Of all the cities I’ve been to, Paris is the city I feel the most compelled to shop in. Over the years, I’ve treasured all my Paris souvenirs accumulated from multiple visits.
My readers do too, in fact, some of my most asked questions are what should I buy in Paris? What are the best places to shop in Paris? What are the top Paris souvenirs? It seems like everyone wants to bring a piece of this magical city home!
It’s not that Paris has the best unique souvenirs (I’d pick Japan for that). There is just something about Paris– the streets, the ambiance, the romance of it all that puts me in shopping mood.
But figuring out what to buy in Paris for the is not as easy as you would think– you’ll find a lot of the same tchotchke type stuff all around the city (even in the high-end department stores!).
Which is a shame when you want to bring home a special gift to remember Paris by (and who doesn’t, because Parisian memories are always special).
When planning my own trips to Paris, I’ve tried to get Paris souvenir ideas beforehand by googling the best/top Paris souvenirs. But I kept seeing the same rehashed lists, probably all copying from each other, and it never appeared that the writer actually brought any of their “recommended” Paris souvenirs and gifts home.
So in this post I sought to reach beyond those trite souvenir lists, and come up with a more comprehensive Parisian souvenir and gift shopping guide, compiled by my own experiences as well as those of friends, family and readers.
While these souvenirs are not all Paris specific (some items come from other parts of France) they can all be easily found in Paris. Some of the Parisian souvenirs ideas are edible, some are costly, some are absolutely free– I tried to cover the full range, including gift ideas from Paris.
Note, if you are interested in the best discount shopping in Paris, I wrote two separate articles on this topic, including a guide to Paris outlet stores (shockingly there are many right in the city center) and a favorite Parisian thrift store, similar to a Goodwill store.
If you have a great Parisian souvenir not listed here, please share in the comments, I would love to add it to the list!
Top Paris Souvenirs and Gifts to Bring Home (in no particular order)
1. French Macarons, the Most Requested Paris Souvenir!
The gorgeous tiffany blue shopfront and glittering chandeliers will lure you into Laduree. But the real souvenir treat is safely ensconced behind glass, the one and only macaron.
Not to be confused with the similar-sounding, but very different, coconut macaroon, a macaron is a delicate, meringue-based cookie. In the French macaron, two light-as-air, crispy shells surround a creamy center, usually made of ganache, butter cream or jam.
2. French Soap Souvenir– An affordable Paris souvenir
Soap has been crafted in France since the middle ages. While it’s not really a made in Paris thing, you’ll find plenty of soaps from all over France, including those famous bars from Provence and Marseille.
Or you can skip the fancy brands out there, and opt for this cheap bar of French supermarket soap (about 1.5 euros). Available in a variety of scents, my favorites are the orange blossom and savon au lait (milk). (For more French supermarket souvenir ideas, check out my very popular post here).
3. Stamped Book from Shakespeare & Company an Original Paris Souvenir
Looking for a unique souvenir from Paris that no one else has? Pick out a favorite book of your choosing and get it stamped!
Shakespeare and Company is the famous English language expat bookstore, a stone’s throw from Notre Dame. Once the hangout of writers and artists like Hemingway, and Fitzgerald, the store maintains its ramshackle charm and remains largely unchanged.
Pick up a book and have the staff stamp the inside for the perfect souvenir gift for any book lover. To read more about visiting Shakespeare and Company, check out my full post here.
4. French Chocolate Souvenir
No matter what country I visit, chocolate almost always makes my top souvenir list. Each country has their own way of making chocolate that makes it distinct.
French chocolate is traditionally darker and more heavily roasted than Belgian or Swiss chocolate, which can be milkier and creamier. But these days, you’ll find all sorts of French chocolate no matter your palate, from milky light to dark.
When in Paris, I skip the mini chains like Maison du Chocolat (I have a branch a few blocks from me in New York City) and look for unique local purveyors. Some of my favorites include Benoit chocolates in the Marais and this chocolate shop in the 4th that is as beautiful as it is delicious– the historic Debauve and Gallais.
5. French Baguette Accessories Souvenir
Paris is filled with bakeries (called boulangeries en francais) offering crusty baguettes. Unfortunately, Parisian baguettes have an incredibly short shelf life (a day at best) and are best enjoyed in the moment.
But while it doesn’t make sense to bring a French baguette home, you can pick up baguette accessories as souvenirs. A local boulangerie chain, Polaine, had an excellent selection of baguette-related souvenirs, including cutting boards, knives and even a custom cloth bag to tote your baguette around in.
