29 things to buy in France: Gifts & souvenirs that they’ll love

Here are 29 thoughtful gifts, unique souvenirs and some cheap things to buy in France for Friends, relatives, and yourself that are actually keepers.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
Gifts, souvenirs and things to buy in France and bring back with you
Gifts, souvenirs and things to buy in France and bring back with you

Although it might be tempting to buy cheap souvenirs & gifts like keychains and magnets, they’re not the most unique souvenirs or thoughtful gifts. There are so many other great things you can buy in France to remind you of your trip.

I’ve curated a list of 29 great things to buy in France as gifts or souvenirs that won’t get thrown out. Things people will actually use, love and cherish, not throw in their junk drawer or sell at their next garage sale. Many of the things on this list are very affordable and easy to bring back with you in your luggage. 

Just in case you can’t make it to France right away. I’ve also included links to similar products which you can buy online as examples when possible. 

Household gift ideas from France

Here are a few cheap things to buy in France, that are actually useful. 

1) Reusable grocery bag

BAGGU: Large reusable french sailor grocery bag

Oh La La! This reusable shopping bag is perfect for that Francophile to head over to the corner market. Holds your lunch, shoes, gym clothes and up to 50 pounds of groceries. Folds into a flat 4" × 4" pouch. Holds up to 50 lbs.

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If you have someone who cares about the planet, then definitely make a trip to a French grocery store and pick up a reusable plastic or cloth supermarket bag. They are usually located near the checkout line and have some interesting motifs or inspiring phrases printed on the bag. 

2) Dish rag with French motif

French Kitchen towl (100% Linen)
$29.99

 Tricolore linen with blue, white and red stripes measures 17 x 26 Inches by Coucke, founded in 1931 by René Coucke in the north of France,

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02/18/2024 04:31 am GMT

Be on the lookout for the classic white cotton kitchen dish towel with the thin blue, white and red stripes.

Dish rags or kitchen towels are called les torchons in French, and although it might sound like a strange thing to buy in France, linen dish towels make great gifts not only because they’re useful but because of the classic tri-colour French stripes. 

3) Bar of Marseille soap

Savon de Marseille by Christophe Pourny

Handmade in France. Marseille soap is dermatologists approved because of its ultra-moisturizing properties. These are naturally scented, with real fruits or leaves pressed into each bar. Set of four includes: Apricot, Fig, Grapefruit, and Green Tea.

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Savons de Marseille (Marseille soap) is a famous soap from Marseille, France. It’s made with olive oil and natural ingredients and comes in a variety of scents. My favourite is lavender and verveine (verbena), which smells like sweet citrus. 

Savoury things you can buy in France

5) Tinned Sardines & tinned seafood

tinned fish: great gifts to bring from France and buy in France

This is going to sound so strange, but tinned fish and seafood such as sardines canned at canneries in cute and colourful tins make great gifts to bring from France. They’re practical, affordable, and easy to pack.

There are so many varieties to choose from in France, from garlic and tomato to lemon and olive oil. 

Other tinned fish gift ideas from France: Salmon, herring, tuna, and anchovies.

6) Cheese

Boulette d'Avesnes stinky French cheese: Cheese are great gifts and souvenirs to bring from France and buy in France.

You’ll need to check your country’s import laws to find out if you can bring back cheese with you and the airline rules. 

If you can, make sure you pack the cheese in an airtight container, preferably a plastic Tupperware, to prevent cheese from getting crushed, especially any stinky French cheese

The easiest cheeses to bring back are hard French cheeses. I recommend getting cheeses that you can’t find easily in your home country. Here are some suggestions. 

  • Beaufort
  • Ardi Gasna
  • Laruns
  • Bleu de Saint-Jean
  • Sancerre Cheese
  • Mimolette
  • Tomme de Savoie
  • Ossau Iraty
  • Nêufchatel
  • Raclette cheese (great for using with your raclette machine)

7) Truffled black olive tapenade spread (Tapenade noir à la truffe)

Olive truffle tapenade spread
$19.99 ($7.14 / Ounce)
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02/18/2024 12:51 pm GMT

If you or someone you know loves truffles and black olives, you definitely need to buy some truffled black olive tapenade from France. 

Tapenade/Tap-uh-Nad/ is a Provençal specialty that you’ll find in most French homes. It’s typically made with finely chopped or puréed olives (black or green), capers, and anchovies.

