destination: Bordeaux

wine tasting in Bordeaux
sunglasses | hat | shirt | bag | pants | shoes

A few weeks ago, I dropped a hint about one of our destinations for this year’s European travel. We’ll be bouncing around quite a bit on this trip and in addition to Amsterdam have also planned a few days’ visit to Bordeaux, which is very highly recommended by family and friends who have been there. Among other sightseeing we hope to schedule some wine and culinary tours there. Any recommendations for activities in that region are welcome.

In addition to the two new-to-us destinations, we’ll be re-visiting two other favorite cities. You’ve probably guessed at least one of them. 😉 I’m SO looking forward to this vacation! Based on the multiple destinations, the time of year (late Spring), variety of activities, and the length of the trip, this will be my most challenging one-bag wardrobe yet. We’re still several weeks out, but I’ve already begun mentally sifting through pieces to narrow down my first round draft picks. As always, I’ll be relying on lightweight layers, a neutral core and comfortable footwear.

What’s the longest you’ve lived out of your luggage? How did you do?


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  1. Six weeks, one carry-on bag. Everything from 80 degrees in Athens to snow in Prague. AND, it was business travel, so I had to wear “grown-up” clothes. Having laundry done en route was essential!

  2. I live just outside of Bordeaux in the wine country and spend a lot of time in summer taking visiting overseas friends around the countryside for their ‘taste’ of country France. Bordeaux is a fabulous city and there are many, many ways to enjoy what the area has to offer. If you like the sea and fresh seafood then Arcachon is worth a visit. St Emilion is a medieval village surrounded by some of the best vineyards in France and offers lots of opportunity to taste the local wines. I’m sure you will love your time in Bordeaux.

  3. It looks like we’ll be spending about ten days in London and Paris in May, so I will be following your choices with great interest as I’m planning to pack as lightly as possible.

  4. I’ll be following closely and taking notes… as I plan my own bag packing. We’re going to France for a month, but really you need as many clothes for a week as a month, since we’ll be doing laundry! We’ve rented a flat in Paris and a cottage in Provence, each for a week, each with laundry facilities. Hubby’s idea … which I thought was very clever.

  5. We did a bike trip in Bordeaux a few years ago, and it’s beautiful – you’ll love it. I’ve only packed a carry on for an overnighter – chronic overpacker.

  6. Your choice of foot ware is always amazing! You have inspired me to branch out a bit and try brands other than my beloved Clarks. I see the red Munros in my future. Packing for international travel is a challenge. My first overseas trip was was Japan for 3 weeks. I packed way too much – 3 suitcases! Dealing with the bags was a nightmare. I learned to mix and match wardrobe pieces and now pack one bag. I try to limit jeans/pants to 3-4 and have many tops. One black knit dress, scarves and jewelry add color and interest. I wear one pair of shoes and pack two. Enjoy your exciting travels!

  7. We were in Bordeaux for a week (flanked by 3 days in Paris and 3 days in Brussels) last September and loved it there! You get a real sense of terrioire, comparing right and left banks (I second St Emillion and don’t miss Sauternes!) We always do carryon- I have an 18 inch model (and I have had 2 trips this year saved by that)- I even did a month in France-Italy with a carryon (though as Susan says, you need as much for a week as you do for a month). Will be following your packing and trip with great enthusiasm!

  8. My longest was 5 months in Paris with a walking trip in Spain adding to the challenge. Like Susan, I had a washer/dryer in the apartment. There are teinturies/repassage everywhere in Paris where you can have your clothing washed and pressed. My trip lasted from end of January to end of June so variable weather was a factor. I always admire your choices or shoes because more than anything, I value comfort. Right now, because I discovered Janice, I have 3 pairs of pants, several tops, a cardigan, 1 skirt and 1 dress (all grey with blue/pink accent colour) for 3months. I look forward to hearing about Bordeaux as I have never visited there. Happy planning!

  9. I’m going to recommend you visit The Vivienne Files. It’s also a fashion blog written by a grown up for grown ups. I found her from reading Ms. Tish’s blog, just like I found you.

    1. Hi Andy, yes I’m familiar with Janice’s fabulous blog. She has some great wardrobe suggestions!

  10. Ten months in Europe, September through June. Everything in one carry-on. I’ve never been happier with getting dressed. Best thing: in a number of cities, people (tourists) asked us for directions!

