3 shoes to pack on any trip to Europe

3 SHOES TO PACK FOR ANY TRIP TO EUROPE

Happy Thursday! I’m up bright + early to catch a flight down to south Florida for the week to visit family. As I started packing for this brief getaway, it dawned on me how strategic and selective I’ve become when it comes to deciding what shoes to bring along on a trip. And rightfully so!  These babies are easily some of the heaviest items we pack (and usually the largest contributor to overweight baggage fees). So how do you narrow it down?

For starters, it obviously depends on the destination (a week in the mountains is going to look vastly different than one at the beach). But I’ve learned from my travels that even if you’re visiting a variety of climates and countries, there are some fail-safe options you’ll likely want to bring along anywhere. 

If you’re new around here, I spent 7 months out of this last year living out of a suitcase and traveling through Europe- so I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to functional footwear abroad. So if you’re planning to hop across the pond anytime soon, allow me to spare you some blisters + unnecessary luggage weight. 

I averaged 5 miles of walking every single day (often closer to 7 and sometimes up to 12!) so heels just really don’t make sense while you’re in Europe. I know they can make an outfit pop or your legs look great, but take my word on this bit. I assure you that you can still look chic in just about any outfit (and sans the pain) with only 3 simple pairs of flats. Still not convinced? Let’s get specific. 

 

1. A SMART LOAFER

smart loafers

Headed to the theatre? A nice dinner? Drinks with a European hottie? Any activity where a heel would serve you something a bit more dressy than usual, I believe a smart loafer will also do the trick. You can be chic + classic with a black pair like these or a touch on the wild side with a print like these. Depending on the particular pair, I think they pair well with a tailored pair of slacks, jeans or even a dress. 

 

2. ATHLETIC/LIFESTYLE SHOES

athletic lifestyle shoes

Not all athletic footwear is created equal. In fact, I’d argue that this trend has expanded far beyond athleisure. I love the juxtaposition of mixing my Superstars with something a bit more formal or feminine (like this blush blazer + scarf I wore in Amsterdam). Not only can it make an outfit more interesting, but your feet will love you on those days when you’re logging double-digit miles. 

 

 

3. SEASONAL FLAT

Obviously time of year and climate are factors to consider, so let’s talk seasonal flats. 

 

FALL/WINTER: BOOTS

If you’re traveling in Europe in cooler temperatures, I’d advise a pair of ankle boots (they don’t weigh as much and aren’t as bulky as ones that cover your calves). Think about the clothes you’re packing to determine if it makes more sense to bring tan, black or grey

 

FALL/SPRING: BALLET FLAT

ballet flats to pack for europe

Ballet flats can honestly be worn anytime of the year and are one of the most comfortable shoes on the market! Wear them with dresses, pants, shorts- you name it. Similar to my remark about boots, consider if the outfits you’re packing will pair better with tan, black or a pop of color. 

 

 

SPRING/ SUMMER: SANDAL

My criss-cross sandals were worn more than any other shoe I brought on this most recent trip to Europe! With temperatures at their all-time-high for the year, I didn’t want socks anywhere near my feet! Opt for sandals that are comfortable enough to walk in and that are versatile (so you can wear the same pair to the beach or with a dress to dinner). 

sandals to wear in europe

So there you have it! I survived my 7 months in Europe with minimal pairs of shoes and am confident you can do the same. Are there other types of shoes you’d never leave out of your suitcase? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Thanks so much for stopping by friends! Stay tuned next week for some more travel guides from recent adventures!

 

xx

Whitney

Étretat France

etretat france

Hey friends. Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a great weekend. 

