I don’t know about you, but as much as I love shopping I don’t do too much of it when I travel. There are of course certain exceptions and being in Paris is one of them. I skip the fashion items and head to the gourmet food establishments to spoil myself and buy gifts from Paris for myself and my foodie friends.
When I think about all the amazing food in the city you really are spoilt for choice. Everybody will have their own favourite items to buy, but these are some of mine.
Cheese and wine
My top 10 foodie gifts from Paris
Everyone needs salt so you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s one of the things that I always buy. It might sound simple, but it gives me a great deal of pleasure when I am back home using it to be reminded of a fabulous holiday. It keeps well so there is no problem with it going off and spoiling. It is also easy to transport and you don’t have to worry that it might break in transit.
I only buy Fleur de Sel which translated means flower of salt because of the flower-like patterns that form in the crystals. The salt is formed when the sea water evaporates and leaves a thin, delicate crust on the surface. The resulting flakes are so fragile they have to be harvested by hand. The texture is also a little different as it has 10% moisture content. The flavour is subtle and delicate and once you have tasted it I am sure that you will be a convert.
I don’t really remember when my love affair with macarons started, but I do know that I can’t go to Paris and not buy some. I am drawn to the pretty colours like a moth to a flame. The iconic places for some of the best macarons around are La Durée or Pierre Hermé
La Durée was the first to sandwich two macarons together and put a creamy filling in the centre in 1930. They now sell around 15 000 of these delicious bites every day.
Pierre Hermé I think is more trendy and regularly changes the flavours of the macrons with the seasons. There is a signature collection as well. I love the Mogador (chocolate and passion fruit) or Isaphan (Rose, litchi and raspberry), but you really won’t go wrong with any of the flavours.
Tip: Macarons are best eaten fresh so try not to keep them for longer than 2-3 days.
This is another item that I adore. Wherever I am, if I see a menu item that has truffle in it, I have to order it. I remember the first time I tried truffles. I was staying at a small hotel in the north of France. I ordered scrambled eggs for breakfast. They arrived with shavings of truffle on top. This was about 30 years ago and I had no idea why there were brown bits over my eggs with an extremely funky smell. Just one taste and I was hooked.
At the Maison de la Truffe you can find truffles in every imaginable form. Canned, bottled, whole, truffle purées and dried shavings. In winter you can buy white truffles up until December which is considered to be the superior of the 2 truffles, but quite honestly I am not that fussy.
Tip: If you can’t afford truffles then try some truffle butter or olive oil infused with truffle. Out of these two, I prefer the butter which I think enhances the flavour of the truffle.
On the same square at the Maison de Truffe, you can find the Prunier. They produce their caviar in Bordeaux and are part of the Caviar House Group, one of the top luxury brands in the world.
Caviar is one of the world’s oldest delicacies. Ancient Greeks, Romans and of course the Russian Tsars indulged in caviar. There are sustainable sources available today, which is always my preferred option.
I don’t suppose that mustard would be the first thing that would come to mind when you think of buying goodies to take back home. I love the Maille brand which I buy at home as well. They started making mustard 270 years ago and the first boutique was opened in 1747 in Paris. Naturally, their mustard is grown in the Dijon area. In 1937 Dijon was granted an Appellation Controlee, which means that it has to follow prescribed rules to be called a Dijon mustard.
It makes sense to head to their shop, which is on the same square as the truffle and caviar shops so it’s easy to pop in and pick up a couple of bottles. They also have wonderful gift sets and smaller bottles if you would like to sample a wider range of mustards. You can choose from mini gift sets or fancier ones or simply choose your own favourites.
This is a subject that I could wax on about lyrically for hours. I am not a recent convert following the trend, but the first time that I tasted them in Brittany about 15 years ago, I was hooked. These days there is no shortage of copycats which are mass produced, but once you have enjoyed the creamy deliciousness followed by the sharp pop of the salt of the French caramels you will be hooked for life.
The original version is buttery, creamy and rich and who better to buy them from than a chef who comes from Brittany? If you want the best then there is only one name to consider, Henri Le Roux. He also makes a legendary version as a spread.
There is something about the thought of cheese that leaves me weak at the knees. It is my all-time favourite snack, but when you are faced with the choice you have in France where do you begin? It can be confusing.
Depending on who you talk to you will get a variety of answers, but on average there are around 350 – 400 different types of cheese in France. These are split into are regional cheeses, artisanal cheese, bulk manufactures and farm cheese as categories to choose from.
Cheese is also a seasonal product and there is an optimal time to buy it as well as eat it. If you are uncertain about what to buy then a good starting point is to go to a fromagerie and tell them what you like. A good fromager will be more than willing to help you with your selections and will also allow you to taste before you buy anything.
Fromagerie Laurent Dubois always has someone on hand to help you with your choice. This is just one of many amazing cheese shops in Paris. If you find yourself walking past a fromagerie go in and explore. I dare you to try something new!
It is widely believed that a Benedictine monk at the Dom Perignon Monastery is the inventor of Champagne in the 17th century. It’s a great story, but I am not sure if it is true or not because bubbles occur naturally during fermentation.
Champagne’s reputation has become synonymous with luxury and romance. It comes only from the Champagne region in France. When you are in Paris pick up a couple of bottles to take home with you unless, like me, you drink them first and have to buy some more at duty free as you leave.
Popular choices are Veuve Cliquot, Dom Pérignon, and Moët et Chandon, but there are also a number of smaller producers that deliver amazing quality. I look for some of the boutique producers like Philipponnat or Lallier that deliver spectacular results for when I want a really special champagne.
I am pretty sure that you would not normally consider the French as tea drinkers or for that matter connoisseurs, but you would be incorrect. Tea in France can be traced back to 1639 when it was used by the aristocracy and the king to treat ails like gout.
Unlike in England, tea drinking did not filter down to the general public. It was seen as being a decadence that was associated with the wealthy. In the late 17th century tea almost vanished in France as the gap between the rich and the poor grew bigger.
In the 1980’s there was a resurgence in the demand for tea. English style blends were too strong for French palates so new blends were created. Some of the oldest brands around are Dammann Frères dating back to 1692 and Mariage Freres, started by 2 brothers who were tea traders in the 1854.
Did you know that you can buy Parisian honey? A group of beekeepers around Paris have set up hives on the rooftops of some of the city’s landmarks like the Ecole Militaire and Musée d’Orsay. There are now more than 700 hives spread through Paris.
It is strange to think that there are bees in the city, but Paris has some wonderful open spaces, parks, gardens and pretty window boxes everywhere. There is also no threat of pesticide killing the bees. Bees are on the decline throughout the world and are vital for pollination in agriculture. I think that this is an admirable project that we should support.
More: Paris Guides
There are so many choices for delicious gifts from Paris that I could ramble on for quite a while, but I want to inspire you rather than bore you. So, I hope that you have found something new or at least this has given you some good ideas to impress your foodie friends back home and bring back fond memories of your trip to Paris.
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