Susan Heinrich sits at a cafe table in Paris. She is wearing a tan trench coat, jeans and black loafers. She has a small black bag accross her. She has a croissant on a table in front of her.

Shoes for Paris Travel

TRAVEL STYLE

The best way to see Paris is on foot so comfort is essential

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When planning a trip to Paris, selecting comfortable shoes is as important to the experience as choosing among the city’s culinary delights and exceptional museums. Paris is a large city but central Paris, where most monuments are located, is quite compact and the best way to explore is on foot.

If it’s your first trip to Paris, you may be surprised by how much of the city you can see by walking from one destination to the next —  you’ll enjoy the spectacular architecture and likely happen upon some unexpected gems; part of the charm of Paris is discovering a charming little square or cobblestone laneway filled with flower shops. 

One of my favorite French words is “flaneur”, which means to wander without a particular destination. Make sure to leave time in your itinerary to just wander through Paris, in your comfortable shoes. 

Susan Heinrich stands in front of a large blue door on cobblestones in the Marais area of Paris. She is wearing a black blazer, jeans and blue ballet flats with a bow.
Susan in Le Marais area of Paris in fall, wearing comfy ballet flats by Vivaia

How Many Shoes to Pack for Paris

I typically pack three pairs of shoes for a trip to Paris. I want two pairs that I know I can walk in all day. Even with your most comfortable shoes, there is a chance of blisters, so you want an extra pair to alternate. In fall or winter, one of those would likely be a waterproof boot or bootie. (More on that below)

My third pair are typically something to wear in the evening. Depending on the season, this might be a dressier sandal, a wedge heel or a nicer boot.  I know some people get by with two pairs or shoes, but looking chic in Paris is part of the fun for me, so I like to pack three. Don’t forget you might also want to buy a pair of Paris shoes — a special memento from your trip. 

Note that Paris is not the place to break in a new pair of shoes. Make sure any shoes you pack are already very comfy and ready for a full day of walking. (Even then, I suggest you bring bandages and blister treatment, such as moleskin.) 

Shoes for Paris in Every Season

Paris Shoes for Fall

A woman's feet pictured in black French-style loafers on a tiled floor with the words: Monoprix Champs Élysées in decorative tile. Visible are her legs with blue denim and a beige trench coat. She is in Paris.
In my Monoprix loafers

Loafers

In my experience, a comfy loafer is a shoe that will never disappoint you on a trip to Paris. This is a classic style that works with almost every outfit and can be worn through much of the year. I prefer a classic style without trendy embellishments because they will look chic 5, 10, or 20 years from now. 

I have a classic black horse-bit loafer from Monoprix, the Paris department store which I bought for under $100. Sam Edelman makes a similar pair, the Loraine, which comes in many colors and is widely available. Of course, there’s the stunning and pricey Gucci classic. After several years of consideration (and saving) I  splurged on these  a few months ago. These are the most expensive shoes I have ever purchased and they are worth every penny. The craftsmanship is remarkable and the leather is buttery soft. I walked around Paris all day in them  — me and my feet were on cloud nine.  (I am wearing them in the main photo at the top of this story.)

I also like the brand Cole Haan for stylish, affordable comfort, and own several pairs of their shoes which have traveled with me to Paris. If you like a penny loafer style I like their Lux Pinch Penny LoaferAnother brand that is supposed to be very comfy is the Birdie’s Vesper. I don’t own Birdie’s but reviews are very good. I love the chic simplicity and they are well-priced. 

If you happen to be shopping for loafers in Paris, the French brand Bobbies has a gorgeous style called the Jill. They come in several colors, I love the tan. 

Roses and greenery and a woman's lower legs in cropped jeans and a pair of pink and black French ballet flats by Cole Haan.
Ballet flats with arch support are great for Paris

Ballet Flats

I like that ballet flats work with many outfits and can be dressy enough for the evening. I love them for early fall, as well as spring and summer. The fact that they are lightweight is a bonus.

