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Souvenirs from France
Souvenirs from France can reflect the heart of your vacation, whether it was a romantic honeymoon, artistic retreat or culinary adventure. Fantastically popular, replicas of famous landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triumphe, and the palace of Versaille, can be found in ceramics, plastic or metal representations, as well as on figural key chains and imprinted refrigerator magnets. You can pick these up while visiting the sites themselves, or at any of the markets throughout the lovely French Republic. Speaking of markets, you can find spectacular antiques and reproductions of posters, postcards, maps, stamps and magazines from the last 2 centuries peddled for the collector and the memorabilia seeker. These are ideal for the more intellectually inclined, and certainly distinctive. You may also want to purchase beautiful antique perfume and cosmetic bottles for a vanity table, or to refill with your own products. The possibilities for French souvenirs are endless!
French Fashion and Cosmetics
Known as the world’s fashion capital, French stores have acres of shirts, dresses, scarves, pants, ties, shoes and jewelry. Depending on where you go, you may spend a great deal of money in the upper class boutiques of Louis Vuitton and Dior, or enjoy wandering a flea market for knockoffs and artisan made apparel. Lingerie is another souvenir from France that is a uniquely personal reminder of your vacation. If you are looking for something that everyone will be able to appreciate, head into a local pharmacy and peruse the cosmetic and personal care aisles. You’ll find the designer brands, such as Chanel and Guerlain, selling lipsticks, eye shadow, and moisturizers, including products that won’t be available outside of the country until released months or years later. Less expensive products can also be found, in herbal soaps and shampoos, lush creams to soften rough hands, and richly scented perfumes in elegant packages that will delight any ladies you may need to purchase French souvenirs for.
Culinary Souvenirs from France
Gourmets and gourmands from around the world revere France for its culinary style, vision and dedication. You will not doubt enjoy many fine meals while in country, but why not pick up some treats to enjoy when you return home? A jar of preserved truffle slices to add flair to dinner, tins of pate and foie gras to enjoy on toast, or a package of dried mushrooms will please the palate of you and your loved ones. Packets of genuine herbs d’Provence and Fleur d’Sel, harvested by hand, will certainly delight the amateur and professional chefs in your life, or a shiny copper mold to make mousse in whimsical shapes. A set of blindingly white dinnerware, such as used in the cafes throughout Paris, will make a pleasant reminder of your journey every time you sit down for a meal. Searching for something to please the sweet tooth? Butter caramels from Normandy, Provencal marzipan, and countless examples of chocolates, found in truffles, bars, and candy, are tastily compact to fit in your luggage.
France, Wine and Memorabilia
If you are in search of a more liquid travel memento, you are in luck. France is world renowned for its wine production. Millions of acres of active vineyards produce uniquely nuanced flavors and vintages. You will be invited to taste many of the wines, so it will be more of a matter of personal choice in purchasing bottles. A good rule of thumb is to not purchase anything too cheap, or too expensive, and use toilet paper rolls to protect the bottle necks during travel. Of course, if you purchase in bulk, you can arrange for them to be shipped home. Liquors, many distilled from the grape skins and juices used in wine making, are another item of interest. Souvenir bottles are a lovely option for presents, and you can purchase them in the shape of the Eiffel tower, or choose an artistic glass blown bottle for something more sophisticated.
Artistic French Memories
Artists have flocked to France for hundreds of years to soak up the atmosphere and energy for their work. The country is home to many great works of art in famous museums, such as the Louvre. You can pick up replicas of many paintings plastered on travel mugs, mouse pads, pencils, key chains, magnets, T-shirts and tote bags. Satires of the famous art works are also widely available, and can make an amusing present for an art buff. If you feel inclined to begin your own creative journey, a journal or sketchbook, set of paints or chalk pastels, or watercolors and brushes could be the defining souvenir for your vacation. For those who prefer to simply appreciate art, picking up a sketch of Paris or an oil painting of the Bastille from a starving artist would be a unique gift to yourself and to your home décor, providing a flair that cannot be purchased in the stores.
French Souvenirs for the Home and Outdoors
For those seeking a more hospitable home environment, lace tablecloths and window treatments are an elegant option, as well as hand crocheted tea towels, doilies and shawls to drape over chairs. Roosters are another popular motif in décor, and can be found hand painted onto decorative tiles or in metal statues to place in gardens. You may also wish to purchase seed packets of French herbs to grow in a windowsill pot. Two brands of French pocketknives stand out for their quality and looks: Laguiole, based out of Aveyron, and Opinel from the Savoie. The first, Laguiole, has a distinctive bee forged into the blade, a hallmark of the Emperor Napoleon, and uses horn to produce their handles. Opinels were first designed in the 1890’s by Joseph Opinel in St-Jeanne-de-Maurienne, and feature a latch to keep the blade shut. They are sold by the size, and are ideal souvenirs for the outdoor lover.