July 31, 2021

Souvenirs from all over the world

Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in France

Oh la la, France… The land of good cheese, great wine, and scrumptious croissants and éclairs. Admiring the Parisian architecture, basking in the smell of lavender in Provence, sunbathing at the French Riviera… and eating way too many baguettes.

France is one of the most popular tourist destinations for a good reason. It has everything you might want out of a holiday: culture, adventure, nature, history, luxury. There is something for everyone!

So what do you buy as a gift or a souvenir in France?

Here are our top picks:

1. Wine

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This cliché is a cliché for a reason! French wines are exquisite and widely regarded as some of the best wines in the world.

If your tour of France includes a vineyard or a wine cellar tour (which it totally should), buy a couple of bottles following the wine tasting. Make sure the bottles are properly packaged for transport.

Try supermarkets like Monoprix for some of the more well-known bottles. Seek out boutique wine shops or wine cellars for lesser-known bottles.

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2. Perfume

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A bottle of perfume or eau de toilette is an excellent choice for a souvenir or a gift. Is there a better way to remember France than by putting on a bit of a luxurious scent every morning?

It’s also possible to customize a scent and get your own signature scent. This is a service offered by many famous perfume shops.

A handmade perfume bottle is also an excellent choice for a souvenir or a gift.

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3. Beret

Photo by Angus MacAskill on Flickr.com

When we think of a stereotypical French person, we think of someone wearing a stripy top, carrying a baguette, and wearing a beret. Berets are easy to transport and are a great souvenir choice for a budget-friendly traveler.

Naturally, you could go all in and purchase a more high-end beret, but there are also plenty street sellers around offering berets in various colors.

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4. Cheese

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Another distinctly French delicacy is cheese. French cheese or fromage can be found all around the country and there are as many kinds of cheese as you can imagine. The French love their cheese and you can try cheese boards in most French restaurants. Just be careful, some kinds of French cheese have a very distinct smell that doesn’t sit well with everyone!

At many fromageries (cheese shops) around the country, you can get your cheese vacuum-packed so you can transport the cheese back home. Make sure you buy a hard cheese because the fresh goat cheese must be kept cold.

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5. Fleur de Sel

By Véronique PAGNIER (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Salts from the southern part of France (fleur de sel) are pretty famous in the country, so they would be a perfect gift for someone who loves to cook. Or you can proudly display them in your own kitchen countertops!

French sea salt is harvested in France just off the coast of Brittany in regions such as Guerande, which is known for its salt marshes. The color is gray or pinkish, due to the sand and algae present in the reservoirs. The flakes are delicate crystals.

The sea salts come in the scents of rose, lavender, and jasmine – but the options are countless when you visit one of the shops or markets selling salts.

Note: Use this salt not in ordinary cooking or baking, but as a finishing salt.

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6. Clothes

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France is home to many iconic fashion houses. In addition to that, many statement pieces have originated someplace on the French soil.

Get your hands on one of these to effortlessly replicate the classic, minimalist, put-together French style.

  • The little black dress

Popularised by Coco Chanel, this piece has become ubiquitous is every woman’s wardrobe. Find one that fits you like a sleeve and remember your French trip for years after.

  • The striped Breton Tee

Originally worn by seamen in the French Navy, this tee has become a staple in French and international fashion. It is also known as a Breton shirt, as many sailors in the French Navy were from Brittany.

  • The silk ‘handkerchief’ scarf

The French wear minimal accessories, but the one thing they do better than anyone else is scarves. Get your hands on a silk handkerchief scar to spice up your plain outfits, and feel a tiny bit French every day.

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7. Luxury

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Whilst luxury items are not in everyone’s souvenir budget, there’s really no better place to make an investment into a luxury item.

Paris is home to many prime designers, including Chanel, Pierre Cardin, Céline, Chloe, Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermès, Lanvin, Rochas, Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Many cities including Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Lille, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Nantes and Rennes, holds important luxury districts.

Whether it’s a Louis Vuitton handbag, an Hermès scarf, or a Chanel perfume, these pieces will last a lifetime. Just be careful to investigate custom regulations and gauge possible financial drawbacks!

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8. Herbes de Provence

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Provence is a province of southeastern France, bordered by the Rhone River, the Mediterranean Sea and Italy. Herbes de Provence refers to either a dried herbs blend or a fine-grade olive oil infused with thyme, lavender and garden herbs.

These blends often contain savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.

World-renowned chefs swear by it when cooking stews or roasting. Try the oil as a dipping sauce for a crusty loaf of fresh-baked bread!

Find them freshly prepared in the daily markets, in specialty shops, or for a more budget-friendly option, in any large supermarket (e.g. Monoprix).

Bonus tip: Pick up some dried lavender too!

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9. Crêpe Pan

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Crêpes originated in Brittany (fr. Breton), in the northwest region of France. They are made of a thin layer of wheat or buckwheat flour and are quintessentially French (although nowadays they are widely consumed almost everywhere in Europe).

They can be eaten savory or sweet, but sweet ones tend to be more popular. They are usually topped with Nutella spread, preserves, sugar (granulated or powdered), maple syrup, golden syrup, lemon juice, whipped cream, fruit spreads, custard, and sliced soft fruits or confiture.

Buy a crepe pan and have a souvenir that your entire family or friends can enjoy!

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10. French Soap

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French are very particular about their soap, so good-quality soaps can be found for only a couple of euros.

Savon de Marseille is probably the most famous one. Marseille soaps are 100 % natural, based exclusively on vegetable oils and some will have added essential oil and flowers for the scent (lavender, rosemary, and rose petals). They are economical and cruelty-free.

You can find other types of solid soaps everywhere, including in the beauty section of most supermarkets.

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Bonus Ideas:

The Little Prince

A cult book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince was voted as the best French book of the 20th century. It is one of the most translated books in the world, and will make for an excellent gift or a souvenir!

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Items from Concept Shops

Concept shops such as Merci in the Marais are filled with unique and artistic gems, such as prints of the mock magazine project called The Parisianer. Make sure to check out concept shops for small knick knacks you could bring back home!