Parisian Souvenirs: Unique Gifts and Mementos to Bring Home

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Parisian Souvenirs: Unique Gifts and Mementos to Bring Home

It’s hard to return home from a trip to Paris empty-handed. The city is teeming with unique shops, boutiques, and markets which overflow with quirky curiosities. From honey factories to bustling antique markets, the city has something for everyone. However, if you are feeling stuck on what to bring home, here is a list of my 22 favorite gifts and mementos you can find in Paris.

Gourmet Goods

Pierre Hermé Macarons 

Soft, delicate, and colorful, the humble macaron has become an iconic symbol of France. A trip to Paris would not be complete without paying a visit to a renowned patisserie such as Pierre Hermé to sample this culinary delight. The star pastry chef sources rare and interesting ingredients such as Bombay curry, orange blossom, spices from Ceylon, olive oil from Baux-de-Provence, and jasmine from China. Choose your own flavors or buy a ready-made assortment. 

Polaine Bread 

Apollonia Polaine runs one of the most beloved bakeries in the world. Founded by renowned baker Pierre Poilâne in 1932, the Polaine boulangerie has endured over the years by sticking close to its roots and only using the finest ingredients. Three generations of the Polaine family – Pierre, Lionel, and Apollonia – have followed one another in providing handcrafted breads, sablés, and pastries baked in wood-fired ovens to the people of Paris. Bring back a satisfying loaf of the famously chewy sourdough sold in round, darkly toasted loaves. 

 

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Parisian Honey from Miel Factory 

Surprisingly, Paris has a thriving honey industry. The first bee hives in Paris were established in the Jardin de Luxembourg back in 1856. The rooftops of some of Paris’ legendary landmarks, such as Opera Garnier, Ecole Militaire, and the Musée d’Orsay, have seen the city’s colonies grow since then. La Maison du Miel, the oldest honey producer in Paris, was established in 1898, and a trip to its store on Rue Vignon is definitely worth the visit.  

 

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Artisanal Jam from Confiture Parisienne 

Nestled under an arch in the Viaduc des Arts, this Paris-based artisan has a mission to turn humble jam into a culinary delicacy. By combining eccentric flavors such as carrot and passionfruit, strawberry and tomato, and raspberry and violet, Laura and Nadège create inventive and unexpected concoctions with artisanal expertise. Enhance the experience further by taking part in one of their jam-making workshops and creating a personalized jar of jam. 

Wine from Le Clos Montmartre 

Le Clos Montmartre is a vineyard hidden away in the side lanes behind the Sacré-Coeur. Established in the 12th century and run by the locals, it combines several wine piquettes, such as Le Clos Berthaud, La Goutte d’Or, and Il Piccolo. Originally, the wine was only reserved for the locals, but now there are 1,800 plants in the vineyard and the annual harvest is celebrated by the whole city with La Fête des Vendanges – an event that should not be missed if you happen to be in Paris in October. 

Wine from Le Clos Montmartre, Photo Credit: Paradise Found Around

Angelina Hot Chocolate Mix 

Especially at this time of year, nothing warms up a Parisian more than an indulgent hot chocolate from the famed Angelina’s Cafe. For those who don’t have the fortune of coming to Paris to try this luxury, an Angelina hot chocolate mix will bring them the same joy in the comfort of their own home. 

Decorations and Collectibles

Unique Antiques from a Marché des Puces 

On the weekends in Paris, there are markets on every street corner selling fascinating antiquities and treasures. The largest and most celebrated flea market in the city is the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen. This marché is a sprawling network of over 2000 vendors making it the largest concentration of antique dealers and second-hand dealers in the world. Here you will be sure to find a remarkable memento that no one else will have. My other favorite flea markets in the capital are the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, and Les Puces de Montreuil. 

 

Marché aux Puces, Photo Credit: Pascal POGGI/Flickr

A Small Item from Le Creuset  

In 1925, Le Creuset was the first cookware brand to offer vibrant and stylish enamel-coated cookware in a wide range of colors. Since then, their pots and pans have become faithful companions to chefs in kitchens all over the globe. Perhaps an iconic Le Creuset cast-iron pan may exceed your baggage allowance, however, a smaller item such as a honey pot, espresso mug, or spoon rest would make the perfect souvenir for any chef, whether amateur or professional. 

A Hand Fan from the Moulin Rouge 

The Moulin Rouge, set within the iconic windmill, is best known as the birthplace of the can-can dance. The “dinner show” became one of the most sought-after Parisian attractions and has enabled the cabaret to remain at the height of fame for the past 130 years. Immortalize the experience by purchasing a glamorous hand fan from the official store. 

A Diptyque Candle 

Diptyque was founded in 1961 by interior designer Christiane Gautrot, set designer Yves Coueslant, and artist Desmond Knox-Leet. The very first Diptyque store, located at 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain in the 5th arrondissement, has become a symbol of the brand, with “34 Boulevard Saint-Germain ” being one of their best-selling fragrances. The store has since become synonymous with style and sensational scents, and its candles perfume a room wonderfully, providing an opulent aroma to any space.  

 

 

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Marius Fabre Savon de Marseille 

Marseille Soap, or Savon de Marseille, is often regarded as the highest quality soap in the world. Based in the little town of Salon-de-Provence, Marius Fabre is a well-known savonnerie as it is one of only four savonneries that employ the traditional methods approved by Louis XIV under the “Colbert edict” of 1673. The first “outside the walls” Marius Fabre store debuted in the Marais neighborhood of Paris in 2017 in response to the demand from local and foreign clients seeking authentic Marseille soap. 

