Forget about the tiny, metal Eiffel Tower, the overpriced bottle of wine, the oh-so-chic, made-in-China cotton handbag with “Paris” written all over it, and the duty-free bottle of Chanel bought in a rush at CDG, this is what you need to bring from France to your friends abroad:
1. Vahiné’s galette des rois kit
These packages full of baking goodness are worth the 3.90 euros you’re going to spend at the local Leclerc. I personally vote for the frangipane version; nothing says “France is beyond awesome” like an almond and butter-filled pie.
Not only is it tasty, 100% French, and proves that you can think out of the box, but it will also be fun for those at the receiving end of this gift: they’ll bake it, hide the porcelain charm in a large chunk of unhealthy fat, eat it, and wear a paper crown!
You may have trouble finding it outside of December and January, but no worries, there’s plenty more below to please those waiting at home.
2. Breizh Cola
Behold the king of colas! The pride of Brittany!
Bretons have quite the sense of humour: they took the most well-known product in the world, mixed their own version right here in France, and made all of France proud with “le cola du phare ouest” (get it?). No, it’s not the most traditional French product, but you’re more likely to find a bottle of Breizh cola in a French home than a 1985 Châteauneuf-du-pape.
3. Huile prodigieuse de Nuxe
This is the perfect gift for those who still believe France is the epitome of chic and glamour. No need to spend a fortune at Sephora on brand names perfumes and lotions, just walk into the nearest drugstore and grab a 20-euro bottle of huile prodigieuse de Nuxe. If Cosmo, Elle, Glamour, and Marie-Claire praise it, you can bet you’ll make someone happy and moisturized.
4. A bag of Carambars
Carambars are THE candy every French person used to eat as a kid. I lost a baby tooth in a caranougat (the caramel kind) and my mom remembers when they were sold for 0.05 Francs at the corner store in the 1960s — I’ll tell you, it does not get more authentically French than that. Grab a large bag of them for a couple euros at the supermarket and make some foreigner smile before being held responsible for the decay of all their teeth. Don’t forget to read the joke inside the wrapper before showing the lucky recipients the proper way to eat it: bend the candy, stick it along your front gums, and smile like a simple-minded junk-food addict.
5. A copy of Charlie Hebdo
If you’re looking for a present for a French speaker with a good dose of humour and open-mindedness, get them a copy of Charlie Hebdo. Not only will you give them the gift of French satire and journalism, but you’ll support a paper that represents France’s freedom of press and you’ll show those who want to annihilate it that it’s never going to happen.
6. A box of Lu’s petits beurres
Forget La Durée’s macaroons: First, you must be in Paris to get them and God knows there’s more to France than its capital. Second, you probably have to queue for an hour on the Champs-Elysées before you get to empty your wallet for something that’s good, but got very much blown out of proportions. On the other hand, Lu’s petits beurres may not be as decadent, but they are what real French people eat when they want a treat. You won’t break the bank, they won’t take much space in your luggage, and you’re going to give someone to gift of a genuine French experience.