By Liz Stephens
We did it: We just booked our first-ever trip to Europe! 12 days of fun and frolicking in London and Paris. And of course, this means a lot of walking. As much as I heart my Antelope wedges, something tells me they won’t work so well on the cobblestone streets of the UK and France. No, I need new kicks that will give me enough support to walk much more than I normally do.
Therein lies the problem. No one wears actual “kicks” in Paris. No, the women of Paris float around effortlessly in adorable ballet flats all day long (looking perfectly put together, of course). I’ve tried ballet flats before – they typically don’t offer enough support for all-day walking. But is it even possible to buy cute shoes that are also good for traipsing around, tourist-style all the time?
I’m here to tell you, after exhaustive research and tons of shopping (and returning), yes, you can find cute walking shoes for Europe that won’t leave your feet aching after day one of your vacation.
I found three pairs. Three. Pairs. Of. Shoes. I. Love. I now own a new pair of boots, a pair of Mary Janes and a pair of delicate-but-supportive flats – and that’s all my happy traveling feet will need for this trip.
First, the boots: Autumn in London and Paris can be a tricky time, shoe-wise. Average temps are between 45-60 degrees, and it rains. A lot. My thinking was, I needed a pair of boots that were waterproof and slip-proof.
That’s where these awesome ECCO boots came in. The ECCO Abelone GTX Short Boot is perfect for my needs. It is extremely waterproof, it offers plenty of sole support (and a removable footbed if you need to put in some orthotics), and it’s actually really cool looking (IMO). The GORE-TEX was a concern – would they be simply too hot for fall? I’ve worn them around for several days now and I can honestly say that no, they’re no warmer than any other ankle boot.
See? Nice, right? I like the sleek look of this boot – it will pair really well with my black pants and jeans. ECCO shoes/boots are not cheap, but at long last, I’ve finally learned that you almost always do get what you pay for – spend the $$$ and get good shoes. I’ve earned it.
Next up: My casual, practical walking shoe – the Naot Sea. I’ve heard friends rave for years about Naot shoes. “They’re the most comfy shoes ever!” “It’s like walking on clouds!”
But wow, the price. Yikes. The high price always held me back, but given how much we’re shelling out for our trip, I figured I should at least order a pair and see what all the fuss is about.
I’ll be honest: The Naot Sea isn’t the greatest looking shoe out of the box. The shoes are definitely much cuter ON. Don’t write off Naot until you try a pair. The Sea shoes feature a 1.5” polyurethane sole (very sturdy for cobblestone walking), along with an anatomic cork and latex footbed that molds to your feet as you wear them.
And you know what? The moment I slipped these shoes on, I knew why everyone was raving. Yep, it really does feel like you are walking on clouds, with some support of course. But the cushioning is definitely there.
See? Not bad looking, but not the shoe you grab in the store and scream over. It’s a much better looking shoe ON. Just remember that. You owe it to yourself to at least try the Naot. If you aren’t thrilled with the thicker sole, you can always go with one of Naot’s other popular Mary Jane styles (the Matai is nice looking, for example).
And now for the “fun” part of my shoe shopping experience: the search for the delicate-but-supportive flats! The challenge here, without a doubt, was to find a great feminine-looking shoe that I could wear out to nice dinners.
IF I win the lottery tomorrow, I can tell you I’ll purchase a pair of Tieks, but the high price point keeps me from pulling the trigger and ordering. For now, I’m really thrilled to say that I found a great pair of stylish, black travel flats by Yosi Samra.
Adorable, right? And SO comfortable! These are the shoes I think I’ll wear the most around town on a day-to-day basis, though for Europe I may have to limit them to just evenings (possibly with tights). They have a great, durable sole and a bit of padding but very little arch support. The Samra is a slip-on flat that just seems perfect for everything from running errands or a nice dinner out. Also? They are lightweight, and they pack extremely well. They fold right up into the cutest little dust bag for traveling (and they fit in my tote – another plus).
I hope this helps anyone worrying about the agony of aching feet (or in my case, also an aching back) – you can absolutely find cute shoes for fall walking in Europe, you just have to start shopping early and be prepared to return the shoes or boots if they don’t fit right. Allow plenty of time for this process, because I’m told that shoes really are the MOST important thing when it comes to packing right for a European trip.