Part of all the fun when it comes to travelling to a new destination is all the local goodies you will come to discover. Each and every country has its own list of items that it is famed for: French wine, Italian olive oil, Spanish Jamon… These are the wonderful things that give a country its charm and also make for an excellent choice of gift for those who are not there to enjoy these travels with you.
Buying souvenirs from France is an enjoyable experience. Maybe you are buying them for yourself to remember all the great experiences you amassed during your travels. Or perhaps you want to bring something back for your loved ones, to show them that ‘hey, this trinket made me think of you!’. Whatever your reason, France is one of those destinations that is very much a souvenir heaven.
Here are some of the souvenirs from France you could add to your list.
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Whether your preference is for a sweet or a fresher scent, there are few things that provide more comfort than the fragrance of a beautifully handcrafted artisan soap. Lucky for you, there is plenty of choice in this department in France - particularly in the south of France. Marseille is actually incredibly famous for the soaps that it makes, producing a soap of its own name - Marseille soap. Traditionally a hard soap made from vegetable oil, Marseille soap has been manufactured in the area for almost 600 years, making it one of the most unique and authentic souvenirs from France.
When browsing the soaps that you are interested in, you may opt for an assortment box of different types of soap. Assortment boxes make fantastic gifts as they give an element of variety to the individual receiving the gift. Alternatively, if the present is to yourself, you may want to opt for the scent you know you like. French soaps are a welcome addition to any home and are particularly well placed within your guest bathroom.
Perfume, or in French perfume, is unsurprisingly one of France’s main industries, after all the art of perfume has been associated with France for many decades, if not centuries, with Chanel, Christian Dior and Estee Lauder all hailing from France. Although often associated as a souvenir from Paris, the real heart and soul of France’s perfume industry is actually in the small town of Grasse, northwest of Nice. With its mild Mediterranean climate, Grasse produces an abundance of jasmine, lavender, myrtle, roses and mimosa. All of these beautiful plants provide some of the most important natural aromas used by the perfume industry.
Perfume is a fantastic gift for anybody, and definitely something you want to buy when visiting Paris. However, if you are near Nice in the south of France, and in the mood for a little bit of adventure, head over to Grasse to both buy some of the most authentic French perfumes you will find, as well as learn a little bit about the history and scope of the French perfume industry.
All things Lavender
Summer in Provence is usually accompanied by the fragrant scent of lavender, emanating from fields upon fields of the purple flower. The sight is truly iconic, and the overabundance of lavender along with its multiple uses means that you can find some incredible products using the scent.
Get some dried lavender for your closets back home to repel moths. Some lavender flowers by your bedside table are said to have a scent so soothing you will drift off to sleep. Lavender oil is believed to cure acne and soothe headaches, whilst the essential oil is known for both its antiseptic and aromatherapy properties. Whatever your needs, products that use lavender are a strong contender for some excellent French souvenirs.
Parisians have a reputation for being elegant and well kept, and while we are sure that there are many reasons for this, the country’s multi-billion-euro beauty industry has likely played a role. With some of the most recognisable beauty brands, such as Vichy, La Roche-Posay and Avene hailing from France, there are multiple cosmetic product options to choose from. Cosmetics are not only a fantastic gift to yourself from France, but we are also certain that your mum will also appreciate a delightfully replenishing day cream.
What says deliciously French more than a French Macarons? Perhaps only other delicious French pastries, but sadly those are a little bit more difficult to bring back home. To satiate your sweet tooth and to feel ever so delicate, macarons are possibly one of the most easily identifiable French souvenirs. Whilst in Paris, head to the Laduree chain of pastry shops for a small colourful box of these meringue-based delicacies; they have been making these sweets for the past 150 years so they have definitely perfected the recipe.
For another deliciously sweet souvenir, make sure you bring back home some madeleines. This small cake is packed with huge flavour. Madeleines are essentially a mini sponge cake, and they always sport a distinctive shell shape with tapered edges.
Often accompanying a morning or an afternoon coffee, these little cakes are often eaten hot in the French markets. Many believe that Paris’ finest madeleines are made at Fabrice Le Bourdat’s Ble Sucre, so be sure to go and try a few and maybe bring a box back for yourself and your loved ones.
France is one of five countries famous for its chocolate (Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Spain are the other four). As we all know chocolate is a welcome treat for everyone. Perhaps one of the most famous French chocolate brands is La Maison du Chocolat, established in 1977 by the famous chocolatier Robert Linxe. Offering a range of mouthwatering treats, when visiting Paris make sure to visit this chocolate boutique.
Wine is often associated with France, and this is because the country produces some of the finest wines to ever grace humanity’s taste buds. Produced throughout the entire country, France is one of the largest wine producers in the world.
Wherever you may be travelling in France, if you are interested in wine then be sure to explore the local vineyards and chateau. Not only will you learn a fascinating amount about this much-loved drink, but you will also have the opportunity to buy bottles by the box and for decent prices too.
