Shoes in Paris: sensible shoes versus stilettos

So many of us, it seems, have a love affair with beautiful French shoes. In fact, most of us seem to dream, even salivate, over designer French shoes with killer heels: stilettos.

But what do we pack when we travel? Are we fashion-forward or do we put comfort first??

Heels or sensible shoes in Paris?

Not so long ago I wrote an article ‘French shoes: do we all have a Shoe Fetish? #shoefetish’ where I explored attitudes to French shoes in general and more specifically stilettos…

In researching that article I learned that many of us end up wearing sensible shoes when we travel – even in Paris.

I was so stuck that many others shared my view about wearing sensible shoes, that I thought why not explore that topic further and chat about wearing sensible shoes for walking around the most beautiful city in the world.  And why? Well, because, it seems that we all do really consider our feet when it comes to walking… and rightly so!

How to be both fashionable & comfortable

Our feet are very important, but so is what goes on them. We’ve all heard that if your shoes are killing you it shows on your face and we don’t want that!

I for one, need to feel as if I look fashionable at the same time as being sensible and feeling comfortable. Whenever I am in Paris, I opt for my oh-so-comfortable and oh-so-reliable Rockports… which are by no means fashionable but they’re so comfortable.

Of course, I try to stay within a reasonably fashionable look befitting my age at the same time as making no apologies for my footwear… at least they aren’t white runners!

Paris is a walking city and as you’re probably aware, the Parisiennes have that down pat! I see women who look a million dollars walking to work… wearing sensible yet fabulous shoes.

I walk an average of 8 hours a day whenever I am in Paris… usually followed by a well-deserved wine! I try, as I am sure all of us do, not to look touristy and yet still be comfortable – that’s the challenge.

How to decide which shoes to pack?

Of course, the choice of footwear all depends on the season, but comfort must prevail on those mostly cobblestone streets – even the boulevards, which are more walking-friendly places, still you need sensible shoes, in my view!

In summer a good pair of ballerinas or a pair of comfortable designer flats or fashionable sneakers will serve the purpose. Runners are OUT… unless you are running of course. In winter, again fashionable sneakers, a pair of ankle boots, or knee-high boots are the way to go.

The heels on said boots must be sensible as well… the flatter the better. Those sidewalks can get pretty slippery in winter. During the in-between seasons you play it by ear… or be guided by the weather report.

And remember don’t follow my example and pack too many shoes, because you can always buy what you need in Paris… and who doesn’t like to say:

Oh, I bought them in Paris.

There are shoe shops everywhere that aren’t expensive designer labels but small artisan shoemakers… or big department stores.

Whatever you choose, and whatever season you choose to travel, Paris always has you covered when it comes to shoes!

  • MyFrenchLife member Michelle Morgans said that high heels aren’t what is worn in their rural area of Dordogne:

a nice pair of flats, small wedges or Cuban heels seem to be much more appropriate for the little cobblestones in town.

So, as you see, even when travelling outside of Paris, definitely sensible shoes are preferred, actually, probably even more so!


  • Carina Michelle Lewis, also a MyFrenchLife member says:

I haven’t worn heels since moving here [about a year ago].

These are the shoes not to pack – unless

Perhaps now is the time to share which shoes are not worn in Paris… It’s a bit tricky because the choice is yours, entirely, and you can obviously wear whatever you like… Here are a few of the types of shoes you won’t be likely to see in Paris.

  • Really high Stilettos – these are being worn, but not by so many women – and these are the circumstances where you might consider stilettos – to step from a taxi to a restaurant or from a hotel room to the hotel bar! Just think about all those cobblestoned roads in stilettos!
  • FlipFlops – only in the indoor swimming pools where they’re compulsory.
  • Ugg boots – You see them from time to time in cold weather and perhaps in rural France but not on the street in Paris.
  • Crocs – not anywhere, I’ve never ever seen them.

Whatever you like to wear in the way of fashionable shoes, one thing is for sure – Paris is a walking city, so dress for both comfort and style. Your feet will thank you for the consideration!


Do you prefer to wear sensible shoes when travelling even in Paris? Which are your favourite brands? Share your experiences with us in the comments and photos too, please.



Image credits
1. Marie-Antoinette Shoes via
2. Best walking shoes for Paris via
3. Ganni cowboy boots – via
4. Dior black sneakers – via
5. Chloe knee-high boots via
6. Ballerina flats via Chanel
7. ©Kerrin-Gai hofstrand – shoes by Deuxieme Studios, Paris

About the Contributor

Kerrin-Gai hofstrand

I am an Australian and love all things French. My desire is to live in Paris, but for now, I devour French food, wine, and books and attempt to relearn the language. Follow me on Instagram @travelswithkerrin

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One Comment

  1. Monica M Hart Feb 1, 2020 at 10:40 AM - Reply

    My no fail go-to shoes for walking the streets of Italy and France….winter or summer: Mephistos (french), Paul Green (Italian) and Adidas.

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