For comfort, look for a ballet flat with some arch support. My current favorite ballet flats are from Vivaia; I am wearing a pair above in front of the blue door in the Paris Marais. I wore them all over Paris during my latest trip and they were very comfortable. I also like Cole Haan flats (immediately above). Rothy’s afre another option. I have a black pair but there are many options — the Square is cute in color Tuxedo. FYI, I’ve found that Rothy’s and Vivaia run small, so if you haven’t ordered from them before and aren’t sure, size up half a size. 

The Demi by Margaux New York. is another option, and quite well-priced, given they are hand-made of Italian leather at their factory in Spain. The reviews are great — 5 stars on 805 reviews!

I had a chance to try them on when I visited their boutique on Bleecker Street in New York. I loved them but didn’t need shoes at that time. Note: they’ve since closed that location and intend to open another soon. In the meantime, all Margaux New York shoes are available to order online

Susan Heinrich sits on the patio at Les Deux Magots in Paris. She is wearing sunglasses, light trousers, a striped button up shirt and sneakers.
Susan at Les Deux Magots in Paris wearing Allbirds Wool Runners

Sneakers for Paris

Sneakers have become fashionable, so you don’t have to sacrifice comfort when choosing shoes for Paris. I bring a pair of sneakers on all of my Paris trips because I like to know I have something extremely comfortable in case I develop blisters.

I don’t think there’s a wrong way to go regarding sneakers for Paris. If you have a comfy pair you love, they are perfect. If you are in the market for a new pair, I suggest a light neutral for maximum outfit matching. In the photo above I am at the Les Deux Magots Café wearing the Allbirds Wool Runner in light grey. I also really like the Piper by Allbirds. They are very lightweight — ideal for travel. I also like the Lace Up Sneaker in Blonde, by Rothy’s. I own several pairs of Rothy’s and have been happy with them. I typically size up half a size. 

 

Susan Heinrich wears blue jeans and a blue blazer and scarf at the Puces antique market in Paris.
Sneakers are ideal for walking around the Paris Puces Flea Market; the largest in the world

For French sneakers, the brand Veja is very popular and I have walked all over Paris in them. You’ll see the “V” on the side of many chic-looking women in France. They are widely available in North America, including at Madewell. For a classic style consider the Campo or the Vesplar. I’ve found it’s easier to keep leather sneakers clean than canvas. You can also explore options online at Veja US. Veja is a Certified B Corporation.

A woman walks in Paris in the rain wearing black boots, a black coat and red scarf. She is holding a blue umbrella and smiling. Haussmann-style buildings are visible in the background.

Boots for Paris - Fall & Winter

Yes, it rains in Paris and it’s still beautiful. I suggest taking boots to Paris if you visit from October through March. And ideally, they should be waterproof or water-resistant. Paris does get some snow in winter months; January is the coldest and snowiest. I like a flat boot for exploring Paris, but a low heel or wedge could work too. I prefer a rubber sole for better traction on cobblestones.

I was very glad I packed waterproof boots for my September trip to Paris, last year. It poured rain on several days and we walked everywhere, despite the wet weather. I wore a pair by Aquatalia boots and my feet stayed warm and dry. Aquatalia are fantastic quality, and an investment, but you can find them for up to 70% off at Nordstrom Rack. This pair, The Ricarda Weatherproof  at Nordstrom are almost identical to mine. 

Two pairs of chelsea-style women's ankle boots are pictured. One in brown and one in black, They both have tan soles.
Nisolo's Eva Boot is Waterproof

Budget-friendly option: Blondo waterproof boots are another attractive, well-reviewed option. I like the Prestly Waterproof Leather Bootie. It comes in lots of nice colors. 

I recently polled women travelers on social media and these are other boots that they recommend for fall and winter in Paris: Toms Dakota Water Resistant Boots, Clarks Memi Lo Nubuck and Cole Haan Women’s Greenwich Bootie. 

Susan Heinrich stands on a Paris street in late summer with the Eiffel Tower beyond her. The street is lined by beautiful Haussmann-style buildings. She is wearing black shorts and a black tee and scarf and black platform sandals by Franco Sarto.

Shoes for Spring & Summer in Paris

Walking Sandals

Cute enough to pair with a dress, and comfy enough to wear all day — in summer, a comfortable sandal is your most important Paris shoe because with hotter weather, it’s likely what you’ll wear the most. 

