The best way to see Paris is on foot so comfort is essential
When planning a trip to Paris, selecting comfortable shoes is as important to the experience as 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.
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.)
My Current Favorite Shoes for Paris
Paris Shoes for Fall
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 two pairs of loafers that I take with me to Paris. The first is a classic black horse-bit loafer. I bought mine at Monoprix Paris for under $100, but Sam Edelman makes a nice pair of loafers, the Loraine, which comes in many colors and is widely available.
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 Loafer. Another 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. Of course, there’s the stunning and pricey Gucci classic. The craftsmanship is remarkable and the leather is buttery soft.
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 for fall. They also ship to the U.S.!
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 favorite ballet flats are from Rothy’s, Vivaia and Cole Haan (pictured above). Rothy’s has extensive color 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 ballet flat on my wish list are The Demi by Margaux New York. They come in lots of colors and are 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.
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.
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.
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 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. Explore current options at Nordstrom Rack-Aquatalia and Aquatalia.
I am headed to Paris again this fall, and just ordered waterproof ankle boots from Nisolo: the Eva Chelsea Boot. They have rubber soles and waterproof uppers. I love the sleek style; they don’t look waterproof. I’ll update this once I’ve worn them in Paris. I’m even sort of hoping for rain to see how they hold up. (Note: Nisolo tends to run small so I usually size up a half size.)
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.
Shoes for Spring & Summer in Paris
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.
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.
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.
Shoes for Evening in Paris
Wedge & Block Heel Shoes
If you have some fancy dinners planned for your trip to Paris or just want to look extra chic on your explorations, you’ll want to pack Paris shoes that are elegant. I always pack one slightly nicer pair for an evening option.
Given this may still involve some walking, a block heel is a Parisian classic. For a 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 similar option that I can give my own stamp of approval is Vivaia’s Julie Chunky Heel. I just got the beige with the black toe cap and I’ve worn them already. They are extremely comfortable; a special insole with cushioning and arch support makes them a elegant shoe you can walk in. They are coming with me to Paris in October; I can’t wait to wear them to dinner at some of my favorite Paris bistros.
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 and look equally great with a wide-leg jean and a dress, and should be comfy enough for leisurely Parisian strolls, around the musée or to dinner. I plan to try on the Sézane pair in polished camel on my upcoming trip.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I hope this collection of ideas for Paris shoes has been helpful. I learned from many trips to Paris, the right help make my trip go smoothly. Whether you are planning a trip and need walking shoes for Paris, or are already in the city of light and ready to splurge on shoes in Paris to bring home, I wish you a marvelous trip