6. Picasso Cubist Souvenirs
If you are a fan of Picasso, you are probably aware that he spent many of his days in Paris, and derived much of his inspiration here. I visited the Picasso Museum on my last trip to Paris and absolutely adored it. Housed in a gorgeous mansion, the museum is worth a visit for the setting alone.
Pick up a Picasso Paris souvenir in the well curated gift shop.
7. Tea Souvenirs from Mariage Freres
Founded in 1854, Mariage Freres is a high-end, elegant tea shop, carrying unique blends and is the best place in Paris to buy tea. While tea lovers will adore this shop, even the less tea obsessed will appreciate the gorgeous design of the store, with the chic black tins adorning the walls.
8. French Candy Souvenirs to Bring home from Paris
While I never thought of the French as candy fanatics (unlike other cultures like Sweden and Japan), there still is tasty candy to be sampled in Paris. I stuck with traditional classics, the kind of candy the French remember from their childhood. Find them in the supermarket around Paris like Monoprix, to read more check out my post here.
9. Angelina Bottled Hot Chocolate Souvenir
Angelina Tea House is one of the most famous patisseries and cafes in Paris, well known for its rich hot chocolate. Pick up a bottle of ready made hot chocolate to heat up at home (and read all about my Angelina experience and their delicious pastries in my post here).
10. Discount Paris Designer Fashion Souvenirs from an Outlet Store
Paris is synonymous with high fashion, which if you can afford, makes for a great souvenir. But for those of us on a budget, you can still bring home a French designer look for a fraction of the cost by shopping at bona fide outlet stores in the heart of Paris. Think French brand names you love like Sandro.
11. Table Setting Souvenirs from the Iconic Cafe de Flore
Paris is well known for its famous bistros and brassieres so you may want to visit an old school brassiere in St. Germain. Once the hangout of philosophers and writers like Hemingway, Cafes like Brasserie Lipp, Cafe Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore have barely changed over the decades.
While you can’t bring home your dinner, you can recreate the atmosphere back home by picking up a mug, bowl, pitcher or complete table setting. souvenir. At Cafe de Flore, head up to stairwell to view the glass case showcasing all their table setting souvenirs.
12. Free Souvenir from Paris– Paper Placemat from your Favorite French Bistro
Some of the best Paris souvenirs are absolutely free. If the table settings at Cafe de Flore above are too outrageously priced or cumbersome to bring home, consider a free, highly packable alternative– those paper placements at your favorite french bistro.
My friend Meg snared several on her last trip to Paris and plans to laminate them so they can be used back home.
13. Crepe mix from Briezh cafe– An Edible Paris Souvenir
French crepes are absolutely legendary. My only regret from my last Paris trip was that I did not eat more crepes. One of my favorite meals on the entire trip were the savory and dessert crepes from the highly recommended Briezh cafe in the Marais.
While I don’t ordinarily frequent “top” places because of the inevitable waits, Briezh was only a couple of blocks from my Airbnb in the Marais. We lucked out and didn’t have to wait (we sat in their shop, which had one dining table, adjacent to the restaurant– I really couldn’t have asked for a better seat!)
Sitting in the Briezh shop worked out well for this souvenir finder, as we waited for our crepes I explored the merchandise (cookbooks, caramels, and 1 kilogram sacks of crepe mix).
14. French Beret Souvenir– A Typical Paris Souvenir
I created this Parisian souvenir list to be all inclusive, so I couldn’t leave off the French beret. Sure it’s a cliché, but if you can rock a beret with aplomb, there is no better place to pick one up than Paris. You’ll find them everywhere, from cheap versions from street vendors to cashmere versions at luxury boutiques.
14. Floppy French Hat– A Cinematic Parisian Souvenir
While the classic beret might be better known, the floppy French hat is a bit more wearable. Despite being worn more by instagrammers than the actual French, the floppy hat remains a Paris souvenir favorite. You’ll find stacks of these floppy hats at any street vendor.
15. French pharmacy items– the Best Paris Souvenirs You’ll use back home.
French pharmacies are legendary for their array of skin care and beauty products. While many French pharmacy items can be found in the US, the prices are often double what they are in Paris. I also found the selection of items to be far superior in Paris.
16. French Lingerie Souvenirs– A Classic Paris Souvenir
French lingerie in my opinion is the best in the world. Not only is it beautiful, but the fit is generally far superior than the poorly cut lingerie from US chain stores. You’ll find boutique French lingerie shops along Rue Saint Honore, and sprinkled throughout the Marais.
