When it comes to the question of what to bring home from France, we have you covered with this Paris souvenir guide.
Authentic Paris Souvenirs You'll Want to Bring Home From France
Forget plastic Eiffel Towers and dubious berets. Here, we focus on authentic French souvenirs that your friends and family will actually want to receive. Yes the focus is on Paris souvenirs but I've also included options that cover the whole of France. One more thing. There's no need to buy these as gifts for your loved ones, of course. You could just keep them to yourself...
French Food to Bring Home
Classic French Souvenirs: Macarons
Pastel pretty in pink, lemon, lavender and mint, nothing whispers sweet French chic like a well arranged set of macarons.
Like the shades they come in, they represent Paris at its rose-tinted best, all twinkling lights and dreamy riverside walks, wrapped up in an art deco version of an intoxicating moulin rouge.
- Where to buy them - See the New York Times list to the best macarons in Paris
Unusual French Souvenirs: Quernons d'Ardoise
Quernons d'Ardoise hail from the Anjou region in the Loire. They take their colour from the slate that decorates the castle and their insides from something altogether tastier.
Caramel, Chocolate and Nut
In essence, they're caramelized praline, coated with violet chocolate with chopped almonds and hazelnuts inside.
And they're absolutely gorgeous.
- Where to buy them in Paris -Maison Honoré, 237 rue de Charenton
Pungent, creamy and salty with a sting, this blue cheese can only be made in the caves surrounding Roquefort itself. It's a tricky souvenir to bring home but it's just about possible if it's sealed and your journey is short. A padded cool bag may just help you along.
- Where to buy roquefort in Paris - check out the best cheese shops in Paris.
Basque Peppers from Espelette
It's another niche food entry but the deep red pepper produced in the Basque region of Espelette furnishes a range of delicious (and not so delicious) French souvenirs. Look out for cherry-pepper wine, flavoured jamon, and of course the peppers themselves. As well as tourist paraphernalia in every pepper shape available.
- Where to buy basque pepper products in Paris - La Grand Epicerie Paris
When it comes to chocolate, Paris does not mess around. Critic Mort Rosenblum described Jacques Génin's as "the best chocolatier in the world" and now his creations are available to take home.
- Where to buy chocolate in Paris - the top chocolatiers of Paris
Hot Chocolate and Chestnut Cream
Cafe Angelina has been sweetening the tastebuds of Parisans since 1903. Its signature product, the hot chocolate with chestnut cream, is also available to take home in a gift box set. Visit the Tuileries Cafe Angelina to find star-shaped tins of chocolate caramel and ginger candies too.
- Where to buy - Cafe Angelina, 1st arrondissement
Today's Maille mustard may strut its seeds beneath the Unilever umbrella, but the original Maille mustard first appeared in Paris in 1723, in service to King Louis XV. At the time, mustard was recommended as a treatment for the plague but while that use has faded into the history books, the dijon style of mustard remains.
- Where to shop in Paris and online - gourmet Maille mustard and cornichons
The Best Drinks for Paris Souvenirs
If I'm honest, I'll admit that I don't actually enjoy absinthe. Known as the "green fairy," you buy (and drink) it for its legendary status rather than because anyone actually likes it.
It's supposed to have psychedelic properties and inspired the creatives in fin de siecle Paris into a whirl of Toulouse-Lautrec soaked Moulin Rouge expression.
To most of the rest of us, it simply results in a hangover.
But hey ho. It's up to you!
Bordeaux & St Emilion Reds
Bordeaux and St Emilion are worth visiting for their natural beauty, strong sense of history and, well, wine. Set up some wine tasting sessions in St Emilion and you will be ruined for life.
- Where to taste and buy Bordeaux reds in Paris? La Cave des Galeries
Yes, the region of Champagne in France produces one or two bottles of bubbly that are worth bringing home.
Do we really need to say more on the subject?!
- Where to taste champagne in Paris - La Cave du Senat
Tea may seem a strange souvenir to bring back from France but the experience of shopping at Mariage Frères earns it a place on the list. With loose-leaf smoky tea stored in black and gold tins and ornate lettering, it's like visiting an artist's studio, all decked out in dry leaves.
- Where to shop in Paris - find the closest Mariage Frères store here
Household Goods to Bring Home from France
Glassware from Cafe de Flor
The two main cafes on the corner of Saint Germain entertained all the top poets, philosophers and artists in their day. These days, they'd all be sat at home, sending whatsapp and Facebook messages.
Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots can still offer an atmospheric, erudite experience, as long as you arrive early to beat the crowds.
You can also now bring home Cafe de Flor glassware, to have the spirit of Sartre and Hemingway once you get home.
- Where to buy in Paris - Cafe de Flor Merchandise in Saint Germain and online
Lavender Soap From Provence
Ah, Provence in southern France, where lavender bursts in purple fields and sunshine cares sift through the breeze. You won't find that carefree, relaxed feeling in Paris but you can pick up the soap.
You'll find numerous Occitane en Provence shops across the city centre but for less of a chain feel, head to Le Marais. Look for the deep blue shutters of the soap makers from Marseilles, lathering away here since 1900.
- Where to discover the Provence soap process in Paris - Marius Fabre, 26 rue de Turenne.
Paris Souvenirs as Art
As you might expect with all those world class museums, you can find Paris souvenirs from all your favourite artists by shopping across the city or online. And if it feels a little too embarrassing to be so excited by a museum gift shop, say it in French. Les Boutiques de Musées. There. That sounds better, doesn't it?
Miniature Sculpture of The Kiss
Visit the Rodin Museum to find miniatures of the Kiss, reprints of drawings, stationery and more.
Spanish artist Pablo Picasso spent time in Paris around the time of the second World War and the Picasso Museum justly celebrates his work. You can find Picasso dove tote bags, sketch notebooks and cushion covers at the Boutiques de Musées online store or visit the museum itself.
Art You Can Wear
Find beautiful jewellery in the Louvre Museum Gift shop, along with the expected reproduction art works and a beautiful book shop for both adults and children.
Top Places for Shopping in Paris
Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
As one of Europe's largest flea markets, Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen in the 18th arrondissement gives you plenty of space to rummage for a bargain.
Search for antiques among the Parisian and worldwide restaurants and bring your own cash to avoid queues for the ATM. Use the Garibaldi Metro to avoid the crowds and don't touch anything unless you're ready to haggle. It's one of the few places in Paris where prices aren't fixed.
Boulevard Haussman and the Arcades
Don't miss the covered arcades, which squeeze antique book shops between luxury boutiques and old fashioned toy shops. Galerie Vivienne is one of my favourites.
Broad, tree lined and running straight from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de Concorde, the Champs Élysses is more than just a famous spot. Top designers base their flagship stores here and in parallel Rue St Honoré, with seasonal window displays to make even window shopping worthwhile.
An essential stopping point when shopping for Paris souvenirs, Le Marais winds narrow streets between havens for hand-crafted goods, concept stores and natural beauty products.
Travel Tips for Shopping in Paris
Expect some shops and stores to be closed on Sundays in Paris, although this tradition is starting to change.