It’s great for when friends come over for an apéro.  Simply place a small bowl of tapenade on the table with some baguette slices, cucumbers or other crudities and let everyone enjoy an aperitif or cocktail. Super easy and super tasty. 

This truffled tapenade goes great on pasta dishes, sandwiches, sauces and as a topping on a steak. I like to add a dollop on top of my risotto just before serving. 

In case you’re curious, the French word tapenade is borrowed from tapeno (“caper”) from the Provençal and “Occitain” language.

Sweets to buy in France

7) Anything made by the brand Bonne Maman

You may have heard of Bonne Maman. This famous French brand makes Jam/ confiture in dozens of flavours. But what you may not know is that Bonne Maman also makes a variety of other products, including cookies, which you can pick up at any French grocery store.

8) Calisson Candy from France

Calissons are mouth-watering French confectionary made with a blend of almond paste and candied fruit, with a layer of royal icing from the city of Aix-en-Provence. You can usually find these in the duty-free shop, perfect for last-minute things to buy from France.

9) Chocolate

For chocolate lovers, why not pick up a box of fancy artisanal French chocolates?

French chocolate is some of the best in the world, making it a great souvenir gift that can be shared with family and friends.

From classic favourites from Galeries Lafayette and La Maison du Chocolat to independent chocolatiers offering unique flavours like ganache flavoured with Earl Grey, or Chesnut honey, pralines, and even lavender.

10) Macarons

Macaron gift box
$37.99 $34.99
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02/18/2024 04:46 am GMT

Macarons, not to be confused with coconut Macaroons, are the epitome of French desserts.

These small, flat and round meringue-like cookies are made with almond flour, sugar, and egg whites. Sandwiched in between these two delicate cookies is a creamy ganache, buttercream, or jam that comes in a variety of flavours.

Each flavour usually corresponds with the colour of the Macaron cookie. Brown usually has a chocolate or coffee filling, blue for blueberry, and red usually has raspberry or strawberry fillings. You get my drift.

11) Supermarket candy for the kids

French Tagada Strawberry Haribo Candy
$14.99 ($3.57 / Ounce)


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02/18/2024 07:31 pm GMT

If you want to bring back some gifts for kids but aren’t sure what to get, why not pick up some candy from a French supermarket that you can’t get back home? Tagada is an iconic candy that everyone knows in France. They’re also popular in other European countries such as Germany. 

French Supermarket Candy You Can Buy Online As Gifts Or Souvenirs

Alcohol to buy in France

Cheap things to buy in France and bring back with you

12) Wine

The thing about bringing wine back as a gift is that it’s annoying to pack in your bags.

So if you really want to bring back a gift of wine from France, make sure it’s a unique one that you can’t get in your home country or an expensive one in your home country. Wine tends to be much cheaper in France than in other countries. 

I suggest going into a wine shop and asking for some help to find something truly unique. A well-known wine shop located throughout France is Nicolas. 

Some popular choices are:

  • Sauternes
  • Muscadet
  • Côtes du Rhône
  • Fitou (I like this a lot. )
  • Regional wines from areas such as Alsace, Languedoc, or Corsica.

13) Champagne or Crémant

Everyone has heard of Dom Pérignon, but there are so many other Champagne brands made in the Champagne region of France that you can purchase for a fraction of what it would cost outside of France.

Here is a handful of popular choices:

  • Nicolas Feuillatte
  • Ruinart
  • Mumm
  • Moët & Chandon
  • Veuve Clicquot

Crémant is also a popular choice

If you’re not familiar with Crémant, it’s basically a sparkling wine made using the standard Champagne method.

Crémant comes from any French region outside of the Champagne region, and because of that, it can’t legally be called Champagne. 

TIP: Wine and champagne can be a little tricky to pack in your suitcase. Why not wait until you arrive at the airport to pick up some at the Dutyfree?

Anything with French writing on it or a French motif makes a great gift from France. 

A fun gift to shop for and to receive that you can easily find in France is something with French phrases and words on it.

If you’re pressed for time, walk into a Monoprix. The larger ones have a home department with everything from houseware and kitchenware to clothing and makeup. 

14) Printed Tshirt

Voila T-shirt in French

Unisex soft Tshirt. Size: XS to XL -60% combed ring-spun cotton/ 40% polyester lightweight

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It’s super easy to find printed T’s in France with all sorts of sayings in French.

