Here is your guide to getting that French-girl vacation style this summer! It’s no secret that the French pretty much hit the motherlode when it comes to vacation days. On average, the French get five weeks off every year (and it can go up to eight weeks for some professions), and that’s not even including national holidays like Bastille Day. During peak tourist season i.e. summer (particularly August), many city-dwellers make a mass exodus from Paris in search of new surroundings. And whether it’s the French Riviera, Mauritius, Ibiza, or Dubai, French women always inspire with their enviably chic vacation style. But what are their packing secrets?
French women always try to look put together, even on vacation. Indeed, the French vacation style is chic, elegant, and effortless. French women don’t plan their outfits too methodically, but they still put some thought into it. So if you’re interested in finding out how to put a Parisienne twist on summer trips, I’ve listed below the ten essentials French women always pack for their summer vacation (from beauty to fashion and accessories). Keep reading below to see the simplest ways to bring the sleek and easy looks of Parisians into your vacation ensemble.
The 10 Essentials That Define French-Girl Vacation Style
1. Oversized Linen Button-Down
A linen button-down is perfect to wear on vacation while you’re traveling, on the beach over your favorite swimsuit as a cover-up, or over denim shorts in the evening for a refined vacation look. Also, you can wear an oversized linen button-down with its corresponding pair of linen trousers or separate depending on the day. Plus, linen is very breathable even on the hottest days.
2. White Blouses & Tops
White is always the chicest color to wear in summer —especially when you have a tan. That is why the French never forgets to pack white tops and blouses for their summer vacation. If white t-shirts are the easiest things to pair with denim shorts, skirts, and jeans, on the other hand, ruffles and puffed-sleeve blouses are perfect to look a little more elegant.
3. Denim Shorts
Denim shorts are essential to get French-girl vacation style. And it’s probably the item that gets the most use throughout summer vacation. Indeed, it’s the easiest thing to pair with white blouses, swimsuits and all kinds of tops. For a daytime look just pair your favorite denim shorts with a puffed-sleeve blouse and a pair of espadrilles.
4. White Jeans
White denim is definitely a timeless French summer wardrobe staple that you need in your closet. This French must-have piece can elevate any classic staples like a Breton striped shirt (my favorite for summer is the Saint James Minquiers), or a basic tee. White jeans are slimming, stylish, and can replace your basic blue jeans to hit refresh on your summer wardrobe.
5. Summer Dresses
For their vacation, French women usually pack several styles of dresses that can be worn during the day and go through the night. Mini ones are perfect for the day or for a day at the beach, long ones are stunning and chic for a night out, and wrap dresses are super comfortable to wear for sightseeing. For more details, you can read my previous article on the dresses French women love to wear in summer.
French women generally pack different styles of swimwear: the classic one-piece, the minimal bikini, the high-waist two-piece, the underwire, and the print swimsuit. Not only are these swimwear styles flattering to all body shapes, but they’re also timeless and easy to wear. If you’re looking for a French-style swimsuit this summer, check out my previous article on the best French swimwear brands.
7. Straw Hats
Being French, this is one of the first summer accessories I put in my suitcase for a summer vacation. I do think a nice white Fedora or Panama hat gives instant chic to any outfit. There’s no better way to protect your face from harsh UV rays while still being very chic than with a straw hat.
When shopping for sunglasses, French women tend to avoid any exaggerated trends. Instead, the French usually opt for a classic and timeless shape with a twist. When I’m on vacation, I keep accessories to a minimum and I usually wear the same pair of sunglasses —a timeless pair of Celine— every day. I do prefer to invest in a more expensive pair of sunglasses so I don’t have to change every year.
If the French had to pack only one pair of shoes for a summer gateway it would be a pair of espadrilles of course! It’s the ideal summer shoe style that covers all occasions, and that can go with any outfit. Also, espadrilles are one of the most comfortable shoes to walk in —even these with a high wedge. On vacation, I wear my pair of Castañer Carina literally all the time.
10. Beach Bags
On vacation, French women generally limit themselves to only one big straw bag that works as hand luggage, everyday handbag, and beach bag. You can choose from different styles of bags: the classic French market basket, the straw bag, or the designer canvas tote bag. I have this gorgeous Vanessa Bruno Cabas Bag on my wishlist. Easy to carry and versatile, French women use these straw bags in summer on all occasions —for shopping, picnics, days at the beach, or simply as an everyday handbag.
Summer Beauty Essentials
In summer, French women don’t feel the need to wear much makeup —especially when they have a tan. Instead, they tend to focus on super-lightweight, sheer and creamy products —think tinted moisturizers and cream blush— to enhance their gorgeous just-back-from-the-beach bronzed glow. I like to mix a little bit of the Chanel CC Cream SPF50 with Les Beiges Highlighting Fluid that I apply with fingertips. Then, I apply Chanel Joues Contraste Blush slightly higher on my cheekbones and across the bridge of my nose to enhance that sun-kissed look. I love to wear Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eyeshadow in the shade Burnished Bronze, Guerlain Terracotta just to the high points of my face (forehead, cheekbones, chin), and a layer of Dior Addict Lip Glow Balm on my lips. If you want to learn more, you can read my previous article on the French summer makeup look.
Finally, I always bring with me on vacation a few skincare staples, such as a good SPF, a multi-purpose dry oil (Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil), a gentle dry shampoo (Klorane Oatmilk Dry Shampoo), a multi-purpose hydrating cream (Avène Cicalfate+), and the Avène Spring Thermal Water Spray. Check out my previous article on the French summer skincare routine.
I hope this guide will help you to get that French-girl vacation style this summer! If you have any questions, please add your comments below.
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Bonjour and welcome to Leonce Chenal, a modern lifestyle platform created and curated by a French woman for lovers of everything French. I’m Leonce, born and raised near Annecy, France. Through this website, I want to share with you the passion I have for my home country and for the French art de vivre. Merci for visiting and à bientôt! —Leonce