Friday, 3 June 2011

The Bishop's Palace and Vacation Packing

This weeks Friend Friday is about vacation packing.  How pertinent!  I thought I'd share some more photos with you from my recent vacation in France to illustrate.  See ModlyChic for posts by the Friend Friday crew.

Make no mistake - I am the world's worst packer!  Since cheap European airlines cracked down by imposing strict weight limits on suitcases with fines my European holidays have been satorially ruined for me.  Gone are the days of packing everything and the kitchen sink for a summer holiday with an outfit a day, makeup and beach books all in there.  These days we are all trying to squeeze dressing for our week away into a ten kilo limit and a bag small enough to store in the hold of the aircraft to avoid feeling ripped off for having to pay £20 to check in another bag.  I personally can't deal.  I am one of those types that needs everything with me.  Like Rachel Zoe - I need options!

Clearly such extravagance isn't possible anymore but that has made the process of choosing what to take a nightmare for me.  So it usually gets done at the last minute and badly.  This time I actually planned ahead and checked what the weather was going to be like and the forecast was for four days of rain.  As you can see from the photo - not a raincloud in sight.  So all those cool, wet weather options taking up valuable bag space didn't get used and I was restricted to the few items I had that were suitable for sunny, warm weather.  I felt ripped off!  And I could only take three pairs of shoes with me!!

This is where we stayed while in Alet les Bains, the Eveche hotel which in centuries past was the Bishop's palace and once the site of important meetings in the Christian church.  It's said that Nostradamus was a guest on such occasions.

In the hotel grounds are ruins of the old cathedral.

We had a room with a view! The foothills of the Pyrenees are in the background.

I like decorating any hotel room I stay in with my bits and pieces to make it feel a bit more like home.

The grounds and gardens are stunning!  The gardens back onto the River Aude.

For those who are not in Europe one of the most annoying things you will have to endure packing for a European holiday is the current requirement to stick your handbag in your hand luggage bag when you check in and go through security.  So you have to remember to leave enough space and weight allowance for the handbag you plan to bring with you.  If you are a big bag lady that means making enough room for something like this!

Needless to say if I want to do any shopping when I get to my destination I can't avoid coughing up to check in a bag. Of course it helps if you travel with someone who tends to travel light so you can steal their weight allowance...

And now to the questions:

1. When it comes to packing for vacation what’s your mantra?

If you are not risking a fine for blowing your weight allowance then you haven't packed enough.

2. What are your must packs?

Does not compute.

3. What are you happy to leave behind?

Usually I'm never happy leaving anything behind - I wish I could take everything and the kitchen sink with me.

4. Any packing secrets that help you get everything into one suitcase?

Leave it to the very last minute until you have to just jam everything into, zip it up and run out the door without giving it too much more thought. I find sitting on the gear before closing up helps! Buy a suitcase with one of those expandable zippers - they are lifesavers.

Also if you can't pack it wear it.  London is usually cool enough even in the summer to get away with layering up with things like knitwear and outerwear that would otherwise fit in my suitcase.  I stick small but heavy things like cameras, mobile phones and chargers, Ipods and keys in my pockets so they don't get weighed when checking in.

5. Beach reading… what are you taking with you to read in the sand?

To me a book takes up the precious weight allowance of extra clothing options. Instead I buy local fashion magazines to take with me to the beach. It's a way in which I get inspiration by understanding what is fashionable in other countries and acts as a heads up as to what goodies I can find in the local shops.


  1. Hi my dear-fabulous holiday packing tips and what stunning photos too, thanks for sharing xx

  2. Lovely photos! I went to Greece for Easter and had a similar experience to yours - the weather was a lot cooler than expeced, so I basically wore the same few garments through the whole week! I washed them of course, but still. And after 4 days I was so sick of it that I went out and bought a pair of jeans and a shirt.

  3. I enjoyed seeing more of your French trip! I am a recovering excess baggage-paying victim, I hate travelling light but have made improvements on it!

  4. This is so funny--I think because we're very much opposites in packing, although the weight restriction thing is a fantastic TIP!

    Over the years, I have developed one must-have item: a large raw tussar silk shawl from India. It's the best scarf/shawl/blanket/pillow/whatever I can dream up I've ever had.

    Your photos of France are, as always, so beautiful.

  5. I hate packing. It takes an age to organise myself but I always weigh in at less than 12kg (and that includes books). It's rather liberating to have a tiny amount of clothes, I wish I could be as disciplined in my normal life. xxx

  6. Gorgeous photos! haha I'm always in trouble for going over the weight limit :p

  7. Great answers!! And the photos of your trip are making me sooooo jealous!!! Mind you, the weather here is pretty sweet right now - and I'm off to london for the weekend, so I can't complain!!

    Your response to the first question make me laugh - A LOT!!!! So true too :)


  8. Hah...I love your thoughts on packing! They're very different from my own practices; I'm a bit neurotic about traveling with a light, useful, quickly accessed, mix-and-match, minimalist kit o' stuff. But your practices give me a smile. I also like the idea of decorating the hotel room a bit, especially a hotel room with character, like the one you show.

    I'm currently trying to plan what I'll pack for Montreal in the autumn. I need to balance my minimalist packing tendencies with the desire to look stylish and tidy at all times. We're taking a car, not a plane, so I should let myself load up more nice clothes and shoe options!

  9. What are your must packs? Does not compute!

    That was too funny!!!! I love to take everything with me! On the first road trip my husband and I took together I had the trunk and the back seat filled with all kinds of stuff!! When I travel by plane, it takes me a week to pack because here in the states, the baggage fees will kill you! In the good old days, I would travel with one suitcase and come back with two! LOL

    Those pictures of your trip are breath taking! I would have a feel day in those gardens and looking at those ruins! It speaks to the history buff in me! :)

  10. You are hysterical! I too need options and have difficulty leaving stuff behind! Here in the US we pay $25 for a checked bag (spoiled me doesn't like dragging my bag through the airport)but fortunately we don't need to cram our handbags in the luggage!!
    I went through a similar experience with packing for the weather this year. Should have been warmer and I had packed for warm weather. Most of my cute summery items didn't get worn once and I found myself wishing for my jacket!
    Happy Friend Friday!!

  11. This is certainly true that airlines charging obscene fees these days & having tight restrictions, which is why I carry-on always! Expandable zippers are a godsend! haha! :) -xxoo

  12. I love your outfit! So casual cool!

  13. The hotel you stayed in looks so cool and the history behind it is awesome. Makes me want to go to France now!
    Packing has become something of plan because I really have to go through what I what to really take with me. I created a list because I wanted to make sure I am prepared. And I also don't want to carry a lot with me because I don't want to be hauling extra stuff around. So I do a lot of clothes rolling and folding to get adequate space.



  14. I love the view from your room.

  15. I really like those loose trousers you have on the look very chic yet comfy too.

  16. "If you are not risking a fine for blowing your weight allowance then you haven't packed enough."

    LOL! Over packers anonymous.


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