5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5

July 3, 2013

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Text and images by Gabrielle.

We are moving back to the U.S. so soon! We’re down to less than two weeks, and I can hardly believe it. Today, I started organizing our belongings into “Donate,” “Keep at The Cottage,” and “Bring Back to The States” And it made me realize it’s time to stock up on gifts for friends and family, plus French staples that we’ll want to have in the U.S..

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5

A few months ago, I shared 5 ideas for fun, inexpensive souvenirs you can find at French grocery stores. And today, I’ve got five more ideas! As I pack up for our move, I’ll be filling one of our suitcases with items like these.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

First up, simple ceramic bowls and dishes. Every grocery store has a kitchen aisle with all sorts of various ceramics. My favorites are the footed bowls in every shade of the rainbow. We call them hot cocoa bowls at our house, because we were taught that French children drink their morning chocolat chaude from these lovely little bowls. They are very French! And can be found in different sizes and colors for about 1 euro ($1.25) each.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

But it’s not just bowls! You can find all sorts of small bakeable ceramic dishes in varying shapes and sizes. I like the ones pictured for their delicate shade of blue/grey. You can use them to bake individual portions, or for creme brulée, or just as small dishes for ingredient prep. Again, they run about 1 euro each.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

Stack them up, add a bow, and they make a fabulous souvenir! You could even fill them with French salt as an added bonus.

french 5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

The second idea is candy. That’s a no brainer, right? But the candy that’s boxed and promoted as a gift can be quite expensive. So I recommend buying some favorites that come in not-that-pretty packaging, and transferring them to a cellophane bag instead.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

My three picks: 1) Salted Caramels. Since salt and dairy are French specialities, you can bet they take pride in their salted caramels. Even the inexpensive ones are delicious! The ones pictured are made in France and don’t have any branding on their wrappers. So they look great in a cellophane bag. These caramels run about $2.50.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom 5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

2) Vichy mints. These are classic. Again, they’re very French with a distinctive shape and branding.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

I always keep these in my handbag for quick breath freshening. They’re not too strong and have that perfect texture somewhere between crispy and chalky. A bag runs about $2.00.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom 5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

3) Licorice gums. Reglisse, which means licorice, is a very popular flavor in France. In fact, you can even find reglisse ice cream! So this is another candy that feels super French.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

The texture of these is nice and chewy — more chewy than an American gum drop. And the flavor is perfection, at least, if you’re a licorice fan. : ) Luckily, my kids don’t favor black licorice, so when we buy these, Ben Blair and I get to eat the whole bag ourselves. A bag runs about $2.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

The third idea can be found in the grocery store near the aluminum foil and plastic wrap. French stores offer lots of little paper containers for serving individual portions. I love these! And think they make a great gift for anyone in your life who has a thing for party supplies. They can be used for all sorts of things — like party favor holders, dessert dishes, or to organize your jewelry drawer.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

Repackage them in cellophane, add a bow and you’re all set. Little cartons like these are around 2 euros (or $2.50) for the whole package.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

The fourth souvenir idea is a good one for school age kids, teens, or even adults. Head to the school supply aisle and pick up a fountain pen, and a famed Rhodia notebook. Every French student uses both of these. They are an absolute fixture in French schools.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

The pens comes in many designs and colors and they include 2 ink cartridges. (I recommend picking up a bag of ink refills while you’re there.) The pens are about $2 each.

Rhodia notebooks are a French staple. They come in various shapes and sizes, but they’re always the signature golden yellow/orange, and the pages are always small graph lines. A pen and a notebook together make a fun and very French gift.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

I think you might laugh at idea number five, but it’s a really good one for foodies! There are tons of amazing and famous French foods but they can be tricky as gifts. For example, foie gras would make an excellent French souvenir for a foodie, but even tiny containers are usually priced starting at $10 and up. And the Normandy butter is out of this world, but how do you transport butter? French mustard is amazing too, but packing up a glass bottle can cause stress. So when I’m looking for foodie souvenirs, I favor items in tin cans. And my favorite pick… is Sardines!

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

Confession: I don’t actually like to eat sardines. But the packaging is so fabulous, that I end up buying them anyway. Hah! Some come in oil, some in tomato sauce, some with herbs. But they’re all very inexpensive at around $2.50 each. And the cans are so handsome, they are pretty much irresistible.

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

Stack two or three, add a bow, and you’ve got yourself a souvenir any foodie would love!

There you have it. Five more French souvenirs under $5. Hopefully, between this post and the last one, you’ll be covered on your next trip to France. You’ll buy gifts for everyone you know without eating up your entire travel budget!

