Five Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5

March 25, 2013

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Text and images by Gabrielle.

We’ve been lucky to have lots of visitors since we moved here — it’s so helpful for keeping homesickness at bay, especially for the kids. One topic that comes up whenever friends and family are in town is souvenirs.

Plane tickets, car rentals, hotels and train passes tend to eat up most of the travel budget, so visitors love ideas for gifts to bring home to friends and family that won’t break the bank. But they want something more unusual than an Eiffel Tower key chain.

5 Fabulous French Souvenirs under 5 bucks.

So I’ve made notes over the last couple of years, and have figured out a bunch of fabulous souvenirs you can find in any French supermarket. All of them are non-perishable (in case you’re jaunting to London after your trip to France), and every one of them is bargain. Today I’m sharing 5 of my favorites. Maybe they’ll inspire you to book a flight to Paris!

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

First up, go directly to the spice aisle and pick up a big bag of famed French Sea Salt. When Ben Blair and I took the cooking class in Louviers, the chef gave this advice: if you buy one foodie item in France to bring home, make sure it’s salt! And she also said the best stuff was the greyish sort from the Brittany region (Bretagne in French). You can see above that this package indicates Bretagne as the source.

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

If you don’t want to repackage it, you’ll find salt in gift packages ready to go, but a far more economical plan (and I think a more charming one as well), is to buy the salt in a bulk bag and repackage it in ceramic yogurt jars when you get home.

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

I’ve mentioned these beautiful yogurt jars before. They come in different colors and sizes. Some have words imprinted on the side and others are blank. We use them for all sorts of things — cups, pencil jars, water jars for dipping paint brushes. You can even bake in them! They make great souvenirs as a set (for example a set of 6 for your favorite baker), or, if you don’t have room to carry home a dozen, fill them with salt for an individual gift.

The best part: you get to eat the yogurt during your trip so you can bring home the empty jars. : )

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

Fill up a jar with the gourmet, greyish salt, put the jar in a cellophane bag, and add a bow.

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

A bag of salt costs about $1, and will fill about 4 jars depending on their size. Bargain!

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

Next up is something for the kids. Check out the kiddie aisle and pick up a pack of toy Euros.

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

American kids will be fascinated by the colorful bills that come in different sizes. Such a change from U.S. dollars! Your kids can use them when they are pretending to be spending the afternoon at a Parisian café. And since you’ll be using Euros while you’re on the trip, they’ll be fun little reminders for you, too.

This pack was priced at about $2.50. (Fun fact: Oscar and Betty are more familiar with Euros than Dollars. We’ll need to make sure they learn what nickels, dimes and quarters are before they go to American schools next fall. Hah!)

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

This one might be my favorite. Stop in the cleaning aisle and pick up these traditional French cleaning cloths. They come in several styles, but you’ll recognize them because they consistently have red and blue stripes down the sides.

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

They actually come as two cloths connected together. (See that fuzzy line in the threads that crosses the colored lines? It’s meant to be cut, dividing the very large cloth into 2 regular size versions.)

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

They’re super thick and crazy absorbent. We like them for heavy duty jobs and washing the car. One cloth (which is actually two cloths) runs about $3.50.

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

Or, how about a block of famed French Laundry Soap? The French are very particular about their soap and you can expect the quality to be high. Instead of the bath aisle, you’ll find blocks of soap like these near the laundry detergent.

Five Fabulous French Souvenirs under $5Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

When you get home, ditch the store packaging and wrap the bar with cellophane. Add a bow and you’re all set. At the supermarket, one big bar of laundry soap costs about $2.50. Or sometimes I find a package of 3 cubes for about $3.00.

(Another side note: When I was a newlywed, my mother gave me a block of soap just like this — including the French flag ribbon — that she had found at a gift shop — or maybe TJ Maxx. : ) I loved it! It sat on our windowsill for about a year, because I felt it was too pretty to use. But when I finally opened it, it was my favorite for handwashing my delicates. In case you’re curious, I picked up the ribbon shown here at Michaels.)

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

Lastly, here’s another one for kids. In the school supply aisle, you’ll find small, rounded corner, two-sided chalkboards. French kids use them in school to practice their script. One side is plain and the other is covered in graph lines. Aren’t they cute?

Five Affordable Souvenirs to Bring Home from your Trip to France.

If you wanted, you could plus it up by adding a little cord for hanging, but they’re just as cute the way they come.

And there you go. Five ideas for fabulous French souvenirs under five dollars. I’d love to hear what you think. I actually have another five ideas to share if you’re interested — let me know if this is helpful!

