I love to travel. I hate to look like a tourist. Especially in a metropolitan setting (it’s a whole other style discussion if I’m going to trek up and down the Grand Canyon). The ubiquitous camera is the first dead giveaway. And then the shoes. The comfortable, sensible walking shoes. Might as well have TOURIST tattooed in all caps on your forehead, right? You’re with me, I know it. It’s not that I need to wear 3 inch heels when I’m about to take the 3 miles city walking tour. I just don’t want to look… dowdy in my comfortable walking. And neither do you. I know you’re still there with me.

What makes a great walking shoe? It needs to:

  • provide good shock absorption for hitting the – charming cobbled? – pavement
  • have a slight heel to allow smooth heel-to-toe roll
  • be lightweight. You don’t need to be carrying extra weight around on your feet nor in your suitcase.
  • have a design that provides structure and support so that your foot doesn’t have to fight and constantly readjust to stay on the footbed. Flipflops be gone.
  • have a good fit so that there is no pinching or sliding.

As I am soon going back to my native city of Montreal – a walking city, I went searching for a comfortable shoe that still offered plenty of style. Besides that, my other requirements were that the shoe could be worn equally well with a skirt or pants and be of a neutral, go-with-everything color. I thought that I’d mention some of the shoes and brands that met my demands for this particular season:

Camper – I love this Spanish brand and own a couple pairs of Campers with cushy rubber soles that give a bounce to every step. This fun sandal has a padded footbed and a manageable “net” heel height of only one inch. Camper is based in Barcelona. The company imparts a new lifestyle based on freedom, comfort and creativity. Buy at Endless.com in red or black.
Arche – A French company that designs shoes to be worn for hours and hours. Doesn’t this pair look so French? I own a pair of Arche sandals and sing their praises every single time I slip them on. They are light as air, with 100% natural Latex cushioning for continuous shock absorption. These are on the more expensive side, but the quality is definitely there. Buy at Zappos.
Sofft – The gladiator styling of this sandal is very “au courant” and the bronze color makes it very passe-partout (I think I’m ready to pick up my French again!). Sofft shoes are handmade with premium materials and patented technology that delivers comfort and style. Buy this Ravenna model Zappos here but check out the Ravia model too.

 

 

Crocs – I used to think that Crocs were the ugliest thing, but I may find myself wearing a pair before too long… If they look like these, I’d be happy to. Cuteness + comfort is a great formula! But at Crocs or at Endless.com.
Geox is known as the “breathing shoe”, a shoe construction technique which is achieved with a membrane that absorbs sweat from the insole and expels it as water vapor through micro-holes in the outsole. Great for those who prefer to wear a closed shoe, especially in the form of this elegant skimmer. Buy at Zappos.
Pikolinos -  This brand has its own personality. Pikolinos shoes are handcrafted with hand sewn natural leather that is both soft and durable to create a comfortable shoe. The open bootie style would work great with maxi length skirts and with pants or denims. I love this Paris model in the brown or the blue. But take a look at this wedge sandal too.
Born – This brand is well known for the comfort and hand-sewn construction of its shoes. Finest quality materials, soft supple leathers and shock-absorbing foam ensure the foot is wrapped in comfort. Great go-with-everything sandal. Buy at OnlineShoes.com.
Me Too – I’ve mentioned this brand before and need to reiterate how good these shoes have been to me, allowing to complete many miles in Europe and on the hard concrete trade shoe floors. Buy at Endless.com.

So, if you’re going to be a seriously elegant tourist, this all this means that you will leave the flips flops at for the beach and the running shoes at the gym. Oui?

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Tags: comfort, shoes, walking

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