And now I’d love to hear. What did I miss? What would you add? And when are you headed to France?

P.S. — When you’re in the school supply aisle picking up a fountain pen, don’t miss the elastic closure and belt closure folders. I adore these! I’m bringing home a stack of them. If you have a friend who crushes on office supplies, these would make a great gift!

5 More Fabulous French Souvenirs Under $5. Great stuff you can find at any French Grocery Store.  |  Design Mom

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lucy July 3, 2013 at 9:03 am

I lived in Italy for four years and travelled extensively in Europe. The stationary aisle of any store was always a primary destination for me. Such cool stuff. Il papiro in Italy is delicious, but spendy.

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2 The Prudent Homemaker July 3, 2013 at 9:57 am

The amazing thing to me is the prices of those things! Those same bowls are available in the U.S., but they are 4-5 times the price.

Likewise, fountain pens are ever so much more. The student versions have been mostly discontinued in the U.S.

Just for kicks, I got on Amazon France’s page. I didn’t see anything as inexpensive as 2 Euros, but I noticed they carried all of the student fountain pens that I can no longer purchase anywhere in the U.S.: my favorite Parker pen (I bought a Le Petit Prince Parker pen in the same style when I lived in Lyon), Lamy fountain pens (now no longer carried by two American Fountain pen companies) and several other brands that I recognize as selling in the U.S., but that I haven’t found here. The prices were higher than you quoted, but still vastly less expensive than they are in the U.S.

I remember the black licorice candy (not that brand, but so many others).

One of the things that I brought home were French postage stamps. I loved them!

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3 The Prudent Homemaker July 3, 2013 at 10:02 am

I stand corrected. Amazon U.S. is now carrying some of those same fountain pens (the student models) but the prices are definitely higher, at $20 and $30 a pen (for the same pens).

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4 Meg July 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

This post makes me homesick for Paris. If you’ve time, pls check out La Vaisseillerie , they carry a lot of wonderful things for the kitchen and bath (among other things) that would make great souvenirs.

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5 meabh July 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I’d add the original plain caramel Carambars, Mère Poulard’s Grandes Galettes (in the red box), Faugier chestnut purée and French tisanes – verveine/menthe, tilleul etc!

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6 Christy@SweetandSavoring July 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I love those ceramic baking dishes. The bowls, too! Thanks for doing these posts- I’ll have a nice bunch of links to refer to next time I’m in France :)

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7 Jessica July 3, 2013 at 8:07 pm

This isn’t France related and they’re certainly not “souvenirs”, but when we lived abroad in Switzerland, I learned of 2 things the Swiss do so right –aside from chocolate of course. I couldn’t resist bringing them back to the States: their version of Saran Wrap and diaper cream. So random! I brought about 10 rolls of Saran and a few tubes of cream home to share, and now when we travel back there, I pick more up! The best!

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8 Sally from Little Hiccups July 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

Glad to hear I’m not the only one who stocks up on random grocery items from abroad! I’m from Australia but currently live in California. When friends and family visit they always ask about foods that I might like them to bring over (usually candy, chips etc). They’re always surprised to hear that instead of candy I want boring every day things like washing powder and toothpaste! Of course, I’ll happily take the candy too ;)

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9 PARIS BEE kids blog July 4, 2013 at 5:42 am

What, am I missing it, where did you get the cute tri-color ribbon from? I’m looking for the same thing. If you have a bulk type place in France that would be great! Let me know and I’m going to re-examine if I passed the recommendation by accident.

xoxo PARIS BEE kids blog

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10 Design Mom July 4, 2013 at 6:01 am

I actually found the ribbon at Michaels when I was in the U.S. last summer. They consistently stock it in their grosgrain ribbon section.

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11 Sharmyn July 4, 2013 at 7:05 am

Labello Lip Balm, baking cocoa – it is Dutch but I always stock up on Van Houten (sometimes I even find it in a great tin!), the spice aisle is great for foodies I love vanilla powder, and for some reason I am crazy about the triple concentrate tomato paste in France – talk about great packaging. I also pick up three or four scarves (the kind you find for sale outside of the Metro.) Somehow my friends think they are more chic than the ones they pick up at Target. These things always make their way to my suitcase when I’ve been to France.

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12 Chelle July 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

Kindereggs. Although I suppose they’re illegal to bring back to the US these days. But oh, how I love putting together those little toys inside!