  11. It’s been just three weeks out of luggage for me. I even ended up leaving a few pieces of clothing there during a trip to Central America.
    Love the outfit details you posted. Gives me some excitement for wearing my straw hat again….soon.

  12. hmmm, and I just tried again, and the comment got swallowed again, with the same response. With exactly the same pre-filled-in details that I used for the comment that did get through . . .

    1. Frances, so sorry about that! I just researched and it appears to be known issue with WordPress. I’ll try to fix it tonight.

  13. Bordeaux is a beautiful city; very classic French architecture. Had a reputation of being a bit staid, even stuffy, but it has livelied up in recent years and is a pioneer of modern, environmentally-friendly urbanism in a historic setting, with its sleek trams, walkable and cyclable neighbourhoods.

    And indeed, other than the vineyards, it also has beautiful places to explore on the Atlantic coast.

    This was the first site that popped up when I googled in “Bordeaux”: Do look at it in French, but it is also in English and several other languages (I can’t read either of the Asian ones, but I presume that they are Chinese characters and Japanese). The video with the young couple is a lot of fun; the “bordeaux” convertible is a gas!

    Out of a suitcase? A year and a half, studying in Italy on scholarship. Rather large suitcase; I’d be hard-pressed to lift it into the overhead compartment on trains nowadays, and it would cost me overweight charges on the plane. I did buy a few nice garments in Italy, but on a student budget and more interested in acquiring books and art supplies, not many.

  14. This is so timely since I literally just came off the train from Amsterdam (two days there) to Paris (where we stay for 5 days and then on to Provence). Loved Amsterdam (my first time there) and this is my 9th trip to Paris so I feel like an old timer:) I poured over your blog to plan my wardrobe and mostly fretted about what coat to bring. I used almost all of your ideas – layers, button up cardigans that can be worn over or alone, two pairs of jeans, one black ponte legging and one grey skirt. Everything grey, black or taupe. I was surprised by the weather – I had read all the forecasts and it called for high 50’s-low 60’s with plenty of sunshine. But Amsterdam was very windy so it was much chillier than that. I had debated bringing a packable Calvin Klein unlined rain coat or a Betsy Johnson raincoat lined with fake fur. Opted for the Betsy Johnson and so glad I did!! I never took the lining out in Amsterdam and may not in Paris either. My advice to anyone would be to bring clothes that tend to the chillier side…because you can always shop for a few “lighter” pieces if necessary and those will be easier to pack rather than having to find heavier pieces. A godsend are my Heat 32 long sleeve shirts – so light, packable and easy to wash & dry but definitely a warm under layer!

    Now that I am in Paris I will have to see how much I need the layers. But people here are still dressed pretty warmly. Street sneakers and low boots everywhere. Not so much down coats (probably a little too warm for that) but lots of black coats. And of course the scarves…I brought 3. Shoes: flat taupe Mephisto boots (that I could wear all day long), black wedge suede ankle boots (for day or night), flat Superga navy sneakers (wish I had something a little more street trendy but they’ll do) and I threw in my black ballerinas (may not wear much but they take up very little space and give me an option).

    Sorry for the long post but I know I love hearing what others do! I definitely followed your pattern and so far everything is working out perfectly.

  15. I lived six weeks last summer out of a 26 inch spinner. Three weeks working in London, followed by three weeks tooling about in France. Need the extra size to hold the work paraphernalia – I do this gig every summer – the challenge is to pack lightly enough to heave the thing on and off of trains.

  16. I travelled a lot to the Far East and only had very little luggage for several weeks. Can’t do that any longer, now I prefer to have a variety of clothes with me, not just essential pieces.
    Your trips sounds fantastic!!

    Annette | Lady of Style

  17. Bonjour! Please read Mimi Thorisson’s blog “Manger”, it will give you an insight on this interesting region! She and her family moved from Paris to the Medoc region a while ago and she is opening her renovated “farm” home to cooking classes, a “café”, and visits of the wine region! She seems to be a very pleasant and willing to help! (her e-mail address is on her blog) Bon voyage…

  18. I’ll be very interested to see what you pack for your trip. My husband and I did a 3 week trip to Amsterdam, Paris and Bordeaux/Dordogne about 2 1/2 years ago. The longest I’ve lived out of a backpack was when I was 23! Can’t do that anymore 😉
    The trip to Amsterdam, Bordeaux, etc was the longest I’ve done as an over 50 woman. It was challenging. I took a 22 inch spinner because I knew I had to be able to get on and off trains quickly. We tasted wine in St Emilion (I hope you go there)and then traveled on to Pont de Cause. Our B and B there was fantastic (La Tour de Cause) and I hope you check it out. Our friends Albert and Caitlin Woodbury have renovated this charming B and B and it was the perfect ‘home’ as we toured Sarlat and surrounds. Have a great trip!