P.S. — If you have a bigger souvenir budget, might I suggest something lovely from a French pharmacy?

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{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sonel March 25, 2013 at 11:20 am

LOVE this post! What great ideas! It always seems to be the little things that make the best souvenirs. My uncle recently came back from London with a cheap bib from Harrod’s for my 18 month old son. It’s oilcloth with teddy bears and Harrod’s printed all over it. Such a silly thing to love, but love it we do! It’s always fun to find things that just aren’t available in the States.

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2 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 2:27 pm

It’s hard not to love anything from Harrods!

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3 Lena March 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

I love the yogurt jars. What a brilliant idea! I have an interesting observation for you:) When we lived in Europe and visited France, I could not believe how cheap is Sophie the Giraffe! Here in the US it’s almost $25 and french drugstores sell this toys for 6 Euros!:) It might be a nice present for a family with small kids, since it’s so popular and babies love it!

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4 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 2:28 pm

You’re right! Sophie is so common here. I should bring home a suitcase full when we move back. : )

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5 Amy3 March 25, 2013 at 11:26 am

I love these ideas! Easy and fun. Please, share the others you have!

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6 Nina von Butterzart March 25, 2013 at 11:31 am

You forgot these wonderful LE PETIT MARSEILIAIS Shower gel and shampoo with the litte sailor boy on it. It’s wonderful!

Bye,

Nina

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7 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Thanks for mentioning them, Nina! We’ve got Le Petit Marseilais shampooing and apres-shampooing in our shower right this minute. Great stuff.

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8 sarah March 25, 2013 at 11:34 am

i want so badly to get my hands on some of those yogurt jars. are you up for shipping them to the states??

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9 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I’m afraid mine get grabbed up by visitors before I ever get a chance to ship them. But it seems like there would be an enterprising French/American that would stock them in an etsy shop. I’ve never actually done a search — maybe there is.

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10 Amorette April 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I have and there isn’t one!

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11 Leafynell March 25, 2013 at 10:54 pm

If you’re visiting San Francisco, you can pick up French yogurt jars at Cowgirl Creamery in the ferry building!

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12 Julie March 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm

As a Frenchwoman with parents living in the US, you have totally nailed this list as they are also staple little items for French expats living abroad, especially the seal salt and soaps. These are always requested to be in my suitcase.
On a different note, these yogurt jars can be found sometimes on “leboncoin.fr” (our French eBay, very popular in France) for 25 jars as little as 6 euros ($8) :)

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13 Julie March 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm
14 Christel June 6, 2013 at 2:39 am

Sarah,
I have several in my cellar if you’re interested!

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15 Lisette Wolter-McKinley March 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

Inexpensive souvenirs are the best. Then you can buy plenty and share with all your friends.

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16 Margaret March 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

What great ideas! I always say that the best souvenirs (or party favors, or what have you) are ones that are meant to be used, and used up — specifically so you can avoid that problem of what to do with a tiny Eiffel tower that just…sits there. Forever. The trinkets marketed at tourists never seem to have much to do with the place itself, either; I’m always more drawn to the things that you’d see the residents themselves using. But it never would have occurred to me to check the grocery store! If someone presented me with one of those little yogurt pots of salt, I would be over the moon. Thanks so much for sharing — and please do share more!

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17 steph t. March 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

fantastique!!!!
i love this post!
so great for travel for anywhere.
merci gabrielle!! xoxo

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18 Audrey March 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Hi Gabrielle! I think this is such an awesome post! We used to live in Switzerland and, after grocery shopping there for some time, I realized there were so many small, inexpensive things that other friends (in the US) would appreciate. We did a lot of repackaging and gifting just like this. So I love seeing a French version! Please show us your other ideas. The next time we’re in Paris (never soon enough!), we may just use your “secrets”. Thanks for sharing ~ so fun!

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19 Kim March 25, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Audrey,

We just moved to Swirzerland a few weeks ago. Please, pretty please will you share the souvenirs you liked best?

And, Gabrielle -
Thank you for this list! It is brilliant. We will be in Paris in late April during school holiday and I will be hunting down each and every one of these items. :)

By the way, are you still in love with that VW Eurovan? We have 4 kids so if this experience turns into a forever-stay, we will be considering a van purchase. Would love your opinion!

Warmly,
Kim

http://swissamericanlife.wordpress.com

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20 Melodie K. March 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Thanx, Gabrielle ~

Your post could not have come at a better time since I’m prepping for late spring/early summer trip to France.