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13 Sally from Little Hiccups July 4, 2013 at 11:42 am

I was surprised when I moved to America to discover that Kinder Surprise Eggs don’t exist here. In Australia they’re in all the supermarkets, corner stores, newsagents etc. My kids were excited when we discovered a small store near us that imports them from the UK – along with lots of other delicious chocolate bars that we miss from home. My kids don’t get them very often though as they’re almost $4.oo each here (eek!) and almost always past their expiry date!

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14 terinaj July 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm

kinder eggs are actually illegal here in the states. they have them in canada, but if you try to bring them over the border, they will be confiscated. apparently the toys inside are hazards. whatever. you can at least get some kinder chocolates in the states.

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15 Starr July 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm

On my way to Cherbourg in August. Think I’ll be making good on some of these recommendations!

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16 Maria G. July 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I love the little heart-shaped bowls. I wonder if I can find them even if I don’t visit France. I also love the Vichy mints. Indeed, they are unique in shape; aside from the fact that I have this passion for mints. And they’re under $5? I’ll remember this if I go to France.

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17 Anita July 4, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Absolutely loved the sardines idea – not only are your reasonings sound, but those tins are beautiful!
All of your ideas are stunning and I’d love to be on the receiving end of any of those!
Have you thought about alcoholic beverages? Kir maybe from France, but obviously every country would have their own pride.

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18 terinaj July 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm

i LOVE the elastic ‘chemise’ folders. LOVE. i had my brother send me some from when he was in france last. i also miss how cheap the fountain pens are there. i love using them for my journal writing, but i have a hard time finding them at a decent price. i usually buy one on etsy. my favorite chocolates are suchard rocher noir. so.delicious. also, carambars are freaking awesome. and very very french. haribo also makes something like a jelly bean, but not quite, and i have yet to find it here. those would be fun to put in a clear bag with a bow, too.

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19 Lindsay July 6, 2013 at 4:43 am

Another great post, which makes me need to plan a trip to France. Actually, I am, but it isn’t for another 5 years for a family member’s special birthday.

I would love to hear what non-Americans love to buy/receive from the US. Being American, I can tell you what I bring back. Also, what do people like to buy/receive from other countries or their own (especially if you live overseas, what do you miss)?

My running list of things I bring back from the US when we visit: colored tissue paper, marshmallows, Starburst candies (and any with gelatin since it is a pork product and not available here), Butterfinger, baking extracts (rootbeer, peppermint, vanilla, etc.-they are made with alcohol and can’t find here and uniquely American flavors), maple syrup, sunscreen (essential here, but not many choices and most full of chemicals as well as EXPENSIVE), deodorant, and any American/Christian holiday stuff.

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20 Lindsay July 6, 2013 at 4:43 am

I should add, my husband always wants to bring back cereal.

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21 LAW July 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

I can’t read the label on the pen/notebook photo and was wondering: what is the brand name of that cute pen? Thanks!

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22 Design Mom July 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm

It’s a store brand called Domedia.

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23 LAW July 10, 2013 at 8:13 am

Thanks!!

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24 Christine from Giftovus July 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I was in Paris last summer and regret not having gotten many souvenirs of my trip. The fountain pen, and a famed Rhodia notebook is a lovely souvenir as I am mildly obsessed with school supplies. If I ever get the chance to visit France again I will definitely buy a set or two.

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25 OlgaM July 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Such a great post! Makes me want to go to France right now just so I can shop for these! Ravissant!

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26 Nicole_boldgoods July 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

I love these posts. These ideas would also be easy to translate into giving “everyday” gifts from stores in the US when you return. For example, we’re giving my father in law pruners and a holster for his birthday. Instead of just wrapping the plastic boxes they came in, I plan to use your cute packaging ideas here!

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27 jess July 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm

i recently was just in France and did a whole bunch of your last suggestions for gifts … it was such a hit, I thank you so very much … the next time I am there I will for sure be doing all of these ones …. you are great!!!
Jess

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28 Jan Taylor January 8, 2014 at 4:32 am

I’m living here in Paris and still haven’t seen the kitchen towels you showed on your 5 Fabulous French Souvenirs. Where can I find those??? (And did some of the small dishes come from Casa?) Thanks.

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29 Kate February 19, 2014 at 5:59 pm

We are going back to France this fall and I found your blog when looking for inexpensive souvenirs to bring back for work acquaintances. Thank you for the hints.

Oh, and I know it’s too late for you but we found some fabulous mustards in metal tubes – Tubissime from Sur Les Quais. The mushroom and herbes de Provence are so good! And they are easy to pack home in a suitcase.

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30 Beth February 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Tomorrow I am going out to get some of these to take home as souvenirs! Thanks!

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