The best souvenirs from France and where to buy them

photo by luvjnx on Flickr

Even if you’re traveling on a tiny budget, if you’re having fun you will most likely feel the urge to buy something to remind you of your trip – a souvenir. In French, souvenir means memory – a very fitting name for something that you buy to bring back memories of good old times. You can keep your souvenir for yourself and reminisce about faraway places and adventures, or maybe bring back to friends or family as a proof that you’ve seen interesting places and returned to tell the tale. So if you’re visiting France, make sure you pick up something that will remind you of the Hexagon – there are plenty of things to choose from! Here are some of the best souvenirs from France and where to buy them.

Used books and postcards from Parisian bouquinistes

Bouquinistes in Paris, photo by jfgornet on Flickr

The bouquinists are as Parisian as the Eiffel Tower – you can find them along the banks of the Seine. The bouquinistes have been a fixture of Paris for a long time, and they sell old and second hand books, post cards, replicas of old French advertisements and other assorted knick knacks. The stalls of the bouquinistes might be closed on weekdays in winter, but they’re open on weekends.

Lavender tea from Provence

If you miss the sun-drenched hills of Provence, just brew yourself a cup of lavender tea and you will be instantly transported into the middle of a fragrant field of blooming lavender. Since lavender is so widespread in Provence, if you visit this picturesque part of France, lavender tea is a very fitting souvenir, although it will surely not last for long in your cupboard!

Maille mustard from Dijon

Maille mustard, photo by Javier Lastras on Flickr

Dijon mustard is world famous, and some of the best mustards and ‘cornichons’ (pickled gherkins) can be found in Maille shops which were founded in 1747. 260 years later, Maille still produces some of the best quality mustard in France, according to both traditional recipes and new, refined and surprising ones. The shops carry around 50 different types of mustard, which you can taste at the shop before deciding which one to buy.

Art from Lyon

If you’re not against splurging a bit, you can wander around the many galleries in Viex Lyon, the old town of Lyon, where you can buy traditional paintings, arts and crafts and textiles. The stylish shops in Vieux Lyon are chock full of unique items, most of which are expensive, but there’s always the possibility of finding a gem for bargain prices.

Perfume from Grasse

photo by Bob Hall on Flickr

French perfume doesn’t need any introduction, but even if you don’t want to spend all your savings on super-expensive and famous perfumes, you might find some affordable and delicious scents in Grasse, the perfume capital of France. Many perfumeries offer discounts, and you can also pick up some small samples in one of the perfume factories open for tourists (Fragonard, Molinard, Galimard). The most original souvenir would be a perfume of your own making – you can sign up for a perfume making class in Grasse and mix your own scent!


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