I aim to return home with the salt, cleaning cloths, and laundry soap, both to give and to keep. With some yogurt jars to boot!

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21 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Yay! Have so much fun. And if you can find a big Carreforre be sure to go in. They are my favorite of the supermarchés in France.

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22 melissa walsh March 25, 2013 at 4:28 pm

When I was a child, there was a Carreforre here in the United States, just outside of Philadelphia! We used to go there as a family to shop once a week and it was always quite an adventure. They had a strawberry pie that we loved!

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23 Tracy March 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Yes, more of your ideas for inexpensive souvenirs, please!

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24 Lucy Mitchell March 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm

This list is perfect. I was in France recently, in a tiny alpine village, with no transport to the bigger shops. Although the object of the trip was to ski, for me a holiday is not a holiday without a browse around the shops. So I headed to the tiny supermarket in the village and got some soaps. Now I have a huge one by the kitchen sink and LOVE it. French soap is the best. I wish I’d known about the salt and the little blackboards though! They would be great for long journeys.

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25 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I’m the same way, Lucy. A trip to a new country just isn’t complete for me until I’ve visited a grocery store or a hardware store — that sort of thing. I feel like they give such a good sense about what makes that country unique, and they offer a really clear window into food and culture.

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26 Jen @ RamblingRenovators March 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Such a great roundup of unique and thoughtful souvenirs. We brought back Fleur De Sel and some Mariages Freres teas when we were last in Paris as gifts but I wish I had seen those dish cloths and yogurt jars. So sweet!

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27 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity March 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Great suggestions. I bought (and ate) three of the yogurts in the little periwinkle jars when we were in France and brought them home. I use them as mini vases for flowers. I so wish I had seen the red ones – I guess I need to go back.

I would love to see a post on the other side of the topic – what to take as gifts to someone living in France. We visit our friends in Normandy every year or so (and send them presents at Christmas) and it is tough to think of original Canadian/North American gifts. We have done a lot of maple products, but we might have exhausted that idea ;)

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28 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 2:37 pm

The red ones only come out at Christmas — I’m sure that’s why you missed them. But the offerings seem to change pretty regularly. On Friday, I saw some bright green ones! They were flavored apple-kiwi. Yum.

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29 Grace @ sense and simplicity March 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm

You will all have to indulge in some apple-kiwi yogurt so we can see the cute green yogurt jars. Wouldn’t they be pretty on the table at St. Patrick’s day.

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30 Ma March 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

This does inspire me to book a trip to Paris! I can’t wait to show the kids the world. :)

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31 Kate The Great March 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm

This is gorgeous and funny– I’m sure French people are laughing at Americans right now. “They buy soap and slateboards and yogurt and towels for souvenirs? Ha!” I know I’d feel the same way if I knew people were buying American Pyrex and mops and cheese and…

Well, I guess I’d think it was funny because there are lots of things we don’t make ourselves. We ship them in from other countries. But now that I think about it, tourists go to the Tillamook cheese factory and buy cheese to ship home with them– and they sell the same cheese in grocery stores throughout the state. In, fact, I just finished with a cup of Tillamook yogurt– and I’m really proud that it was made here in my state.

Gabby, you’re so brilliant that I don’t even stop to think about it anymore. :D

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32 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Kate, that is exactly what happened. Hah! I was taking photos of all this stuff, and our friend, Severin, who helps me take care of the house, was vacuuming while simultaneously watching me. She kept looking at me like I was absolutely insane. Why in the world was I putting ribbons on cleaning cloths?

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33 april March 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Yes! I hope I make it back to France someday and I would love to have more of these affordable ideas. Even if I don’t make it back I love this kind of post! Awesome!

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34 Amorette March 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm

THANK YOU!!!!!! I’m headed to Paris on April 17th to celebrate my big 4-0! I’ve been reading your blog forever and am finally going to be able to see some of the things you write about! I’m very nervous about not speaking French but I still can’t wait!!!

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35 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Best birthday celebration ever! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time. Be prepared to be blown away by the Eiffel Tower. It makes my heart stop every single time I see it.

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36 Geevz March 25, 2013 at 3:14 pm

This may be one of my favorite France posts so far. Genius, beautiful, and cheap! I think the toy money could be a fun thing to collect from every country you visit.

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37 Petra March 25, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I love all those ideas, please do share the rest! Amazing how vintagey they all feel – the cloths, the beautiful, stamped soap blocks, and those darling chalkboards – they are my favourite! Amazing that they use them in school – love!

