Of course you want to take a little piece of Paris home with you. Like Proust’s famous madeleine episode in his seven-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past, a good souvenir should provoke a flood of memory, transporting you back to good times past in a flash. The best souvenirs will be intertwined with memories of your experiences in the city—a meal, a shopping trip, a powerful artistic experience, or perhaps a night out. But if you’re wanting to take a souvenir home to give to a friend or loved one—and you’d like something more original than an Eiffel Tower key ring, snow globe, or mug—there are countless only-in-Paris spots to pick up a special memento, be it a heady French perfume, handmade confections, or jewelry that captures the city’s bohemian spirit. Whatever item or items you choose, you can leave with the knowledge that Paris is never too far away.
Astier de Villatte
This exquisite crockery is handmade in Paris of white-glazed terracotta and inspired by 19th-century designs. Take home a beautiful teacup or plate. The beautifully decorated rickety old store is a dose of atmosphere alone. It also sells scented candles named after places, including Paris landmarks “Rue St. Honoré” or “Opéra.”
This contemporary Paris perfumer makes a delicious range of perfumes and colognes for men and women. Inspired by the city of Paris, the brand uses the zinc of the Paris rooftops for the bottle tops on its men’s scents, and its travel spray bottles. The Paris boutique also features an animated scene of the city skyline. This stylish brand remains known to insiders only, making a gift that bit more special.
The historic Parisian patisserie made the macaroons for Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film “Marie Antoinette.” These little delicacies, in an exquisite pastel palette, are an instant shot of Parisian indulgence and refinement. If macaroons won’t travel far, Ladurée also make a range of other sturdier sweet treats, including finger biscuits and chocolates, sold in beautiful ornate gift boxes.
The historic candle-maker dates back to 1643 and supplied the royal court of Louis XIV, as well as most of the great churches of France. Today, it continues to produce a beautiful range of candles for the home, including perfumed ones in glass, with evocative signature scents such as La Marquise, “This perfume at once tender and clever, keeps up all the sharpness of Madame de Pompadour's conversations and the voluptuous charms of the Rocaille chic.”
This jewelry workshop and boutique by the Canal St. Martin makes delicate pieces with quirky touches. The brand collaborates with a range of French craftsmen including feather-makers, flower-makers, enamel workers, and embroiderers to make unexpected combinations of color, texture, and material. Its chic and bohemian Parisian spirit will surely be a hit for the folks back home.