When I was in Europe a few weeks ago, I got to meet up with my friend Caitlin a few different times over the course of my trip. She lives in Berlin so we don’t get to see each other as often as I’d like, but I can always guarantee it will be an amazing adventure whenever the two of us travel lovers get together! To bookmark the end of an incredible journey, she joined me for road-trip through some of the most beautiful bits of north-western France. Our first stop? Étretat. 

etretat france

Before I dive into this destination, let me caveat by saying my goal for this road-trip that Caitlin and I embarked. There are tons beautiful destinations near Paris to visit, and we wanted to showcase them. Don’t get me wrong- Paris is an incredible city (one of my very favorite in the world). But I’ve learned that smaller, more remote destinations offer such a unique + special experience that I believe is really valuable for travelers. So when you find yourself booking tips to the “heavy hitter” cities, my hope is that you’ll find a day or two to venture out to some other, less “popular” destinations. 

Étretat was made famous when impressionist painters like Monet captured the seaside landscape on canvas. Today, its three natural arches and white chalk cliffs that soar high above the sea attract visitors from all over the world. It wasn’t until one rainy afternoon in Berlin when we started scheming up this trip that I even knew Étretat existed (I think one of us found a photo of the arches on Pinterest) but it didn’t take long for us to commit to visiting this breathtaking coastal town. 

etretat france

 

Étretat is a popular day-trip destination for tourists visiting the D-day beaches, thus your average visitor won’t spend much time here (we stayed for one night). The town itself is quite small, though offering plenty of shops and restaurants to choose from no matter the length of your stay. But it goes without saying the real showstopper of any visit here is the natural landscape. One of our favorite parts of this trip was hiking to Falaise d'Etretat (a giant archway lurking over the sea and Chemin des Douaniers) and taking in the breathtaking scenery. 

etretat france

We stayed at Domain Saint Clair: an idyllic Anglo-Norman style castle from the nineteenth century that’s nestled in a picturesque park overlooking the cliffs and the sea. While we only stayed in Étretat for one night, Domain Saint Clair showed me I could easily spend a week retreating, relaxing and embracing the French “art of living” where people know how to take their time. It’s an ideal place to relax, read, have a drink, play a game of cards or just listen to the crackling fire in the hearth on winter days. Overall, this place offers a tranquil energy that feels like you’re in a novel and seems to soothe the soul. 

domaine st clair etretat france
domain st clair etretat france
domaine st clair etretat france
domaine st clair etretat france
domaine st clair etretat france
domaine st clair etretat france

We loved the beautiful design of the rooms, the incredible food served at the restaurant, the hospitable staff that made our stay unforgettable and most importantly, the stunning views. 

etretat france

No matter how long you plan on staying in Étretat, Domain Saint Clair is a fantastic place to stay that I can't recommend enough! Do yourself a favor and book your stay here

 

 

etretat france
etretat france

Overall, Étretat is one of those locations where you simply feel like you're in another world and I highly recommend that you pay a visit yourself. As I said before, we drove here from Paris (only 2.5 hours by car) so it's very easy to do. Just be sure to plan ahead for tolls, because they are expensive in France (we spent ~€40 just from Paris to Étretat).  

 

etretat france
etretat france

Want to know some other destinations you should add to this road trip? Stay tuned, because Caitlin and I hit 2 more beautiful spots that I'll be recapping soon! 

Thanks so much for stopping by, and feel free to ask any questions about Étretat in the comments below!
 

xx

Whitney

Provence Travel Guide

PROVENCE TRAVEL GUIDE

Happy Wednesday, friends! Last month in Europe, I spent two weeks road-tripping through France with my friend Marcia. She had never been to Europe before, which is secretly so fun for me (I equate the reaction to taking a kid to Disneyland and watching them stare at everything in great wonder). We started in Toulouse + Montpellier (which I'll share more about in a future post) and then slowly worked our way through Provence. 

Provence is arguably one of the most beautiful regions in France (which is probably why Rénoir, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso and other great impressionist artists frequented the area to inspire their work). Whether you're nestled in the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail, by the sparkling waters of Côte d'Azur or discovering endless fields of lavender or sunflowers, Provence is a stunning variety of landscapes. 