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38 Elizabeth T. March 25, 2013 at 3:29 pm

yes! Other great inexpensive souvenirs and gifts you can find in a big grocery, department store or Monoprix include chocolate bars, unusual mustards, jars of Herbes de Provence, tins of foie gras, honey, Clairefontaine notebooks and stationery (I love the Pollen correspondence cards), little espresso cups and spoons, oval gratin dishes, cheese knives, Duralex glasses in all sizes, cafe au lait bowls, change purses, tins for storing rice/pasta/other kitchen staples, colorful toothbrushes…

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39 julia [life on churchill] March 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm

This is a lovely roundup! The chalkboards are especially cute.

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40 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I think so too! I like having a few around the house. They come in handy and they look charming.

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41 Lindsay March 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Love this post. I am constantly adding to my list of things I find here in Qatar (that are affordable) to take back. Not much is actually made here, since nearly everything is imported, but I have found a few gems that have been a big hit back in the US.

It is entertaining to see what different interest cultures have and take back home. Electronics seem to be something that nearly every Southeast Asian wants to take home, but as an American, I can get a MUCH better selectiona nd price back in the US. I see a lot of cheap chocolate (we aren’t even talking good European chocolate) and soap stocked up. The soap does have glitter in it, but I would prefer the French version any day.

I would love to see the extended list, and I wouldn’t mind eating some of that yogurt, let alone ending up with a beautiful little jar.

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42 Jeanne April 28, 2013 at 12:18 am

Hi Lindsay,
I’m also an American in Qatar and I would love to know what kind of gifts you have found here to take home with you to the US. If you don’t mind sharing gift ideas, I would love to add something creative to the usual box of dates and spices. Thanks!!

Gabrielle,
I’ll be in Paris next month and I’ll definitely be shopping for your clever gift ideas. Merci!!

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43 Lindsay July 6, 2013 at 3:53 am

Sorry I just read your reply to my post, Jeanne, and if you are like a lot of Americans in the Middle East, you may be gone for the summer. I am still here. Ideas of things to bring from Qatar/Middle East: everyone who comes over gets a pashmina to combat the cold from the A/C and they always want more to take back home (the cheap ones from the souq). They are also nice to wrap around gifts instead of wrapping them up. I have also taken arabic candies, dates (including the ones covered in chocolate or stuffed with nuts), date syrup, frankensence and myrrh (I buy some and then buy little wooden carved boxes and put a few “rocks” of each in the box. It is a favorite Christmas gift and is super inexpensive). The duty-free at the airport has camel milk chocolate as does the Kempinski Gourmet House. The chocolates are expensive, so we buy the larger box (18 pralines in a wooden box) of camel shaped pralines and then wrap a couple separately for each person we are giving them to. You also end up with a really cool box to put something in for someone else. Honey is another great gift. We get ours from a Yemeni guy at the souq, too. I like honey in general, so that is always a hit gift from anywhere in the world. I would love to see what people like to take back/receive from different countries. If you are an expat, where are you from and what do you miss?

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44 Lindsay July 6, 2013 at 3:55 am

One more thing, we buy these flat Yemeni baskets that we give to people for a bread basket. They are about 20-30 QR ($5-8) and add an inexpensive cloth napkin. If I am really with it, I get someone’s family name embroidered in Arabic at a tailor/embroiderer.

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45 Lisa in Monaco March 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Great post!! My sister and her husband are chefs in New Jersey and they LOVE when I bring the amazing French sea salt back with me when I go to USA for a visit (I also live in France/Monaco)…the large bags get a little heavy in my luggage though…but this gives me more room for shopping in the USA! I also love those yogurt pots, can never bring myself to throw them out.

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46 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Monaco! Ben Blair and I have tentative plans for a weekend away from the kids in Monaco in June. It’s still months away, but sometimes I think about it longingly already. Do you think June will be warm in Monaco? Last year, June was still quite cold her in Normandy. We didn’t warm up until we visited the U.S. in July. : )

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47 Lisa in Monaco March 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm

oh fun, good for you for a get-away weekend!! Is it your first time to Monaco? Yes, for sure June will be warm. Although this has been a strange year for weather, still snowing in the ski mountains in Italy and France around here. Let me know if I can help you in any way. I guess you can see my email address on the blog comments somewhere?

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48 sarah March 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

What a fun and darling post! I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, too … make me feel all swoony and nostalgic for my time spent living in France.

A couple I would add:

- the clear glass dessert (pot de crème and such) dessert pots – eat the yummy pudding or treat first, and then bring them home – I use them as ramekins, jam dishes, even candle holders!

