As I mentioned in my best small bags to travel post, the French in me cannot help but favour any item aesthetically pleasing to something super functional. I know the look of a clothing item shouldn’t dictate everything, so over the years, I had to search and test the most functional travel accessories that yet look fairly good. It took a fair amount of blisters in the process but I now have a solid selection of shoes which take me from day to night and from long walks to trendy cocktail bars elegantly and ‘sans’ blister!
The shoes below have been hiking up the steep hills of Lisbon, walked to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, went sailing in Greece and joined me for romantic dinners in Paris, Tokyo and London. I would be curious to know how many miles or kilometres I have done in these. What I can guarantee you is that they have been thoroughly tested!
The stylish trainers
Starting with the most obvious: the trainers. They are most travellers go-to when it comes to exploring a city, hiking in the countryside or going for a seaside walk. Note that the selection below is for regular and most common terrains – streets, steps, flat country lanes, etc. I would, of course, wear hiking boots for any wilder or more extreme conditions.
The Superga shoes need no introductions, they have been around since 1911 and for good reasons! The thick rubber soles make these some of the most comfortable trainers around. They are perfect if you are going to explore a city all day long or even for an easy walk in the countryside.
I picked my Supergas in silver, and they have so many colours and material options that you can get as classic or as extravagant as you want with these!
I know, I know, EVERYBODY has Adidas Stan Smiths. They are so common that a lot of people find them boring. My tip is to pick a funny detail colour or material. Mine, for instance, have furry black details.
Common? Yes. A bit Millenial-shoes cliche? Indeed. But they are comfortable, waterproof and stylish. They can be styled with jeans or a pretty dress which makes them the perfect shoes to walk in all day and dance in all night!
The ultimate plimsolls! Keds are light, comfortable and cheap! They are not waterproof though so you are better off using them on sunny days.
I have had mine for many years and they are still going strong. I find them to be a more delicate alternative to Converses if like me you have teeny-tiny feet (I am a size UK 3, true story!).
The most stylish and comfortable boots
The above shoes are suitable for most type of temperatures but in the middle of the winter, you probably won’t want to wear regular court shoes when going for dinner or drinks. Luckily I have found the most comfortable pair of boots: Dune Pebble Boots.
The heel is not too high so you can walk in these all day long and the navy velvet make these a bit of a fashion statement. Every time I wear them I get compliments! The fabric is unexpected, yet very on trend, and they are so comfortable that they are the perfect day to night winter shoes!
I took the Dune Pebble Boots with me to Japan, Paris and I wear them daily in London! They are the perfect cold weather shoes for a city break where you may end the day in a snazzy bar.
The best summer shoes
When the temperatures rise you may want to give your feet a bit of fresh air. I still pack and wear the trainers mentioned above with me but I also make sure to have stylish yet super comfortable open shoes.
For the daytime, I can always rely on my Havaianas. The soles of these are so comfortable that even my dad, who had never ever worn open shoes before, got converted after I brought him some back from Brazil. I don’t know what their soles are made of but is like walking on a cloud, no other flip-flops are as good as these.
I have 2 pairs, the regular slim flip-flops, which I bought in L.A. in 2009 and which are still going strong to this day, and the sandal version perfect to walk for hours as they hold tight around the ankle.
It really shows that sometimes paying the brand price is really worth it.
The ultimate French summer shoes, almost everyone back home owns a pair of these. You have flat models for both men and women, but my personal favourites are the low wedges. The thick soles make espadrilles ridiculously comfortable and the low wedges are perfect to be a bit more dressed up yet able to walk. I usually get my espadrilles from either Andre, Marks & Spencer or La Redoute.
I cumulated a few pairs over the years which make these my go-to shoes in the summer as I can switch colours depending on my outfits.
Finally, an espadrille should be cheap, in France we usually buy these at the local markets in seaside towns, so make sure to not overpay when you get your pair!