  19. Two words: PACKING CUBES! On a recent 10 day trip to Oregon to visit family, I was moving from home to home every day or two (wanted to visit everyone…). Packing cubes saved my sanity. Kept everything neat and organized. I lived out of the small suitcase, didn’t even need to unpack. Of course, I followed all your wonderful wardrobe suggestions, thin layers, mostly knits, wrinkle free items. Love your blog!

  20. Love that blouse. We do a lot of European travel since we have family in Savoie. I think my longest trip on one suitcase was five weeks. I use a 22″ spinner and a smallish backpack. I have become the queen of sink laundry! Everything in my suitcase goes with everything else–I allow no exceptions! I limit myself to two pair of shoes, one for walking and one for slightly dressier, but never heels. I wear one watch, one pair of earrings, maybe one bracelet, and I buy new costume jewelry as I go for souvenirs. I don’t take a lot of scarves, but I will buy one or two on a trip. I always have my hat, a roll-up straw visor type. After many years of travelling, I know how much I will need in terms of toiletries, and I decant into small bottles before I go. I use minimal makeup on the road. One year we took a cruise home across the Atlantic instead of flying, and I was pleased with myself for having only one bag to lug on to the ship. In nearly three decades of European travel, I finally have the formula down, but it took a long time to get there. I will be in Paris in May, and I have my 10 piece wardrobe all ready to go.

  21. Here’s another shout-out for Saint Emilion. We live in Paris but go down there every 3 months or so (next trip coming up in 2 weeks; can’t wait) and will probably end up moving there. One thing to note about Saint E is that it has very cobbled streets, some of which are very steep, so you’ll need flat shoes with a non-slip sole if you decide to go there. There’s a fabulous restaurant called Le Tertre that we go to every time; fresh, regional cuisine with a creative touch and not too pricey. Would be happy to help with more recs for there if you need them!

  22. Sounds like an amazing trip. I can’t wait to see all of the posts that will come from such inspiration. I have always wanted to go to Amsterdam so I will be especially looking forward to what you find there. What a challenge to figure out how to do this in one suitcase, but you always have such a great selection of light fabrics and jerseys it should not be too hard. Comfy shoes are the absolute must.

    Accidental Icon

  23. I travel with a small bag but check it because it is always overweight for hand luggage which is 7kgs. From Australia airlines tend to check the weight of hand luggage especially if you don’t check anything. So I am interested if this happens in other countries and how you get round this issue.

    In Amsterdam take a canal trip it isthe best way to view the city. But if you have time also go to Rotterdam it gives you a completely different experience. I actually prefer Rotterdam.

  24. Maryann, taking a canal trip is good, as it provides a good idea of the shape of the city and its historical development. However just taking the trams is also an excellent way of viewing the city, preferably avoiding rush hours. Nederland is such a small country that nowhere is very far by train; easy to visit Rotterdam, the Hague or Utrecht as a daytrip.

  25. My family and I will be traveling to London, Paris, Germany and Italy for two weeks this summer to celebrate my son’s high school graduation. Seeing as we will be moving around so much, I would like to only take a carry on suitcase. Seeing as you are such a pro at traveling, are they any tips you can give me to accomplish this task? I love your style and any help you can give me would be SO appreciated!!!!

    Thank you!

  26. I lived for two months out of a carry-on spinner, and a backpack for computer and plane stuff, during a move from The Netherlands back to the U.S. last year. Spent time in Paris, Ile de Re, New York, Amsterdam and then Florida as our new home base. As it was the summer, didn’t need anything too warm, but the summers in Holland can be cool, so did need some choices for layering. Did lots of hand laundry, but I’m fine with limited choices for a few weeks. Makes getting dressed very easy, that’s for sure! Looking forward to your wardrobe choices, as I always find some great ideas in your posts :-).

  27. When I was 21, I backpacked around Europe and Israel for 12 months – with all my clothes etc in my backpack. I think it scarred me for life and now overpack to the point I had 100kgs of luggage flying from Australia to Saudi Arabia.