There's so much to do here that you could easily spend months in the area and never get bored. So from the moment I planned my trip, I began researching the "must-see" stops to hit in a limited amount of time. While I obviously couldn't see everything, after scouring my favorite travel publications and fellow travelers for the best destinations, I prioritized seeing these villages in our few short days. 


But before I dive into those, let me first suggest renting a car. Lots of these quaint villages are super remote and I'm not quite sure how you'd get to them otherwise to be honest. It may seem intimidating to drive in a foreign country, but I assure you that if I can do it, so can you! Just be sure to always have plenty of Euros handy because the tolls in France are a pretty penny (I'd guess we spent ~€120 driving from Toulouse to Paris over the course of the week). Now... onto the top villages to see in Provence: 

 

VALENSOLE

Seeing the lavender fields in all their glory was the highest "to-do" on my list whilst in Provence. Generally speaking, fields are in bloom from June to August, so you have to be be rather strategic while planning to avoid missing them. Since my trip to Europe started with a one-way ticket, I didn't originally know that I'd be in Provence this time of year. Once my plans came to fruition, I began searching high and low for any traces of lavender in bloom (we went in mid-June, which can often be too early depending on the year). 

 

We were pointed to Valensole, where lavender covered the grounds as far as the eye can see. 

valensole lavendar fields provence france
valensole lavendar fields provence france
valensole lavender fields provence france

While the lavender fields are obviously the main draw, it's certainly worth going into the town. It doesn't take long to see (it's tiny!) but it couldn't be more charming + picturesque. Be sure to stop at the Patisserie behind me (Le Palais D'Or) for a delicious lavender eclair! 

valesole france provence

 

 

 

SAINT-RÉMY-DE-PROVENCE

saint remy de provence
saint remy de provence
saint remy de provence

 

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence was hands town my favorite town we visited (full disclosure: I didn't snap as many photos as I would have liked because I was too busy taking it all in myself!) I loved it because it was small enough to maintain its charm but large enough to stay interesting and have plenty to do. This quaint village is home to where Van Gogh painted Starry Night and is built on one of the oldest archeological sites in Europe. We spent our time getting lost in the streets + shopping for Provencal goods. I bought a beautiful woven basket from a vendor on the street, and then tons of delicious food (tapenade, wine, cheese etc.) from the store pictured below. 

saint remy de provence

We wished we had more time to explore all the culinary options, but only got to enjoy one dinner there. Should you find yourself with more time, some great options include: 

LE BISTROT DES ALPILLES

À LA TABLE DE NICOLAS

FRATELLI

 

 

HOTEL LE VALLON DE VALRUGES

hotel le vallon de valruges saint remy de provence

We loved staying at Le Vallon de Valrugues: a 5-star hotel in the historical district and only 600 meters from the town centre. 

They offer a full-service spa, an upscale gastronomic restaurant where you can dine for any meal (we had breakfast there and it was one of the most impressive buffets I've ever seen!) and my favorite part of the property was hands down the beautiful outdoor pool. 

Hotel Le Vallon de Valruges and Spa

We spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool with a glass of champagne, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Staying here was the perfect blend of convenience to the town and a tranquil oasis to retreat to. I definitely recommend it when you come to the area!

Hotel Le vallom de valruges and spa  saint remy de provence

 

 

HÔTEL B DESIGN & SPA

Just outside of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a little town known as Paradou where you'll find Hôtel B Design & Spa. Set in the heart of the Alpilles, the landscape of this area couldn't be more beautiful. We retreated to this property for 24 hours of pure, Provencal bliss. 

hotel b design provence france luberon

We started with lavender massages at their spa- which was a state of the art facility. I loved sitting in their relaxation lounge before and after the treatment- it was one of the most beautiful rooms I've been to at any spa!