Just make sure you bring your translator with you. You wouldn’t want to accidentally pick up a shirt that had obscenity on it. 

15) Coffee cups

Best mother coffee mug in French

A unique gift for you mom written in French: Best mom in the world coffee mug

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What mom or dad wouldn’t love to get a coffee mug with the words “world’s greatest mom or dad” written in French? 

16) Eyeglass case

eye glass cases from France with funny French franglais text make cute gifts and souvenirs

My daughter and I bought a super cheeky eyeglass case that had the Franglais phrase “What the Phoque” written on it. “Une phoque” is the French word for “seal” but it just sounds nasty to the English ear. 

17) Toiletry bags

Tote bag with French text personalized with name

Les petites affaires de "name" ("Lilly's" little things)

Shop at Etsy

A cute toiletry bag with a French phrase printed on it would be a great gift to buy for teen girls to put their makeup in. 

18) Printed Tote bags

Merci French Word Art tote bag
$14.99

Natural canvas tote bag and reusable shopping bag

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02/19/2024 02:11 am GMT

Tote bags always have some fun message or design on them, so keep your eyes peeled for one you like. 

19) Dishtowels

If you know any home chefs, they’ll love to get their hands on some French tea towels with different French motifs or French phrases in it. 

Printed Dish towel: Bistrot de Paris
$26.92 $24.70

19" X 28", 100 Percent Cotton Printed Kitchen/ Tea Towel.

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02/18/2024 03:56 am GMT

Miscellaneous

20) Pandora pendant

PANDORA Passport charm
$61.89

Cubic Zirconia Charm in Sterling Silver

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02/19/2024 02:01 am GMT

If you know someone special who has a Pandora bracelet, then pop into the Pandora store and pick up a special Pandora pendant to commemorate your trip.

Not every store carries the same inventory, so you might find something really unique.

Even if they don’t have a Pandora bracelet, you can get them a bracelet and a starter charm. 

21) French calendar

French Calendar: Things to buy in France and bring back

Whether you are buying it for yourself or for someone else, a French calendar in the French language would make a great souvenir or gift because it’s not only practical and useful, but a great way to stay connected to the culture. 

French calendars are set up a little differently than English calendars. Obviously, the days and the months are written in French. But also, the week starts on Monday, not Sunday, like many Calendars in the English-speaking world. The French calendar will also have all the French holidays notated.

You can learn more about the 7 days of the week in French: + Meaning & surprising ancient origins.

You can find all kinds of different themed calendars in paper stores, gift shops, book shops and sometimes even in big French chain supermarkets like Carrefour or Monoprix. 

22) Anything from the Fragonard Perfumerie boutique

anything from the Fragonard parfumerie makes a great gift, souvenir to buy in France

If you’re looking for unique things to buy in France and have an hour to shop and want to find something special, head over to a Fragonard boutique in France, where you’ll get the full French experience.

You’ll find a variety of interesting items, from perfumes, soaps, and home decor to clothing and jewelry.

Fragonard stores are located in Paris, Cannes, Nice, Paris, Marseille, Arles and Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. You may also find Fragnoard products in big department stores or small specialty gift shops in France.

Alternatively, you can pop into one of the Fragonard perfume museums, a fascinating place that showcases the secrets behind creating perfumes, as well as a collection of precious objects that trace the history of perfume from ancient times to the present day. There’s one located in Paris and another located in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world.

After the tour, you can buy some Fragonard fragrances to bring back home and pass out as gifts. 

23) Stationary with a French motif

Assorted Thank You Cards with Envelopes (French Treats motif)
$11.98

4 x 5.12 inch, Boxed Set of Gratitude Notes With Delicious French Desserts and Pastries.

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02/19/2024 01:46 am GMT

Who doesn’t need a nice stationery set or card set with matching envelopes?

Plus, you’ll have a great excuse to head into a French paper store, “une papeterie” or a book store where you’ll find all sorts of designs and motifs. 

24) Souvenirs and gifts from a French flea market (Marché aux Puces)

you can find all sorts of unique gifts, souvenirs and other things to buy in France at a French flea market

Shopping at a French flea market is a lot of fun! 