Earthenware Plates from Merci 

Although much smaller than the likes of Le Bon Marché and Galeries Lafayette department stores, Merci is my favorite store in Paris. It is an oasis of stylish homeware, clothing, beauty products, stationery, and everything in between. Check out the Parisian-themed earthenware plates if you want the perfect souvenir to funk-ify your table.

 

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Fashion

A Beret 

The beret, an emblematic symbol of the nation of France. The history of these flat, woolen caps is entwined with the history of its country; from Nazi resistance to French haute couture. Those visiting Paris will notice dozens of souvenir shops and market stalls selling inexpensive berets for around six euros, however, the finest berets come from the original producers. Experience the timeless style and unparalleled comfort with a French beret from Laulhère, which is the last production house that manufactures 100% authentic French berets.  

Photo Credit: Gudrun Johnston/Flickr

Shakespeare & Company Tote Bag 

Shakespeare and Company, the charming bookstore on the Left Bank, is perhaps the most famous in the world. It was within the walls of this literary haven that 30,000 writers, artists, and intellectuals such as Lawrence Durrell, T.S. Eliot, Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso have been welcomed since 1951. The shop now functions as a free public reading room, an antiquarian bookseller, and a retailer of new and used books. Manufactured responsibly from organic cotton, their tote bag has become a go-to Parisian souvenir that is as stylish as it is practical and is perfect for transporting your books back to your home country. 

An Item of Clothing from an Esteemed French Brand 

As the fashion capital of the world, Paris has been pivotal in the world of fashion since the first haute couture (“high dressmaking”) house was founded in 1858. As a result, the world’s most esteemed designers are drawn to work here, and many brands operate their headquarters here. Think Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Louboutin, Hermès, Balmain, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermès, Chloé, and Céline, to name a few. An item of clothing from one of these high-end brands would surely be a lavish luxury to bring home, and as an act of temptation, these items are cheaper here in their country of production. Other fabulous French brands such as Maje, Sezane, Rouje, Sandro, and ba$sh, are equally sophisticated brands with less expensive price tags.  

 

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Breton Top (Marinière) 

In the mid-19th century, French Navy sailors wore the iconic Breton Jerseys, a navy and white undershirt with 21 white stripes to protect them from the Atlantic. It was Coco Chanel who brought the marinière from the French coastal towns into the world of high-end fashion in the capital. Now, these tops are essential for all French wardrobes and have become a staple souvenir for tourists visiting the capital. Stores such as Saint James and Armor-Lux are the most famous for these tops, but cheaper alternatives can also be found in supermarkets such as Monoprix. 

Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel poses in a sailor top in the interwar period, Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ballet Flats from Repetto 

Ballet flats have existed in various forms for centuries, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that French dancer Marie Camargo first wore them in a ballet performance. In 1947, French shoemaker Rose Repetto began the process of creating the contemporary ballet flat that is seen today in settings outside of theaters. The Repetto stores across Paris are elegant and magical havens that pay homage to the interlaced history of ballet within French culture. 

 

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Stationery, Books, and Artwork

Vintage books, posters, postcards, and prints from Les Bouquinistes. 

In French, “bouquin” is a colloquial term for a book, and thus the bouquinistes refer to the booksellers who sell antique and second-hand books along the seine, from Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre on the Right Bank, and from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire on the Left Bank. These iconic green stalls line the River Seine and provide a great spot to purchase souvenirs, be that vintage books and posters, postcards, or prints of French pop culture icons such as Tin-Tin, Le Petit Prince, or Le Chat Noir. 

Photo Credit: Les Bouquinistes/Google Image

A portrait from Montmartre’s Place du Tertre 

Walking up the steps of Montmartre’s Escaliers du Calvaire leads you to Place du Tertre, with Tertre meaning “a small hill,” which seems an understatement once you have hiked up to it! Over 150 artists set up their easels on this square each day, and you can watch them at work and even buy their pieces. The portrait artists are particularly skilled, and in under 15 minutes, you will be walking away with an impressive portrait and a delightful memory. Each artist has a unique style, from watercolor to graphite, and from hyper-realistic to abstract. 

Place du Tertre, Photo Credit: d3j4vu/Wikimedia Commons

A book or bookmark from Shakespeare & Company 

As previously mentioned, Shakespeare and Company is a charming bookstore on the left bank and is perhaps the most famous literary haven in the world. A book, or simply a bookmark, from here would provide the perfect souvenir or gift for a loved one.  

A Wax Seal from L’Ecritoire 

L’Ecritoire is a stationery supplier that has been family-run since 1975. The pretty papeterie occupies number 26 on the magical Passage Molière in the Marais district of Paris and offers a wide array of products such as wax seals and stamps, calligraphy pens, notebooks, greeting cards, and paper. This would provide the perfect Parisian memento for any lover of writing. 

Lead photo credit : Parisian souvenirs, Photo Credit: Peggy Marco/Pixabay

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Inspired by the rich culture that France has to offer, Poppy Pearce moved to Paris as an au pair in August 2022. Having gained a degree in Theology and Religion with Arabic from the University of Exeter, Poppy has a passion for languages and experiencing new cultures. When she’s not working, Poppy loves to explore everything that Paris has to offer, from exhibitions and museums, to restaurants and second-hand clothing stores.