The next time you're in France, forget the classic souvenir shops and explore the aisles of the supermarket nearest you to get the coolest and most thoughtful gifts for your friends and family.
Whenever you travel, everyone back home always asks for a souvenir. So, you probably end up buying them the typical items: magnets, keychains, and t-shirts. Personally, though, I am not a big fan of these kinds of gifts. I like to get the people I love more authentic items, like the kinds of things locals buy at the supermarket.
So, I have compiled a list of 6 great-value-for-your-money French products that you can buy at any supermarket on your next trip to France. They will make you look good with your friends and family, and you can also enjoy them yourself when you get home.
Petit Beurre Cookies
It is a typical biscuit from Nantes, and the recipe dates back to 1886. It is rectangular and has 52 "teeth" along its edges. The idea is that you can eat one every day. Its shape represents time: the 52 bits that stick out (the teeth) represent the number of weeks in a year. The four corners represent the seasons. It measures 7 centimeters, representing the 7 days of the week. And the 24 tiny holes represent the hours of the day. Basically, if you love butter, these cookies will become your new favorites.
Dijon is a strong mustard, so you should use it in moderation. It is one of the most consumed condiments in France. You will usually find it in glass containers, so the black and brown seeds are clearly visible. It goes really well with meat and mashed potatoes.
Marseille Soap or Savon de Marseille
It is a gentle soap composed of 72% vegetable oil. It was first produced in the 14th century by a family from Marseille, and the first sale of the product was registered around 1370. If possible, look for the handmade kind. Also, it has to be made with olive oil (look for Sodium Olivate in the ingredients list), not palm oil. The soap should be green, with no scent or artificial coloring, and -of course- made in France.
Camembert is a fresh cheese from Normandy that is easy to preserve, so you can take it with you even on a long flight (just wrap it in plastic, so it doesn't stink up your luggage). This cheese is a gastronomic icon of France, just as much as the baguette or the croissant. It goes great on freshly baked bread, or with apples, pears, or walnuts.
Look for a decent Bordeaux (any bottle costing 10 Euros and up will be good enough, but I do not recommend spending more than 20 Euros). If you are debating between two brands, go for the one that has an agricultural medal. Pro tip: the Bordeaux from 2009 and 2010 is generally very good.
Sophie la girafe or Sophie the Giraffe
This last product I'm recommending is especially for babies and toddlers. It is a baby toy recommended for kids from 0 to 2 years, found in any large supermarket in France, or even in drugstores. The toy is only 18 centimeters tall and is very light. It was created in 1961, and it's made of a soft natural rubber and makes a squeaky noise when pressed, so children love to bite it. Small hands can easily grasp the legs and the neck. If you pay attention, you will see that many babies in France are playing with their own Sophie la girafe.
So, have I convinced you to get your French souvenirs at the supermarket? Which product would you buy?
Cover Photo: @brizarm
Are you a travel buff? What are your favorite tips for buying inexpensive souvenirs for your loved ones when you travel? Do you have more ideas for travelling on a budget? Write a 500-word article and send it to [email protected] for a chance to be published in our platform!
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