15 Perfectly French (and Authentic) Christmas Gifts
1. For the wine lover: Le Nez du Vin Masterkit 54
2. For the decoration lover: Le Bon Marché Christmas Ornament Salon
3. For your Instagram-obsessed niece: à Paris
4. For the scent lover: Serge Lutens
French perfumer Serge Lutens creates unisex, intricate but very wearable scents adored by perfume connoisseurs. Name notes or scents enjoyed by your loved one and the diligent staff will help you pick the perfect bottle.
Where to buy: 142 Galerie de Valois, 75001 Paris or sergelutens.com.
5. For the book lover: The Bouquinistes of Paris
These book stalls on the banks of the Seine carry a eclectic melange of books and magazines. You are sure to find something personal your loved one will treasure. Or stop by iconic English bookseller Shakespeare and Company to pick up a classic novel set in Paris and ask to have it stamped with the bookstore’s seal at checkout.
Locations: The Bouquinistes of Paris, Banks of the Seine from the Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire — website: bouquinistedeparis.com. Shakespeare and Company: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris.
6. For your chic girlfriend: Diptyque Candle Carrousel
Parisian candle and fragrance brand Diptyque produces a new limited-edition candle carousel at Christmastime. I’m so obsessed with this carousel I wrote a whole post about it. This one in the picture is actually mine. These always sell out fast, so no guarantee they are in store, but may be available online through ebay.
Where to buy: Diptyque stores worldwide or www.diptyqueparis.com.
7. For the sweet tooth: Bûche de Noël
Yes, it looks like a log, but the bûche de noël is actually the traditional Christmas dessert of France (as well as Belgium, Switzerland and other French-speaking regions). A Yule Log made of chocolate sponge cake and cream, it is also usually decorated with mini ornaments shaped like trees, gifts and other winter scenes. You’ll have to buy the day you leave if you’re traveling far to go home, but you can also check local French bakeries to see if they create this classic Christmas treat. You can find classic ones at most pastry shops, and many upscale pastry shops produce modern varieties in creative colors and designs.
Where to buy: In Paris check out Hugo & Victor, Pierre Marcolini, La Maison du Chocolat or discover your personal favorite.
8. For the bébé: Monsieur Lapin Doll
Adorable plush bunny from French children’s toy brand Moulin Roty. Mr. Rabbit has lots of animal friends to choose from as well if bunnies aren’t your child’s favorite.
Where to buy: 22 Moulin Roty Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75011 Paris or bonjourpetit.com
9. For the college student: The quintessential striped shirt from Saint James
It may be a cliche, but French people of all ages really do wear striped shirts all the time. And the most authentic comes from Saint James, an iconic brand originating in the Brittany region that created the striped French Navy uniform. Go for a classic Breton Marinière in cotton jersey for men or women.
Where to buy: Saint James stores around Paris (and across the world) or www.saint-james.com.
10. For the crafter: Loose French lavender
French lavender is some of the best in the world. Crafters can use the fragrant flowers in soaps, sachets and other projects to add a calming scent to their projects.
Where to buy: Often available at soap, fragrance and spice shops in Paris. Visit Maison Bremond 1830 which has multiple locations across Paris.
11. For your mom: Real Savon de Marseille
A beautiful and inexpensive gift, Savon de Marseille is a traditional hard French soap originating around the city of Marseille and made from vegetable oils. Some brands use animal additives, so it is important to buy from good shops to make sure you’re getting the real deal. My favorite: Savonnerie Marius Fabre which has been making this soap in caldrons for four generations.
Where to buy: Savonnerie Marius Fabre, 26 Rue de Turenne 75003 Paris or online at www.marius-fabre.com.
12. For your brother: French knifes
Pick up a pocket or chef’s knife from a great French brand such as Forge de Laguiole, Opinel or Laguiole Fontenille Pataud. Paris has some excellent small knife shops that make the experience special as well. I recommend Cutlery Marais on Place Des Vosges or Laguiole Cutlery and Coutelleries dans l’Ile on Ile Saint Louis.
Where to buy: Cutlery Marais, 6 Rue du Pas de la Mule, 75003 Paris. Laguiole Cutlery, 35 Rue des Deux Ponts, 75004 Paris. Coutellerie dans l’Ile, 1 Rue des Deux Ponts, 75004 Paris.
13. For the cook: Fond Brun de Veau
Fond Brun de Veau is French condensed veal stock. It may sound like a strange gift, but this stock is the secret used by professionals and home cooks alike in France for creating delectable savory sauces and gravy. It is harder and more expensive to find outside of France.
Where to buy: G. Detou, 58 Rue Tiquetonne, 75001 Paris.
Note: The Les Halles neighborhood this shop is in also has many fine restaurant supply shops where you can pick up cookware at great prices.
14. For the little ones: French chocolate advent calendar
I say this is for children, but I always buy one for adult family members and my home as well. Many nice chocolate shops in Paris produce advent calendars. This year I love the ones from Maison de la Prasline Mazet in le Marais which have a variety of sweet treats inside the doors. I’ve also seen versions with beauty items, tea and other products instead of chocolate around town.
Where to buy: Maison de la Prasline Mazet 37 Rue des Archives, 75004 Paris or www.mazetconfiseur.com.
15. For your wife: Fragonard’s Delicates Travel Lingerie Pouch
Made by French perfumer Fragonard (which also produces beautiful fragrances) this sweet little lingerie pouch will keep her underthings protected while traveling. Pick up a perfume or home fragrance while you’re there to create a lovely set.
Where to buy: Fragonard 3-5 Square de l’Opéra-Louis Jouvet, 75009 Paris (and other locations around Paris) or at fragonard.com.
Do you have a favorite French gift to give or receive? Leave a comment and share!