Paris, France Souvenir Ideas
Eight souvenirs under 20 euros.
1. Mini Eiffel Towers - Nothing symbolizes Paris more than the Eiffel Tower. Miniature replicas of the Eiffel Tower in bronze, silver, gold, and even multi-colored fiber optic designs (kids love them) can be purchased virtually anywhere in the city for around 2 euros. A few places to score a good deal are to bargain with the vendors that hang out in groves in front of the Eiffel Tower, and the numerous tourist shops along the Rue de Rivoli across from the Louvre.
2. Scarves and Ties - Lovely patterned silk scarves, pashimas, and knock-offs of designer ties are a steal in Paris. For 5-10 euros, you can bring home an item that looks like it costs 4 times as much in the states. Inside the Galleries Lafayette browse and determine what the styles/colors of the season are, then step outside and purchase a similar item from the vendors on the sidewalk. Another place for quality scarves and ties are the shops inside the Opera métro station. A bonus is that scarves and ties take up virtually no luggage space.
3. Chocolates - No gift is as "sure to please" as chocolates from Paris. For the most delectable chocolates you've ever tasted, shop at Cacao et Chocolat. Pricey, but worth it.
On a budget, stop at a French grocery like Monoprix or Franprix, and browse the aisles dedicated to chocolate. Purchase a few Lindt bars with flavors hard to find in the US, like Creme Brulee and Tiramisu, or Côte d'or Brut bars with cocoa levels around 90% - the dark chocolates that have surprising health benefits (maybe, there is such a thing as a free lunch). Grab a bunch of bars for 2 euros each - you won't regret the purchase.
4. Drawings - Paris is filled with artists drawing inspiration from the sublime beauty of their surroundings. Browse the artists stalls in Montmartre's Place du Tertre and purchase an original pen and ink drawing of the Eiffel Tower or a watercolor of the Seine.
For bargains, a good spot is the artists lining the Quai Voltaire in front of the Orsay museum. Expect to pay 5 - 15 euros per painting. A few unique ideas we've seen include pen-and-ink drawings of an elephant morphing into the Eiffel Tower - children love these - and the colorful images of Paris painted on ceramic tiles. Part of the charm is the loving way in which the artists carefully wrap their creations in brown paper for the trip home. An experience you won't find buying Paris prints in your local Target.
5. Cosmetics and Skincare Products - If you're "into" skin care and cosmetics, you'll find heaven in at a typical Parisian pharmacy (look for the illuminated green crosses above the storefront). Parisian women take their beauty routines seriously, as evident by the aisles of moisturizers, cellulite creams, and body scrubs - you'll be amazed at the options from Parisian-only brands to high-end names in the US, such as Le Prairie.
Pharmacies also carry cosmetic lines such as Chanel, and Lancome that are only available in the department stores in the US. For a souvenir, ask the clerk for what's popular and pick up the Chanel nail color (15 euros) that is the rage in Paris, but won't be seen in the US for another year.
Buy a bar of vegetable soap (lettuce, carrot, tomato or eggplant for 4 euros) from Roger and Gallet that is also very popular among the Parisians. Sounds very strange and a little icky, but smells great and makes your skin silky smooth.
6. Your Own Photos - On a cloudy day, set your digital camera to "black and white" and capture the mood of Paris. The white-grey stone buildings, vertical black tree lines, the overcast sky reflected in the Seine, and the elegance of the Eiffel Tower is perfectly captured in black and white photography. Let out your inner "Robert Doisneau, the famous French photographer known for the photo "Kiss at the Hotel De Ville" and start shooting.
7. Vinegars and Liquors in Unique Glass Bottles - Stop by the Vom Fass section in the Galleries Lafayette to bottle your own liquors, wines, oils, and vinegars straight from the oak casks. With over 100 selections to choose from including liquors (e.g., absinthe emmanuelle, tiramisu cream), cocktails (e.g., caipirinha limette and the best-selling blood oranges and vodka) wines (e.g., Gold cuvee sparkling wine with 23 carat gold leaves, ) oils (e.g., evening primrose, pistachio), and vinegars (e.g., mango, aged balsamic) it's hard to pick just one.
After your selection, it doesn't get much easier. You have over 70 selection of bottles to choose from. For souvenirs, pick the Eiffel Tower bottles. For something more sophisticated, choose the artful glass blown decanters with colorful glass stoppers. Depending on your choices, plan to spend 10-20 euros for a small bottle.
8. Paris "Cafe-Ware" - Enchanted by the signature white dinnerware, teacups, saucers, and snack dishes that are ubiquitous at every Paris cafe? Stop by La Vaissellerie and bring the Parisan cafe style home with you. Prices are economical - around 2-4€ for most pieces.
Boutiques are located around Paris. Addresses: 322 rue St. Honore, 1e; 80 bd Haussmann, 8e; 85 rue de Rennes, 6e; 79 rue St. Lazare, 9e; 92 rue St. Antoine, 4e
Looking for a more intimate gift, read our Sexy Souvenirs: Guide to Buying Lingerie in Paris.