- the adorable little footed cereal bowls that are so hard to find this side of the ocean

- I loved that the French seemed to love pens and other writing materials, and my local papeterie had the sweetest things for not super expensive

- I sort of collect errant cutlery, and though it’s more common here now, I loved the clear resin or acrylic-handled (all multicoloured) silverware

- when I’m travelling I often look for chewing gum or sweets … things available in France would be anything lavender-, organge- or violet-flavoured, like Mme Flavigny’s violet sweets come in a cute little tin

Thank you again for this post!

- sarah in Canada

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49 sarah March 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Dear me. You’ve never know English is my first language due to all my typos! Please chalk it up to excitement at the thought of wee puddings!
- sarah

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50 Nicola March 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Love all these ideas. The toy money is my favorite. My daughter got to harvest salt from Brittany herself last year when she was there on a field trip. She was so proud to bring it back and it is the most useful and precious souvenir I have. My go to French supermarket souvenirs are the reusable grocery bags. Our local SuperU has very stylish black and white ones with the Eiffel Tower on them for less than a Euro. Everyone loves them!

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51 Lisa in Monaco March 27, 2013 at 5:36 am

What a great idea about the large grocery bags, some of the artwork and designs are amazing!! I never thought about this. Thanks Nicola.

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52 Denise Laborde March 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

When we lived in Toulouse, “papier d’Armenie,” and mustard were other big favorites that we would bring on trips to the states. Oh, Le Petite Marseilliais liquid bath soap in Verveine Citron was also a big hit. I’d take salt back too but never thought to present it as nicely as you did above. Hope I remember for next time!

Great list.

Bises, Denise

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53 Jen March 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm

What wonderful ideas! I always like to buy local consumables for friends and family when we travel (spices, candies, coffee, etc). So much of the price is in the packaging, so I love these tips. I don’t know why I never thought to repackage purchases! This will definitely change our shopping strategy on our next trip!

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54 Nina March 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

What a wonderful post and lots of great ideas! As an European myself, have to get some toy Euros from our next trip to bring back to my son’s friends back home in the US.

Keeping with the theme, what “souvenirs” would you bring from the US to your French friends?

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55 Design Mom March 26, 2013 at 5:22 am

Great idea for a post, Nina! Perhaps I’ll tackle it when I get back to the States.

When we lived in Colorado and had visitors, I loved putting together welcome baskets with local goodies. Izze sodas are made in Colorado, and my favorite cinnamon rolls: Duffeyrolls!

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56 Amy March 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I was just thinking I would LOVE a post like that. I have a French pen pal, and I wanted to send her a care package of things American things. A people magazine, etc. I was trying to think of food items but drawing a blank. Someone once said peanut butter. Ideas?

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57 Lindsay March 26, 2013 at 10:17 am

I had the same question. I wonder what it is that people from other countries are most interested in receiving from the US or bringing back from their travels.

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58 France in France March 27, 2013 at 5:58 am

As a Frenchwoman now back in France after years in the US, I’d beg for Reeses Peanut Butter Cups:-)

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59 Anne March 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Yes, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups! And Wintergreen Tic-Tacs (they don’t sell that flavor in Switzerland and a couple of my friends love-love-love it). And for little kids: All the cute band-aids with Snoopy, Curious George, Big Bird and Co.

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60 Heather HS April 2, 2013 at 11:29 am

Pancake mix and maple syrup – it’s much less common in France!

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61 Suzanne March 25, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Gabrielle,

How I wish I had seen some of these posts earlier this year! Guess what my son brought us home from France? Little Eiffel Towers. If only I had known what I wanted! He did bring home some fabulous French clothes, for himself! LOL! Hoping to visit France next year though and then I will get these darling souvenirs for myself!

Suzanne

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62 Design Mom March 26, 2013 at 5:21 am

I should be more careful not to disparage Eiffel Tower keychains. We had at least a dozen! They come in handy and they do feel oh-so-French (though I image they’re made in China).

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63 Shannon { A Mom's Year } March 26, 2013 at 7:54 am

I have a little Eiffel Tower keychain that a friend brought me as a souvenir from her trip to Paris. I love it because it reminds me to stay focused and work hard so I can go to France, too, some day! :)

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64 France in France March 27, 2013 at 6:00 am

I bought a dozen of them and hang them up on my Christmas tree.

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65 Lisa Taylor Whitley March 25, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Very interested in the next 5 suggestions. Please share!

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66 Lina March 25, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Great ideas! Inspires me to travel just so I can look for gifts that are unique to a place! So much more authentic and interesting than typical souvineers! Yes, please.. more ideas!

