Tis the season! The illuminations are up on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, boutiques are showing off fantastical shop windows, and the Christmas markets are in full swing. (Pain d’épices and hot mulled wine galore.) Need some inspiration for your holiday shopping? We’re here to add some French joie de vivre to your gift list! The team at France Today has curated a selection of favourite finds at all price ranges.
Sugar and Spice
For the home cook, there’s an amazing selection of gourmet products and kitchen goodies guaranteed to please. Top of our list? The Graphite salt and pepper set by Peugeot, the celebrated brand that’s been crafting wooden pepper and salt mills, with their original steel grinding mechanism, for over 200 years. (Psst. Did you know we are running a competition to win this elegant set? Check it out here.)
Top chefs prize the fleur de sel harvested by hand in Guérande and on the Île de Ré. If you can’t buy directly from the cooperatives, you can find other varieties of this fine salt at stores like Monoprix or Galeries Lafayette Gourmet. No kitchen is complete without fine oils and vinegar; we love the Mussini Family’s balsamic vinegar, aged for 15 years in oak casks in the family’s winery. They’ve been producing this elegant product since 1909!
Nothing says Christmas like fine chocolate. We’re big fans of Chocolat Chapon, Edwart Chocolatier, and the Manufacture Alain Ducasse. If you’re looking for a sampler with various flavours like ganache and sea-salt caramel, look no further than Max Vauche.
Let’s not forget the fromage. For cheese fans, what could be more fun than a cheese subscription with Fromages.com? You’ll get a seasonal selection of 4-6 cheeses delivered right to your doorstep. Or add some gourmet sparkle to your holiday table with a cheese and wine hamper from The Cheese Geeks.
Can’t decide between all the bountiful gourmet options from France? Order a premium gift hamper, brimming with tasty treats, from Classic Deli. Think premium foie gras, the best selection of Bordier cheeses, vintage Millesime 2008 Champagne, and the finest chocolate from Valrhona. Another luxury hamper we love is Le Chapeau Rouge from C’est Cela, filled with an array of artisanal French products like raspberries in Gascogne wine, champagne, foie gras, toffee, fig confit, salted butter caramel, rose petal confit, and more.
Get Your Fashion Fix
Give the gift of French fashion. From the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week to the prêt-à-porter boutiques, France is famous all over the planet as a preeminent fashion capital. If you’re headed to Paris, check out our dedicated shopping guides, and if you’re looking for vintage style, head straight to Didier Ludot on the Palais Royal.
Want to keep alive the artisanal craftsmanship so celebrated in France? Choose handmade, luxury gloves from Maisons Causse, Fabre or Lavabre Cadet. Easy online purchases can be made from Armor-lux and Saint James (Breton striped shirts), Hermès (the universally adored silk scarves), Vilebrequin (swimwear), Le Slip Français (underwear), and more…
Lift Your Spirits
France has a world-renowned wine culture, with infinite appellations and bottles guaranteed to please the oenophiles on your list. But don’t overlook the stronger stuff. The oldest spirit in France is Armagnac, dating back more than 700 years. As we’re previously written, “Like single malts, armagnacs are distinctive, individualistic—even quirky. Most important of all they reflect what realtors call location and the French call terroir—the complex interaction of soil, climate, topography and other factors that make each grape-producing region—indeed often each single vineyard—unique.” Try the 10-year beauty by Château de Bordeneuve— pure liquid gold in a glass!
Just a sip of Calvados brandy takes us to the apple orchards of Normandy. Distilled from cider, it isn’t uncommon for over 100 different apple varieties to be combined to create an intuitively balanced, fine-tuned brandy. Our pick? Père Magloire V.S.O.P. Calvados, crafted by Cellar Master Jean-Luc Fossey. On the nose there is a heavy apple blossom aroma followed by a delicious crisp flavour on the palate, harmoniously blending with the freshness of fruit.
Did you know that absinthe is making a comeback? La Fée Verte (The Green Fairy, as it was known back in the day) was arguably Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s favourite drink, and now it’s seeing a revival in bars and boutiques. Aficionados love the aromatic and intense taste of Absente. Using artisanal distillation methods and high-quality ingredients, including the infamous botanical Wormwood, Absente is crafted with the perfect balance of Wormwood, anise, mint and spices.
Crazy for cognac? We recommend the Seignette VS Cognac Gift Pack, beautifully packaged and equally beautiful on the palate.
Last but not least: here’s a bottle that’s truly unique. Produced in the French region of Cognac, G’Vine is a gin infused with Ugni Blanc grape, as well as some more standard botanicals including ginger root, liquorice, cardamom, cassia bark, coriander, cubeb berries, nutmeg, lime and a hint of traditional juniper.
Beauty for all Budgets
France is home to some of the world’s most renowned beauty brands: Guerlain, Codage, Sothys, Clarins, Biologique Recherche… the list goes on. When it comes to gifts, cult favourites include the nourishing Huile Prodigieuse by Nuxe and the Crushed Cabernet Scrub by Caudalie. Originally launched at Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte (Bordeaux) in 1995, the Caudalie brand is based on a pharmaceutical professor’s research of the anti-oxidant-rich polyphenols found in grape seeds.
What about gift sets of artisanal soap made in Marseille? Chateau du Savon is our go-to place for beautiful, aromatic soaps made with natural and sustainable ingredients. A bestseller is the seven-piece luxury set in Provençal lavender, enriched with organic Shea butter.
And for the ultimate stocking stuffer, there’s nothing like Chanel’s signature red lipstick.
Paris Is Always a Good Idea
Travelling to Paris soon? Get insider secrets with a membership to Bonjour Paris, the oldest English website about the City of Light. Members also get free access to the popular online events series called Bonjour Paris Live. There’s also a gorgeous Bonjour Paris calendar full of photographs of the French capital.
American Richard Nahem has launched a series of postcards featuring his Parisian door photography. Fascinated by French architecture and intrigued by the beautiful doors, he has photographed hundreds of doors since 2007. (He even has a dedicated Instagram account @parisian_doors.) Find them on Etsy.
And why not consider a tour with the experts at Context Travel? Context Travel provides immersive walking tours in 60+ cities around the world led by an impressive network of PHD or MA-level degree scholars, specialising in the areas of architecture, art history, culinary and more. Check out the selection of tours and progammes here.
Call us biased but what’s better than a magazine subscription, the gift that keeps on giving for 12 months of the year? France Media Group proudly publishes France Today and French Entrée magazines. For the gourmands, there’s Taste of France. And a whole lot more… Check out France Media’s shop here.
And call us hoarders, but we can’t get enough of France-themed books. Some wonderful titles that have crossed our desks this year include Vaux-le-Vicomte, A Private Invitation; Recipes from Le Rouzet; Death and Croissants; The French Royal Wardrobe; The Chateau of Illusions by France Media Editor-in-Chief Guy Hibbert; and My Place at the Table by Alexander Lobrano, the food writer and long-time contributor to France Today. Additional literary inspiration can be found in our book reviews.