Did you know that although we use the term champagne generically to describe sparkling wine, it is actually illegal to label any product champagne unless it comes from the French Champagne region? Situated in the north-east of France, Champagne is world famous for its champagne produce, with many world-renowned companies hailing from this region. For an added touch of luxury to your holiday, make sure to pick up a bottle (or a box) for all those special occasions you have planned back home.
What is better than pairing French cheese with all of your recently acquired French wines? Probably nothing. France is famous for its large variety of cheeses hailing from different parts of the country. From Comte to Roquefort, you are definitely going to find a cheese that suits both your taste and the wine that you just bought. When picking all your delicious cheeses to bring back and share with your family and friends, make sure to pick up a cheese knife too, as you may as well come back with the complete set.
Foie gras is a luxury food product in France, and “belongs to the protected cultural and gastronomic heritage of France.” While the process of production may be unappealing to some, foie gras is a rich, buttery and delicate treat that has an incredible level of versatility in how it can be prepared. Emanating luxury and elegance, this food product is definitely something you want to try whilst in France (especially if you want to experience French culture for all it has to offer). Insofar as you are an adventurous cook, or you know of an adventurous cook, then foie gras is a fantastic souvenir for anyone looking to treat themselves.
Another delicious treat to try in France and then bring back home is saucisson (also known as saucisson sec). This variety of thick, dry cured sausage is native to France and is typically made of pork or a mixture of pork and other meats. Rather similar to salami or summer sausage, this cold cut is a delicious snack with some bread, butter, and a glass of wine.
Fleur de sel
Translating to “flower of salt”, fleur de sel is a salt that forms as a thin, delicate crust on the surface of seawater as it evaporates. Although fleur de sel has a long history of traditional use as a salve, it is increasingly being used in gastronomy as a finishing salt to flavour and garnish food. Fleur de sel is not meant to be used during the cooking process, instead, its purpose is to add a touch of flavour to already cooked food such as eggs, fish, meat, vegetables, chocolate and caramel. As such, you do not need to bring back huge quantities of it, as a little goes a long way.
Herbs and spices
France is a country famed for its cuisine, and one of the main reasons for that is the abundance of delicious herbs that are used in French cooking. Bay leaves, chives, fennel, rosemary, marjoram, tarragon and thyme to name just a few all offer distinct flavours in food and can turn even the cheapest cut of meat into a delicious mouthwatering treat. As such it comes as no surprise that one of the best French souvenirs you could bring home is a pot of dried herbs to be used either by you or a loved one. Some of the most famous herb combinations from France are, Bouquet garni, Fines Herbes, and Herbes de Provence. Ensure that you store them in an airtight container and in a dark cupboard in order to keep their fresh fragrances, and therefore flavours, alive for as long as possible.
Originating from Normandy, Calvados is a delicious apple or pear brandy. This drink is the basis of le trou Normand (“the Norman hole”), where a small drink of Calvados is taken between courses in a long meal. Often it is also geared with apple or pear sorbet, with the purpose of reawakening the appetite and of course the taste buds.
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Along with the excellent wines, mouthwatering cuisine and an array of natural cosmetics, France is extraordinarily famous for its fashion. Fashion in France is an incredibly important aspect of its culture and social life, as well as being an important part of the country’s economy.
Paris, of course, is considered the centre of the fashion industry and continues to hold the title of the global fashion capital. Paris is home to many world famous designers including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Hermes, Celine, and Jean Paul Gautier to name but a few. Additionally, however, many cities around France such as Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lille and Strasbourg also have their own luxury districts and avenues, with smaller but quickly emerging fashion designers come to the fore.
Perhaps some of the most notable French fashion souvenirs are the world famous beret and the mariniere.
The beret is a soft, round, hat that is usually worn as part of a uniform. However, the beret is also a symbol of fashion and culture, particularly playing an important role in the long-standing stereotype of the intellectual individual.
The mariniere, also known as the Breton shirt, is a cotton long-armed shirt with horizontal blue and white stripes. This striped garment has often been used as the stereotypical image of the French person, having become over the years a staple in French fashion.
Art, memorabilia, and everything else
France is a country with a long history of art and culture, with many influential artists such as Manet, Pissarro, and Cezanne all originating from the country. The country is famous for its beautiful nature, and incredible light which has inspired many over the centuries. As such, it comes as no surprise that buying art in France as a souvenir is possibly one of the most wonderful things you can bring back with you. With many makers throughout the country selling their work for completely reasonable prices, you can bring back a small token of your experiences to hang on your wall or to give to a loved one.
Additionally, France is an excellent place to find some unique antiques. Whether you want something small to add a French tone in your abode, or you want to buy a proper piece of furniture there is ample choice in the French cities and villages for this kind of thing.
Finally, as with all countries, France has an abundance of small memorabilia that you can bring back home if you do not want to go on the biggest shopping spree. From Eiffel tower miniatures to magnets, to postcards showcasing the beautiful country and its cities, it is certain that you will find the right souvenir for you, your family and your friends.