hotel b design spa
hotel b design and spa provence france

After our treatments, we went back to our (GORGEOUS) room. Every single detail was intentional and well-thought-out (my favorite bit was the luxuriously plush bed).  No photos that I have even do it close to justice, but I couldn't have been more impressed. After changing and enjoying some time in our room, we went to the pool to enjoy yet another fantastic facility of this property. 

hotel b design provence france

After relaxing all day, we went to the main portion of the property to have dinner at the restaurant (which was one of the most magical nights). We dined al fresco amongst candle light and the cyprus trees while watching the sunset. Top it all off with the fact that the food served was comprised of the highest-quality, most delicious Provencal ingredients (we even went back to the kitchen to see them making everything from scratch). 

While my Hôtel B Design experience was of course wonderful because of how high-quality every tiny detail was, what really made it so unforgettable to me was the staff. This family-owned and operated property welcomes you in and makes you feel like you're one of them (we may have started calling them Mom and Dad). They went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we needed, and then went even further to greatly surpass any expectations.  All in all, I truly can't say enough wonderful things about Hôtel B Design & Spa + highly recommend that you stay here while visiting Provence. 

 

 

AIX-EN-PROVENCE

aix en provence france

Arguably the most well known town in the region, Aix-en-Provence is famous for its outdoor markets, café lined avenues and its established art + culinary scene. It's also the birthplace of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne (you can visit his former studio here). But aside from that, I would argue that Aix-en-Provence isn't someplace that's brimming with sights you have to see. Instead, it's a town to simply get lost in: admire the gorgeous architecture or browse through Provencal finds at the markets that line the street. Whatever you fill your time with, you're bound to fall in love with this charming town. 

Also worth noting: Aix-en-Provence is a University town so this area has a much more youthful energy than some of the tiny surrounding towns. So if you're wanting just a littleee taste of a city vibe to liven up your tranquil journey through this region, this is the spot to get your fix. 

aix en provence france

Looking for a place to eat? Check out these favorites in the area: 

LE POIVRE D'ANE

LA TABLE DES DELICES DE SEBASTIEN

LE JARDIN D'AMALULA

aix en provence france

 

 

MÉNERBES

menerbes luberon provence france

Ahh, Ménerbes. You charmed my socks off. This walled village on a hilltop in the Luberon mountains is tiny and won't take too long to see, but nevertheless, I can't recommend it enough. Even just walking through it for an hour allows you to feel like you've transformed to the quiet Provencal town Belle speaks of in Beauty & the Beast where everyday is like the one before. Aromas from the local boulangerie fill the streets as locals pop in to gather their baguette for the day (while I don't think you'll have trouble finding it, the name is "Boulangerie Pâtisserie Epicerie Roche & Fils.") It couldn't have been even a sliver more charming. If you are interested in sticking around for a bit, this is a good resource with some more information on what to see + do. 

 

menerbes france provence luberon
Photo c/o Gal Meets Glam

Photo c/o Gal Meets Glam

Photo c/o Gal Meets Glam

Photo c/o Gal Meets Glam

 

 

GORDES

gordes france

For our last stop in Provence, we went to Gordes: a beautiful + historic village that's perched on the edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse. Unlike so much of the colorful architecture in these tiny villages, Gordes is predominantly comprised of neutral colored stone resembling castles. But even without buildings that adorn cute colors, this village has been known as one of the most beautiful in France and it's not hard to see why. Go for a stroll around the town (seemingly a bit bigger than Valensole or Ménerbes but much smaller than Saint-Remy-de-Provence or Aix-en-Provence) and be sure to take in the sweeping panoramic views. 

Gordes France
gordes france

SHOP THE POST HERE:

There is so much more that I could speak to and even more that I didn't get to see this trip (which means I'll just have to go back!) Have you been to any other villages worth visiting in Provence? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading (as always!) and I'll be sharing more adventures with you soon. 

xx

Whitney

CHARMING VILLAGES IN PROVENCE FRANCE