I am wearing a Franco Sarto platform sandal (above in front of the Eiffel Tower) and recently purchased a similar pair in beige by Nisolo: the Go-To Flatform Sandal. I’ve worn them around Paris in warm weather and they were very comfortable. They have many color choices; I suggest you size up a half size as the fit is small. 

Susan Heinrich sits at a wooden café table in Cyprus, Europe on a cobblestone laneway. She is wearing a navy short-sleeved shirtdress and gold Birkenstock sandals and sunglasses. There is an iced coffee on the table as well as a small pot of lavender.
Birkenstock sandals are comfortable and chic, in a metallic such as gold

I also own several pairs of Cole Haan as mentioned. Their zero ground line is made for walking and recommended by the New York Times Wirecutter. Explore current styles here: Cole Haan Zeroground.

For Paris walking shoes, the brand GEOX is another great option. It’s an Italian company with stores in Europe and Canada and online in the U.S. They are well-made, have cute styles, and are tremendously comfortable. (FYI, a newsletter signup gives you 20% off your first pair). Explore current Geox Sandal styles. 

Fortunately for any of us who love the comfort of Birkenstocks, the “ugly duckling” of sandals is currently considered fashion-forward. And they now come in a rainbow of colors: white, gold, blue, and pink are all great shoes for summer in Paris. I took a gold pair (pictured above) on a recent trip to Europe and they were chic and comfy.

Mule style loafers, one in pink, one in tan

Loafer Mules

Loafer mules are a great summer alternative to traditional loafers. These could be comfy enough to wear all day, or might be the “third pair” of shoes I’d bring to Paris, when I wanted to dress up a little.  

Again, Gucci makes a classic pair, Princetown Leather Slipper, but there are lovely options that are similar for a fraction of the price. I bought this beige pair last year by BCBG Generation, the Zorie Mule, which I recommend. And Sam Edelman does a nice, affordable pair, the Linnie Mule, available at Nordstrom. 

Espadrilles for Paris

An espadrille is a lovely choice; it’s a summer shoe that never goes out of style in Europe. Although these originate in Spain, Parisians love their espadrilles and in summer, you’ll see them everywhere. The term espadrille comes from the Catalan word ‘espardenya’, a reference to esparto grass, the European plant traditionally used for making these classic shoes. 

Today, they are widely available and made of many different materials. I appreciate that they also come in varying heights because although I love a wedge heel, I prefer a low wedge. A few options manufactured by Spanish shoe companies and available online are the Reus Canvas Wedge by Barcelona-based Viscata and if you prefer a higher wedge, or a ribbon style strap, explore the options at Castaner, a heritage brand dating to 1927. 

Susan Heinrich sits in Paris Bouillon restaurant on a velvet banquette with a large mirror behind her and lights reflected. The floor is a traditional tile. She is wearing a black blazer, jeans, a blue button-up and block-heel shoes by Vivaia, cream with a black toe-cap.
Susan wearing a classic block heel at Bouillon Julien in Paris

Shoes for Evening in Paris

Wedge & Block Heel Shoes

If you have some nice dinners planned for your trip to Paris or just want to look extra chic after dark, you’ll want to consider taking one pair of shoes that are a little more elegant. I usually pack one pair for the evening; it’s a nice change from what I wear when I am exploring all day.  

Given this may still involve some walking, a block heel is a Parisian classic. Pictured above, I wore Vivaia’s Julie Chunky Heel to dinner at a charming historic restaurant in Paris, Bouillon Julien.

It comes in multiple colors: I chose the beige with a black toe cap, a nod to the Chanel classic. They are extremely comfortable; a special insole with cushioning and arch support makes them an elegant shoe you can walk in. I found them fine for a short walk to and from the Paris Metro and out to dinner. Highly recommend! (Size up half a size.)

For a similar slingback style, I love the Baton Heels by French Sole, available on the website Tuckernuck. I haven’t tried these on but they get rave reviews.