  28. How exciting – can’t wait to hear all about it! The last time I traveled, it was for less than a week and I had one carry on which worked out so well that I could have stayed a whole month! So I will definitely be keeping that framework for future reference.

    I had warm to cool days, casual sightseeing to one formal dinner to cover. I took a short nylon quilted jacket with detachable hood, pair of softly tailored trousers, 2 pairs of jeans, 3-4 viscose tees, 2 silk blouses, 2 dresses, 1 top, 1 light cardigan, 2 pairs of shoes (for day walking and evening). I stuck to a black/white/navy scheme and added colour with 2 silk scaves, one cashmere/silk shawl and brique colour bag. What I would do different next time for a longer stay is substitute one pair of normal jeans for a lighter weight version I’ve since found, add a couple of cotton shirts, a light linen jumper and another pair of walking shoes and a small bag. I tend not to bother with washing clothes if it’s a trip of no more than a week taking enough to change/alternate but more than that I would make sure to be able to wash all items obviously. Happy planning!

  29. We recently served 2009 St. Emilion – Chateau St. Georges at a dinner, and it was wonderful. So you might consider visiting that vineyard if you’re in the area.

  30. We, too, are planning a late spring trip to Holland, Paris and Bordeaux. Already obsessing what to take, to pack light and smart. Love your suggestions, and I look forward to your coming pre-trip posts!

  31. You asked about how some of us manage the challenges of traveling light — here is my story (or, one of them…).

    Three weeks ago, in February, I enjoyed a 12-day stay in Rapallo, Italy, on the Ligurian Coast. To prepare for this trip, I did three things.
    I read Jess Walters’ recent novel, “Beautiful Ruins.”
    I closely monitored the weather forecast right up until the night before my flight.
    And I paid strict attention to your recommendations re luggage and packing.

    Although I am quite frugal, and would normally not spend $200 on a suitcase, I followed your advice and purchased a Lipault Paris, 22” carry-on. And despite my tendency to over-pack, I limited myself to a 10-piece wardrobe in black, white, or grey (except for one lilac turtleneck and several colorful scarves). Thinking I’d be bored wearing such a muted palette, I was surprised to learn how perfectly it suited me. I had no worries over “what goes with what,” and always felt “pulled together” and fashionable.

    I am IN LOVE with my Lipault Paris carry-on! Thanks to that single piece of luggage, I didn’t have to stand in a long line at the airport to check my bags. And because I’d packed so minimally, I breezed through security. When I discovered how easy it was to lift my carry-on and stash it in the overhead bin, I dismissed any guilt about such “expensive” luggage.

    Thank you so much for your truly helpful hints on fashion and travel; your blog is the BEST!!

    1. Judith, oh I’m SO glad to hear the Lipault bag and capsule wardrobe worked out so well for you! Thanks for letting me know.

  32. I am off to Paris on March 27 and then to Bordeaux and St. Emilion. So excited! I am in the process of picking out what to bring – trying to use your ideas to facilitate packing lightly.

  33. HI, I was amused to see this, because I have just decided to spend a few days in Bordeaux in the summer and am angsting about what to pack. Your problems seem so simple! I am planning a few days in Paris, then a few days in the Vendee at a family party, then a few days in Bordeaux and then a few more in the southwest with friends. Total two weeks. All travel by train apart from a return flight to London. So I need, in one case, clothes for city tourism, a party dress, swimming stuff, walking boots and (fortunately v lightweight and folding) walking sticks! Obviously footwear that can cope with the party and more casual use. Fortunately I always wear flats, so am imagining maybe a pair of shoes and a pair of sandals. I may need to do some work while away, so planning a laptop as well. And it may well be hot, so I can’t reckon to wear a top for more than a day without washing. And I need sunglsasses, a sunhat, a waterproof, a sweater – and ideally binoculars. And I may have to carry a birthday present! I’m an avid reader, don’t have a kindle, so it is either books or a bulky ipad. Fortunately I don’t wear makeup, but will want suncream, moisturiser etc.I guess that all travel will have to be in my walking boots, but even so it seems a lot to cram in.

  34. We just spent three days in Bordeaux last weekend. The Hotel Burdigala was a lovely, boutique hotel. We had a wonderful dinner at Jean Ramet (7, pl. Jean-Jaures). The Sunday market was incredible and a fun way to spend a few hours along the Garonne.

    I am living out of two suitcases since March 2014! We sold out home a year ago and have been traipsing the globe. Looking forward to settling in one place very soon.

    Enjoy your trip!