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67 Suzanne March 25, 2013 at 7:25 pm

This is a wonderful list, Gabrielle, and perfect timing for me as my family and I plan to spend the month of June in Paris. In past visits, I’ve gone the route of soap and chocolate but these ideas are so much better and easier on the budget (leaving more precious euros for my daily fromage addiction!). I’d love to hear of your additional gift ideas. Thank you so much.
Suzanne

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68 jodi March 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I will be in Paris in July and am looking forward to finding some practical little things. Some of my best finds were in German flea markets. We bought a huge china turkey platter in Berlin for about 6 euros and got it home in one piece. I like to collect buttons and my husband likes to find children’s books that help him with his German.

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69 Lindsay July 6, 2013 at 3:58 am

I love the Berlin Flohmarkt and all the fun vintage-y items you can find there.

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70 Katy March 25, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Love going to the grocery store when traveling! Great suggestions!

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71 Laura Lee March 25, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Years ago I bought honey from each country I went to. It did get heavy but it was fun to compare the flavors when I got back to the US. Luckily, none broke on the journey back.

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72 Danielle March 25, 2013 at 8:48 pm

What wonderful ideas – thanks so much for sharing! I can never get enough of your ‘French life’ posts and will miss them so much when your family moves!

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73 Design Mom March 26, 2013 at 5:19 am

You might be in luck, Danielle. If our cottage purchase goes through (all signs point to yes!), we’ll be spending lots of time here as we fix it up so that it’s inhabitable. It’s very possible there will be French posts for a long time still. : )

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74 Christy March 25, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Great post! We just returned from a few months in Paris and I had to bring home the yogurt pots! They are the best gift and each person was incredibly appreciative.
We also brought home liquid hand soap and the Le Petit Marseillais lotion.
Can’t wait to return soon for the salt and chalk boards.

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75 Jenny March 25, 2013 at 9:44 pm

French salt is my favorite! I am nearing the bottom of the little pot I got in Provence last year. I guess it’s time to plan another trip!

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76 Mandy March 26, 2013 at 1:04 am

Those are great souvenirs! Whenever we had to France, I like to stop at Carre Four and stock up on Petit Bateau clothes for my nieces and nephews. There underwear and onesies are always so cute and very affordable at Carre Four. And of course tons of chocolate bars! I also always come home with Kinder Eggs for everyone (I’m living in Germany), although I believe it isn’t legal because the toys are too small. So ridiculous.

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77 Design Mom March 26, 2013 at 5:18 am

We buy our Petit Bateau staples at Carrefour, too! Their undershirts last forever.

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78 kimberleae March 26, 2013 at 2:09 am

What fabulous suggestions. Thanks Gabrielle!

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79 Marta Abilingualbaby March 26, 2013 at 3:10 am

I love the idea of buying salt! It’s perfect to cook fish! In France, I always buy cheese and wine. I also love cookies from la Bretagne. We have big French supermarkets here in Barcelona, so we have many French products, but I love buying simple things, for example, pencil cases or notebooks, so that these things become part of ordinary (but beautiful) life.

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80 Barbara March 26, 2013 at 4:40 am

As a fan of your blog and a skin cream “addict” I love the beauty products you have mentioned in the blog. I bought the Nuxe oil for my skin and love it. I got it through Amazon but lo and behold when I was in Toronto the whole range of products (I mean three full shelves) was at my daughter’s local Shopper Drug Mart pharmacy, right by St Lawrence Market. I continue to use their products every day and say thank you Design Mom for guiding me to this great product. Maybe some perfumes from France would be a special treat to bring back, or as my Dad did after the Second World War a piece of lace or special fabric.

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81 Design Mom March 26, 2013 at 5:16 am

I count myself a Nuxe fan as well. Their products smell soooo good. How great that you found the whole line in Toronto!

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82 Age Spots March 26, 2013 at 4:51 am

I have only one thing to say about those souvenirs – superbly cute! I love their uniqueness and how these are remarkably affordable. Thanks for the wonderful ideas.

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83 Liz Brown March 26, 2013 at 5:46 am

Thank you for a great list! I would love to see some more ideas! My husband and I are taking a trip to Paris the first week of May for our anniversary. I’m so excited! I would love to hear more souvenir ideas and absolute must sees. I’ve enjoyed your posts about visiting Paris, as well as your sister Jordan’s. very helpful!