Or hit any of the department stores for a selection of French lingerie brands.
17. French Sponges as a Paris Souvenir- Cheap, Affordable and Usable
I know, this sounds ridiculous, but I always pick up French sponges when in Paris. They are made from vegetable and feel quite nice in the hand, unlike synthetic materials. Cheap and light, French sponges are a fun reminder of Paris when I am back home doing mundane tasks like the dishes. These sponges are also included on my best Paris souvenirs list from Monoprix.
18. Gourmet French Food Souvenirs from Fauchon, Paris
Founded in 1886, like many fancy gourmet stores, Fauchon had its start as a fruit and vegetable stall. Now it’s part bakery, patisserie, wine shop and cafe.
My favorite French souvenirs here are the chocolates and jams (pricey but worth it). If you miss one of the Parisian branches, the airport duty free carries an ample selection of Fauchon products.
19. French Jam Souvenir: Failsafe Top Souvenir from Paris
French jam is delicious, whether you go with a supermarket brand or seek out specialty jams. Look for Christine Ferber jams, available at Polaine bakeries and gourmet shops around the city for an extra special souvenir from Paris.
20. Maille Mustard Souvenir: a Fun Paris visit and Inexpensive Souvenir
The Maille mustard shop does not sell your standard supermarket mustard. Stocked with a dizzying variety of mustard combinations you never thought possible, it is impossible not to find a unique Paris souvenir here.
Don’t miss the fresh mustards pumped out on the premises and packaged in beautiful ceramic containers. Your purchases will be elegantly wrapped in Maille’s signature black paper, perfect for gifting. For my full post on visiting the Maille shop, read it here.
21. French Truffles: a luxury Paris souvenir
I adore truffles, both black and white, Italian or French, no matter. So when I spied an entire shop and restaurant devoted to truffles, I had to stop in.
One side of the Maison de la Truffe is a restaurant with the most decadent menu imaginable. The other side is a shop filled with all varieties of French truffles (and a healthy assortment of foie gras).
22. French Butter Souvenir
French butter makes everything taste better. You’ll find butter from all the different regions of France (llook for those from dairy rich Normandy). If you are wondering who stuffs their suitcase with butter, it’s me, I do.
23. Indie French Fashion Souvenirs
I am always on the lookout for reasonably priced, made in France fashions that I can’t get in the US. In Paris, shop the Marais for an assortment of French brands that aren’t available in your local stores back home.
I also liked the mini chain Antoine & Lili for their colorful and reasonably priced sweaters and dresses (I’ve owned mine for years and still wear them).
24. Made in France Handbag: one of the Best souvenirs from Paris
What I love about purses as souvenirs is that it is something you can use every day back home and remember fondly where you bought it.
The handbags at Brontibay, a shop in the Marais were well-constructed with a nice attention to detail (each bag had a pretty satin lining). When I first I glanced at the labels and realized that the handbags were actually made in France I expected some sticker shock.
Instead, I experienced a rare case of reverse sticker shock– the handbags were not only inexpensive but downright cheap at about 80-200 euros per bag. Small accessories like change purses went for considerably less, making the shop a great spot for gifts. For my full post read about it here.
25. Scarf from Flagship Hermes: A Luxury Souvenir Gift from Paris
It’s true you can buy Hermes silk scarves in their shops all over the world. But for Hermes lovers, there is something special about visiting the flagship store in Paris. I have a dozen Hermes scarves of various sizes and my favorite way to wear them is as a colorful hair accessory, folded into a purse, or as a tube top.
It’s also almost always cheaper to buy Hermes items in Paris rather than the US, so why not splurge on that Hermes scarf you’ll have forever.
26. Elegant Paris Souvenirs from the Museum of Decorative Arts Gift Shop
I love visiting museum gift shops, but often times art museums can be pretty limited in the items they carry (think tote bags, art books and coffee mugs).
I scoured the gift shops in Paris and my favorite for unique items that I didn’t see in every gift shop was the Museum of Decorative Arts. This shop carried lots of home decor items and interesting costume jewelery, it’s definitely worth a look.
27. A big glossy French fashion or design magazine: a Cheap Paris Souvenir
If you love big beautiful photos and Parisian fashion or design, consider picking up a glossy magazine to throw on your coffee table at home. Visit a news stand (now so rare in my home city of New York) and peruse the gorgeous options.
28. French Cheese: the Best Paris Souvenir
I love all French cheese– cow or goat, stinky or mild, hard or soft. While of course you can buy French cheese in the US, there is just so much delicious cheese that never makes it out of France (in particular raw milk cheeses).