A French flea market is a great place to find truly unique and one-of-a-kind vintage or antique items that you won’t find anywhere else, so you never know what you’ll find. You’ll find everything from beautiful French antiques to odd things such as spooky-looking dolls. Some of the best and most well-known flea markets, called Marché aux Puces in French, are located in Paris. 

Plus, shopping at a French flea market is a great way to spend an afternoon or a morning. A win-win for everyone. 

Keep in mind that each French flea market operates on different schedules. Some are open daily, others weekly and only between certain hours, so be sure to look them up beforehand to find out when they’ll be open. 

BONUS: Anything from the French Navy boutique

Official boutique of the French Navy. Full of great souvenirs to buy in France and gifts to bring from France

The official online boutique for the French Navy (Marine Nationale), one of France’s 5 military branches sells its very own branded product line of clothing, military watches, accessories and home goods made in France.

Their boutique was launched in 2021 to raise funds to improve the conditions of sailors at sea and improve MARINE NATIONALE BRAND awareness.

Not only can you find traditional blue and white striped sailor shirts and sweaters, but you can also find other marine-themed items like a cute umbrella that looks like a French sailor, French sailor-themed toys, Vintage style French military watches, bags and more.

Most of the French Navy products have the French Navy logo, and every product was made in collaboration with well-known French brands such as:

  • Saint-James: based in Normandy: France’s legendary ready-to-wear brand that creates nautical Breton Striped Shirts.
  • Captain Corsaire: French label originally in Saint-Malo specializing in the nautical style since the ’60s. 
  • Villac: French toy company
  • Tudor (Swiss) and Yema (French): Watchmakers.
  • La Corvette: French brand of Marseille soaps, body care and home products that are mostly Ecocert certified. 
  • Cinabre: Men’s accessories, including bow ties, scarves, lapel pins and tote bags.
  • Elo De La Ruë Du Can: Artist and artisan who creates handpainted silk scarves.

Only ships to France:

Although the Marine National boutique only ships to France (at the time of this writing, it’s worth a look if you’ll be in France for at least 7 days so you can have the items shipped to your Airbnb or hotel during your stay in France. Alternatively, you could order the items ahead of your trip and have them shipped to your hotel in advance if you can get the timing right.

French Navy boutique website: boutique.marinenationale.gouv.fr/
Here are just a few items you can find on the French Navy website.

25) Blue and white mariners shirt

“Aircraft carrier” sailor top (Marinière "Porte-avions)

These French aircraft carrier sailor tops make great gifts to bring from France. They are sold directly on the French Navy website. Ships only to France.

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Nothing screams I’m from France more than a classic blue and white striped French mariner shirt. This simple design has been part of the French Navy’s uniform since the 1850s. French Fashion designer Coco Chanel, who was inspired by the humble French sailor’s uniform, made the design popular to the masses. 

The mariner’s shirts on the French Navy site are made by the brand Saint-James. Other well-known brands include Armor Lux and Orcival.

26) March 2 French Navy bracelet

Mach 2 Bracelet with French Navy logo

Constructed of metal cable inspired by the electrical contacts and flight control surfaces found in aircrafts. Features the "National Navy" brand's logo and three stripes - blue, white, and red - to proudly display the colours of France.

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27) Double-breasted wool peacoat made for the French Navy

"Commandant" Women's cloth pea coat

Made for the French Navy by French brand Captain Corsaire.Double breasted 50% wool and 50% polyester, buttons embossed with Marine Nationale engraving

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I personally own this coat and absolutely love it. 

28) French wood toy from the French Navy. 

Balancing wooden sailors (Marins en équilibre en bois)

Set of 12 wooden balancing French soldiers by French toy company Vilac specifically for the French Navy. Only available for shipping in France: Great gift to bring from France on your next visit.

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How cute are these stacking wooden French sailors who balance on one another? I think these would make a great gift from France for kids to play with or for adults to display on a bookshelf. 

29) French sailor umbrella from the French Navy

French navy sailor umbrella

A branded French navy umbrella with a cute French sailor handle. What a great gift to bring from France. Only ships to France.

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This cute branded French navy umbrella is made by Vilac, the French toy manufacturer for the French Navy. 

That’s all for this list of things to buy in France. Keep in mind that there are many more incredible souvenirs and gifts from France, so, while you’re strolling around and sightseeing in France, keep a lookout for them.

Happy shopping.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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