Original Souvenirs: Best Take-Home Presents from Paris

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Original Souvenirs: Best Take-Home Presents from Paris

Souvenirs are laden with paradox: for some, they’re an affectionate reminder of a place worth remembering. The cynics among us will see their value as tokenistic – an object which could never supersede our own priceless memories. Collectors will hoard them as though they’re trophies of their worldliness; minimalists will see them as superfluous. Whatever your take on the traveler’s trinket, metropolitan memorabilia don’t have to be tacky, as long as you’re looking beyond the stereotypes of a place. Here are my top recommendations for Paris’s most elegant kind of take-home present.

Marin Montagut

48 rue Madame, 6th

Toulouse-born illustrator, antique dealer and designer Marin Montagut has an exceptional eye for detail and a strong affinity with Paris. A keen collector, Marin is always on the hunt for trinkets consigned to the past for which he can furnish a future. He creates handmade souvenirs and collectibles which celebrate the idiosyncrasies of the City of Light – a place where he always hoped that one day, he might live. Each postcard, notebook, plate and candle are handmade in his atelier in Montmartre and displayed in recycled grocery store shelving in his whimsical workshop-turned-boutique. Those who have frequented the Jardin du Luxembourg will be familiar with the green shade of the boutique’s façade – a nod to the curved green Sénat chairs which date back to 1923, synonymous with Paris’s green spaces.

His recent collaboration with the Café de Flore, one of Paris’s most distinguished coffee houses, was an homage to one of his most cherished Parisian institutions. Featuring a teapot, a tea towel and a limited-edition notebook with the café’s menu at the back, the collection is a marker of his success in becoming one of the capital city’s household names: no mean feat for someone who originally comes from the South. And his enthusiasm is palatable. Even if you’re not a souvenir lover, allow yourself to indulge in some lèche-vitrine – this is a veritable treasure trove.

 

La Chambre aux Confitures

9 rue des Martyrs, 9th
9 rue des Petits Carreaux, 2nd
20 rue de Buci, 6th
60 rue Vieille du Temple, 3rd

Living on the gourmand rue des Martyrs introduced me to this elegant confectionary emporium. The interior is beautifully arranged with typical French flair and enough iterations of confiture to keep you coming back several times over. The preparation takes place in the northern French region of Hauts-de-France where there are seasonal fruits aplenty and an array of regional ingredients to incorporate into their recipes.

And their flavors are both traditional and unorthodox. Try the tart framboises pétals de rose or the sweet abricot et lavande for something authentic or give the pomme caramel beurre salé or the pêche blanche citronelle a go for something less predictable. If you’re indecisive, the coffret of flavors will offer a preserve for every mood. More of a savory person? The foie gras accompaniments contain the Sauternes Confit, as well as Onion Truffle, Fig and Mango chutneys.

Their philosophy of confiturology sees the jam craft as an intense sensory experience – from its shiny surface to the sharpness of the flavor. Their serving suggestion is to spread your chosen flavor on a buttery sablé biscuit and savor the marriage of flavors.

 

Edwart Chocolatier

244 rue de Rivoli, 1st

This delectable chocolate atelier which opened in 2014 produces handmade artisanal chocolates themed around the capital’s various festivities. Opt for the uncanny Casse-Noisette at Christmas or a poussin de Pâques at Easter or go for the chocolate bar filled with luxury Iranian pistachios for a more traditional recipe. The dedicated maîtres chocolatiers have scoped out unusual and luxurious ingredients from all over the world including Bouye from the baobab tree, Tasmanian pepper from a shrub native to Australia, and combava bark from a citrus fruit grown on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa.

For the full chocolate experience, they also offer private chocolate making workshops with professional chocolatiers so you can learn the skills for yourself and take them back home – a souvenir which ages more gently. Edwart Chocolatier’s gifts make an indulgent treat which will remind you of the city where food is sacrosanct, and its preparation savored.

 

La Maison du Miel

24 rue Vignon, 9th

Looking for a take home present which is fabriqué à Paris? La Maison du Miel is Paris’s oldest honey establishment, founded in 1898, and it allows you to remember Paris’s idiosyncratic quartiers through gustatory means. In the French capital, honey has been quietly harvested in beehives from the tops of some of the capital’s most notable buildings ever since the Haussmannian urbanization program. Urban beekeepers, or apiculteurs, can be found in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which housed Paris’s first bee colonies in 1856, the Opéra Garnier, École Militaire, Grand Palais and the Musée d’Orsay.

Altogether, rooftops, balconies and terraces house over 700 hives which have contributed to the buoyant culture of beekeeping. The sweetness of Paris-produced honey is thanks largely to its diversity of flower and fauna which yields a particularly fragrant flavor. So, when you taste the nectar, you’ll know that this is the authentic culmination of Paris’s biodiverse skyline.

Miel Factory

28 rue de Sévigné, 4th

The Miel Factory is a more contemporary honey emporium located in the refined Marais district, which offers a diverse selection of honeys produced in the capital and beyond. Their Miel de Paris was harvested in the bucolic Bois de Vincennes, the capital’s first green space built under Napoleon III – who adopted the bee as the emblem of the Napoleonic era. The stylish cave à miel works with the association Terre d’abeilles, which protects wild pollinating insects and guarantees harmony between mankind and the bee population – a species endangered by increasing industrialization and use of pesticides.

 

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Claudia lived in Paris for six months during a year abroad which she did as part of her French and Spanish degree at Durham University. With a penchant for all things culture, languages, food and flânerie, she quickly discovered why it is that the French capital is so widely celebrated. While she was in Paris, she started writing for Ma Vie Francaise, an online-based publication about Francophone cultures. After completing an MA in Newspaper Journalism at City, University of London last year, she’s currently working as an editorial intern at Monocle Magazine, a globally-minded publication which focuses on culture, urbanism and business. Her favorite Parisian hidden gem is the Musée de la Vie Romantique, and if you’re a gourmand(e), she recommends paying a visit to the Rue des Martyrs.