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84 Kelly Crawford March 26, 2013 at 8:38 am

These are fabulous ideas! I have those yogurt pots coming out my eyes ha! They are just to cute to toss though right? And I never would have thought to use the little chalkboards the boys use for penmanship for gifts! I may or may have been known to freeze one of the giant blocks of Sel De Mar butter for friends as well ha! Though not the best item for your checked bag if it gets lost. Non perishable is much safer :) We have non stop guest from now until June and I am definitely going to be taking them to Carrefore instead of Trocadero from now on. Thanks!

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85 Design Mom March 27, 2013 at 6:17 am

Those yogurt cups! We currently have a huge stockpile because we have lots of visitors coming this month and those cups are always a favorite for bringing home.

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86 Kelly Harp March 26, 2013 at 9:33 am

Such GREAT ideas! My sister just left Paris – darn! :). Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoy your blog.

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87 Lori March 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

Lovely ideas. I’ve always been sorry I didn’t buy the play euros when we were in europe several years ago.

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88 Kristy March 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm

We are coming to Paris next week and this is SO helpful! Keep them coming, please!

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89 Caitlin in MD March 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm

This is AWESOME. I just bookmarked it even though I have no plans to travel to France (or anywhere abroad) anytime soon :) You never know!

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90 Design Mom March 27, 2013 at 6:18 am

I like the way you think, Caitlin. : )

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91 Amy March 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

We always brought back chocolate for friends! Even the non-fancy kinds — my kid swore that European kit kats tasted better than US ones!

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92 Regina March 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm

I agree! Nestle Crunch from Switzerland is the best! Must be the swiss chocolate :)

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93 Regina March 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Now THIS makes me want to visit Paris! I love shopping for souvenirs and I agree that a visit to the grocery store completes a trip. I brought home lots of cute little bottles of mustard — my mind was blown by the variety — and homemade jams too (artisan jams weren’t that widely available where I live). Thanks for the great post. :)

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94 Tonja March 27, 2013 at 12:12 am

I echo everyone else – great post and I’d live to see your next 5 ideas!

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95 DeeDee March 27, 2013 at 1:19 am

Merci beaucoup! We are in Paris right now. I opened your site to remember to show my nearly 8 year old son (when he wakes up) your Easter Egg Hunt post from last year. At the moment it is very cold, and the grass area around la tour Eiffel is still fenced off. So on Sunday we will improvise with something else as memorable in the 7th arrondissement… He is in a French Immersion school in the US with 26 other classmates, so we have been on a cool souvenir hunt. Class-wise the keychains have been done…and magnets…we saw an Eiffel Tower with a spinning top on bottom and paused, but passed. Please post your other ideas! Love the Euro play money. Will seek it out. Brilliant idea (as usual) from you.

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96 Clare March 27, 2013 at 6:04 am

Hi Gabrielle,

Just wondering on a source for your lovely natural cotton plied string? I have had trouble finding just such string! You find the most beautiful things! Cheers, Clare.

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97 Design Mom March 27, 2013 at 6:20 am

Hi Clare! The lovely cotton twine is another French grocery store find. From the hardware aisle. They have the best selection of twines and strings! It’s one of those things I’d love to bring home a suitcase full of. It doesn’t feel particularly French to me, so I didn’t include it as a souvenir, but it would be a fun gift for sure!

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98 Bea March 27, 2013 at 6:37 am

Hello,
I began to read your blog because I wanted to practice my English (I’m spanish). And now I’m addicted!!
Yes, I’m interested in another five ideas.
Thanks (and sorry for the mistakes I could have done)

Bea

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99 Gry Salling Larsen March 28, 2013 at 8:11 am

Great ideas! Like the tricolor ribbon.

I always buy this soap when in France http://www.nouvelle-epicerie.fr/fr/savon/2782-le-petit-marseillais-savon-verveine-citron-200g.html

And tisane with either Tilleul or Vervaine.

And of cause legendary Petit Bateau t shirts – dont be fooled by this sizes – just try it on. I still take size 19 even if i’m 42 ;-)

- and lots of other things.

Gry

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100 Gry Salling Larsen March 28, 2013 at 8:14 am

And how could I forget – stylo plumes – we don’t use those in Denmark and I was amazed to se the kids I looked after write with them. Euromarche always have fun ones.

- and a newspaper for great gift wrapping or craft projects.