 

A pair of camel-colored Mary Jane style shoes being worn with a little of the person's wide-leg denim jeans visible.
Sézane's Paula Babies, a modern Mary Jane style, are perfect for Paris & my current shoe crush
(photo: Sézane)

Modern Mary Jane's

My current shoe crush is a modern Mary Jane like these flats from Cole Haan, and J. Crew, and the Paula Babies with a low block heel from Sézane.  They feel special enough for Paris and look equally great with a wide-leg jean and a dress. The right pair should be comfy enough for leisurely Parisian strolls, around the musée or to dinner. I tried on a Sézane pair in polished camel on my recent trip and found them very comfy. (I ended up buying a trench coat instead)

Susan Heinrich riding a scooter past the Eiffel Tower at night
Susan on a scooter in Paris in comfy Cole Haan wedge heels

Dress Sandals for Paris

It may be a little hard to see, but I wore these Cole Haan sandals with a low wedge on a June trip to Paris. They were the perfect addition to my Paris shoes because they were comfortable enough for walking, dressy for evening and practical enough to ride a scooter. (Wisely, scooters have since been banned in Paris). 

A few options for evening sandals for Paris: Reformation makes sustainable clothing and shoes. I own several pieces from them (not yet shoes) and have been very impressed with the quality. Their shoes are chic and perfect for a summer evening in Paris. I love the Millie Lattice Flat Sandal. It comes in seven colors, including gold, which is having a moment right now. It’s on my wishlist. Size up a half size.

A shelving display filled with a variety of shoes at Bobbies in Paris
A lovely array of shoes at Bobbies Paris

Shoe Shopping in Paris

Paris is known for its beautiful design and excellent quality. If you are in Paris and looking for shoes, here are some options:

I love Bobbies Paris (the Jill loafers were mentioned above) and there are several locations on the left and right banks of Paris. They are well-made, affordable and offer classic styles you’ll use for years. The sneakers and sandals are very cute, and they have great block-heel styles — trés practical for Paris cobblestone.

Jonak is another great affordable Paris shoe brand. I was admiring their fall styles on my recent trip to Paris.

Parisian shoe brand Repetto began by creating shoes for dancers, and their ballet flats remain their signature Paris shoe. They have broadened their collection to include loafers, pumps, oxfords, sandals and espadrilles, and other styles depending on the season. Repetto shoes are an investment but beautifully made. They have stores in Le Marais and in the 6th on rue du Four. They are also carried by several of Paris’s most elegant department stores: Le Bon Marché, La Samaritaine, and BHV. 

Sézane is mid-priced with lots of beautiful shoes, most under $300, including more classic styles: loafers, sneakers, boots, espadrilles, and flats, which they call ballerinas, as well as some more on-trend options such as clogs. I also have a guide to Shopping at Sézane Paris.

Colorful shoes, boots and belts on display in the Paris Sézane store, L'Appartement Sézane, in the second arrondissement.

Carel is another iconic Paris shoe brand that is also widely available outside France. Again, these are an investment, but the designs are gorgeous and trés French.  They have several boutiques in Paris and you’ll find them at Le Bon Marche as well as the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and Printemps Haussmann. 

Finally, for fun, or possibly a splurge, visit the Roger Vivier boutique on Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré, appointments required. Monsieur Vivier made shoes into works of art. He studied sculpture at the Paris School of Fine Arts before he became a shoe designer. He created shoes at Christian Dior from 1953 until 1963, and is credited with igniting a new interest in women’s stiletto heels.

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I hope these ideas for Paris shoes for your next trip have you dreaming of the many miles you’ll comfortably walk in the city of light. I’ve learned from my many trips to Paris that the right shoes are an important ingredient in a seamless trip.

Whether you are planning Paris travels, or shoe shopping in Paris, I wish you a marvelous trip

Susan Heinrich and two women friends sit at a table in a bistro in Paris. There is bread and some other food in the table.

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About - Midlife Globetrotter

Hey there,

I’m glad you’re here. Can we talk about midlife? I reached my late 40’s, realized my kids were growing up, and adventure began calling in a new way: big travel adventures as well as everyday ones. I want Midlife Globetrotter to be a place where we explore how to add a sense of fun, freedom and meaning to these precious years. Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, and all that’s ahead.

Susan

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