If I was going to name a single souvenir as the best Paris souvenir, I would have to say cheese. In fact my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.
I always try to bring back as much French cheese as possible, especially if traveling colder months. Look for cheese at shops called fromageries (I had not one but several fromageries within walking distance of my Marais apartment).
For variety, I also pick up some cheap supermarket cheese, simply because I’m shocked at how delicious a two euro cheese from the grocery store can be.
29. A Souvenir from the Bouquinistes along the banks of the Seine
The bouquinistes (vendor stalls) lined up along the Seine are made for browsing. Whether it’s a vintage post card or a hand drawn sketch or painting, it can be fun to pick up a little something from these stalls.
30. Eiffel Tower Souvenirs: A Typical Paris Souvenir
While I ordinarily skip tacky souvenirs of big tourist attractions, sometimes I just have to give in to the tackiness.
Eiffel Tower souvenirs are one of those times, I just cannot resist souvenirs representing that famous spire. On this last trip I brought home both an Eiffel Tower mug and a mini replica.
I bought the tiny replica for fun to photograph around Paris but back home I use it to hold rings.
31. Parisian Thrift Store Finds as a Discount Paris Souvenir
I love stumbling across the random and there is no better (and cheaper) place to do this than at a Parisian thrift shop. Find out what French people get rid of, and bring home a prize. Read more about my Parisian thrift store adventures in this post.
32. Vintage Jewelry from St. Paul Village as a Unique one of a kind Paris Souvenir
I like vintage shopping, but find the whole process overwhelming, especially in a big city like Paris. I’m not enough of a vintage fanatic to track down remote shops, but do enjoy browsing if they happen to be convenient.
St. Paul Village, in the heart of the historic Marais district, was everything I could ask for in vintage shopping– extremely convenient, self-contained and atmospheric. The “village” is comprised of vintage and other shops in a maze of cobbled courtyards, fun exploring on their own (and instagram worthy).
While you’ll find all sorts of vintage items here, I especially loved the costume jewelry. Look for a full post on St. Paul Village coming soon.
33. Marinere T Shirt: a Classic French Souvenir
While more Brittany than Parisian, the Mariniere striped sailor t shirt is still quintessentially French and available all around Paris. The t shirt also makes a cute and budget friendly Paris souvenir for kids.
34. Shopping bag from Monoprix: a Cheap Paris Souvenir
You can go crazy at Monoprix (or any French supermarket) like I did– read my super popular post on what to buy at a Monoprix here. If you don’t want to haul home French groceries, a cheap souvenir you’ll definitely use back home are iconic Monoprix shopping bags, easily recognizable by the cherry red color and apple design.
35. Ballet flats from Repetto: An always classic French shoe
Although Parisian women these days sport cool chic sneakers as much as anyone else, the classic ballet flat is still very French. Repetto is one of the best known makers of ballet flats, and is also a great spot for souvenirs for your favorite ballerina (they also sell dance attire and real ballet shoes).
36. French Honey
If you’re strolling though the Marias, don’t miss the Miel Factory and the assortment of delicious local honey.
37. French Champagne: a Most Wanted Souvenir
The Champagne regions of Epernay and Reims are not far from Paris, and would make a great day trip. If you’re short on time you can simply stock up on Champagne in Paris. Look for smaller producers not readily available back home.
38. Real Absinthe: a French Souvenir banned in the US
Absinthe is an anise-flavoured spirit made from various botanicals and herbs, including wormwood, green anise and sweet fennel. It’s lore as the “green fairy” stems from the presence of the chemical thujone, which is said to have psychedelic effects.
While absinthe is legal in the US, it cannot contain thujone (or contain only trace amounts). In France, much higher thujone levels are permitted in Absinthe.
39. French Perfume: a Luxury Parisian Gift Souvenir
Paris, along with the city of Grasse, has been an eipcenter of a perfume-making tradition since medieval times. Look for classic French brands like Fragonard and Guerlain, or pick up a bespoke scent from a local perfum shop for a truly unique Paris souvenir. Perfume is also a beautiful gift (provided you can guess the recipient’s scent preferences).
40. Fleur de Sel
Fleur de Sel can be pricey to buy at gourmet stores in the US, so if you have the suitcase space it makes sense to buy a big sack of it to bring home. You can divvy up your fancy salts into individual baggies for inexpensive gifts.
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What are your favorite Paris souvenirs? Share in the comments below!