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101 Christelle March 28, 2013 at 10:59 pm

The bag of sea salt from Guerande made my day. I was born in Guerande!! Beautiful town by the way if you want to visit and not that far away from where you are.
I always bring back supermarkets shopping bags as souvenirs. They are super light to carry, cheap, very useful and so attractive. Super U and Leclerc have a policy to replace your used bags I believe… bonus when you return in France, you can exchange your bag for a new version :-)
Also on my list of things I bring back is herbes de provence from the supermarket in large quantities that I gifts in ramequins, a big bag of Carambar (The French candy!) that make very cute individual gifts whenever (in my kids lunch boxes, in goody bags, as special treat to make a colleague’s day), Madeleines individually wrapped to enjoy longer or gift, Madeleine molds are cheap also at the supermarket and make a wonderful present for a baker, Clairefontaine paper products and ink pens with colourful inks and erasable pen -very cool for a teen-, postcard sized envelops, Armenian paper to kill bad smell in the kitchen (buy it at the Bureau de tabac), Green apple kids shampoo, Tesseire Grapefruit sirup, individual portions of Chocolat Carte Noire to enjoy with a cup of coffee (orange flavoured ones are nice)… Enjoy!
Oh I forgot, a trip to Decathlon for good quality inexpensive sport clothes.

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102 Beverly March 30, 2013 at 7:03 am

Planning a trip in Sept. this will come in handy. Any suggestions for packing during the end of Sept.

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103 Angie April 2, 2013 at 2:01 am

Hi Gabrielle,

I just happened to stumble upon your blog. This is a fabulous post, and yes, I have done the salt, savon, euros and yougurt jars! Never thought of the chalkboard and cloth!

My husband travels every month to Carentan and because I love Normandy very much, accompany him quite often! You guys must be loving it there!

Do keep posting more about the lovely Normandy and around!

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104 Heather HS April 2, 2013 at 11:32 am

LOVE this! Don’t forget Herbes de Provence – you can find little jars for less than an euro, and it makes everything taste good! Also, the generic nutella that comes in souvenir drinking glasses. I have the cutest set of sheep glasses from all the nutella I ate while there.

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105 rachel April 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I think it is a great reminder that souvenirs don’t have to be cheesy or super expensive to be cool. Things like salt, soap and (pasta from Italy) are things you’ll actually use!! Great ideas.

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106 Mark Johnson September 13, 2013 at 6:57 am

Thanx for sharing such a nice post. I am sharing this post on my facebook page.
Great Ideas for Perfect Travel Souvenir. :-)

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107 Debbie Graham October 9, 2013 at 1:25 am

I was trying to find cheap French gifts and just stumbled upon your post… What fabulous ideas and great pictures! Especially love the soaps and sea salt. I also found a website that gives great French Gifts ideas under $10: http://www.saveurdujour.com/french-gift-ideas-c-149.html
They carry Guerande and Camargue sea salt, Marseille soaps and Lavender, French chocolate bites… And they deliver to the US.

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108 Susan February 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Too funny. I have been purchasing those yogurt containers for years. The prettiest is the lavender one. When I travel there, it is for work. I give all my colleagues a couple yogurts to eat, then they wash and return them to me to bring home. I love them!! I think it is funny that there is someone else out there that does this. My other inexpensive gift are all the belay bags u can purchase at the registers at markets or hardware stores.

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109 Sarahbeth February 28, 2014 at 7:45 pm

You’re likely bored of hearing this, but OMIGOD THIS POST WAS AWESOME. I would marry this post if I could. My children attend a French immersion school, and I was trying to think of non-cluttery and inexpensive gifts to buy all of their teachers when I’m in Paris next week. You made my day. My week. Possibly my entire month. Thank you so much for this.

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110 Peter Wilkinson April 3, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Hi,
This may seem a strange request, but I’ve seen the french yoghurt jars on your website, and am desperate to get six of the french blue ones.
Is this possible without actually going to Paris?
I have a relative living in Morgan Hill, just south of Oakland.
Thank you so much
Peter Wilkinson

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111 MAC April 8, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I love this list. Please say a part 2 is on the way!

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112 Libby Casas April 9, 2014 at 7:07 am

Hi, just came across your blog/website because I am trying to find out ahead of time the name(s) and location(s) of the best supermarket(s) in Paris for buying a Sophie giraffe teething toy. Your suggestions for inexpensive gifts and souvenirs are just great! I too would like MORE suggestions! So, can you tell me please what supermarkets I should look for to buy the items you have shown, as well as a Sophie ? I will be in Paris in a few weeks and will be staying in a hotel in the 14th. The yogurt jars are beautiful. I bought some yogurt in small jars in Paris about 10 years ago and kept the jars, still have them, and use them to make cup custard. Would love to get some of these pretty ones on this trip. So, supermarket names and locations, if you please. Thanks!

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