extremely hot weather. If you are wearing your linen dresses you will need to wear short leggings under as perspiration can cause killer rashes .
    It continues hot in the Nivernais Canal onboard our boat after leaving Auxerre. Are you packing an iron or do you wear your linens au-natural? Four pairs of shoes sounds excessive. Pack less and make room for the wonderful treasures you may find.
    Scarves in Paris! Shoes and notebooks in Italy. Have fun …. so nice your Mother will be with you.
    Regards Janine

    1. The 10 days forecast for Paris is showing a high as 82, so hopefully that will carry on while we’re there! Good advice on the leggings, though. Thanks! I did set aside a couple of light scarves after all of these comments!

  64. We spent 17 days in Europe in July. I know you are packing extras items for the workshop but you can pack everything you need in carry-on suitcasses and tote bag or backpack. My teen girls and I did. And we didn’t wear everything. It was great! I took 2 pair of walking shoes, Sperrys and Ultra Boost, a athletic shoes the guy in Champs recommend for walking. They were both great. I wore mostly light summer weight sleeveless dresses except for the Vatican because I wanted to make sure I was within the dress code. Have fun!!

    1. I do have to bring my camera/computer bag, so my gear and lenses are padded properly, so I can’t bring just a carryon. I have a mid-sized suitcase, though, and can manage my bags on my own. After all of the comments suggesting it, I am going to pack even lighter, leaving a few more things are home.

  65. Do you recommend these books for a beginner? Just beginning to experiment with sketching? Any suggestions would be welcomed. Enjoy your trip!

  66. Like you I’ve been reading about the weather…I do think that sometimes, in the fall, the mornings and evenings can have a little bit of coolness. When I travel, I always always bring a very light weight Pashmina (literally fits into my handbag). Might consider this as it will fit anywhere for the moments! 🙂 . Your trip sounds wonderful. Just ready yesterday post, LOVE that backpack!! I’ve been searching for something not too big, not too small, and not too “I’m a professional hiker” look. Yours looks perfect!!! Can’t wait to watch your journey. Enjoy every moment, especially those moments with your mom, those are so priceless!

  67. I’m in England and you wouldn’t need that coat here, this year. The Paris forecast for next week is the low 20’s, in your old money that’s 70F ish. Maybe a cardie and a nice lightweight scarf in the evenings, but not much more. As some others have said, just a couple of pairs of shoes will be more than enough.

    Anyway, it’s none of my business what you choose to wear, it’s all lovely. Your dresses are fab, I love your style, keep to it.

    Have the biggest fun and enjoy…xx

  68. SO SO SO SO GLAD i read this post about KEENS I got mine on sale at LL Bean and I am telling everyone about them, they are the best ever. I have a bunion on my right big toe. These shoes are flexible and I wear no socks with them and they are FAB!!!! Tell the world!

  69. Nice packing list!
    Can you please tell me the color name of the fabric for the LinenBees’ tunic dresses? I have been looking for dresses in these colors, but the shop has so many variations of blues!

  70. I ordered those a long time ago. I believe it is the navy and the dark gray. They are familiar with me, so you can ask Linen Bee and they will help you out!

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