6 Best Souvenirs From Paris You’ll Want to Buy

Paris is a shopper’s paradise, home to countless luxury boutiques and artisan shops boasting the perfect gift for everyone from your foodie friend to your fashionista roommate, not to mention the ideal keepsake to remind you of your time away. 

And while many of the best souvenirs from Paris from Chanel totes to Caudalie cosmetics can indeed be found in the U.S., there are some things you’ll only find in France. Here are the ones we love best.

A storefront with lots of artwork from Paris.
If you’re looking for something special to remember your trip to Paris or to gift to someone, this list won’t disappoint. Photo credit: Céline

Vintage décor

If your ideal souvenirs from Paris are the ones you’re sure no one else will have, head straight to a flea market or brocante, where Parisians’ trash is sure to be glinting with a handful of treasures. Spend the morning combing the tables for everything from leather-bound volumes of Les Misérables to time-worn antique maps to Limoges platters lovingly cared for by someone’s grand-mère for decades.

The most famous local flea market is undoubtedly Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, located just outside the city limits. Open weekly, this phenomenal labyrinth is actually made up of 16 separate markets, each of which boasts its own speciality. 

While it’s definitely a must for anyone who loves antiques, the popularity of les puces means that it’s not always the best place to find a deal. For that, go instead to the southern Puces de la Porte de Vanves, or check out one of the temporary markets that regularly pop up throughout the city.

Woman looking around at antiques at an antique market.
There’s plenty of unique souvenirs to find at these antiques markets in Paris. Photo credit: Elena Jiang

French supermarket staples

Perhaps the best place to shop for souvenirs from Paris on a budget is the aisle of your local Monoprix – especially if you’re shopping for a foodie. This French answer to Target is home to quite a few gems that are unavailable or prohibitively expensive back home.

Some favorites include flaky sea salt from Le Saunier de Camargue, cheesy aperitif crackers from Michel & Augustin, Petits Ecoliers biscuits coated with a layer of dark chocolate from Lu, or strong mustard from Amora.

Marie Alicia DeGross, restaurant concierge and owner of Mille Mercis Marie (Rue Bichat, 30), a Paris-based boutique travel agency, loves the brand’s foldable tote bags with their pretty Eiffel Tower print, perfect for shopping in style once you get home from visiting Paris.

* Note: As of May 2024 Mille Mercis Marie is temporarily closed.

A Monoprix neon sign after the store has closed in Paris.
Monoprix is the French Target. Have fun getting lost in the aisles and picking up some unique souvenirs. Photo credit: Dmitriy Nushtaev

Francophile memorabilia

Forget about tiny Eiffel Tower trinkets. There are some souvenirs that scream “Paris” without screaming kitsch. Annie O. Waterman, founder of AOW Handmade, loves the classic French linen dish towels from Charvet Editions, which you can pick up at Landline Shop in the 11th arrondissement. 

While DeGross is a fan of the shirts from Maison Labiche inscribed with cute French phrases like “l’amour” or the official café terrasse mugs and espresso cups from Comptoir Richard. She also recommends heading to Galeries Lafayette for magnets of your favorite metro stop or to BHV for “tiny neck scarves with the Paris buildings on them – very tasteful!”

A person holding up a key chain Eiffel Tower in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Don’t settle for stereotypical souvenirs from Paris. Get these instead. Photo credit: Cederic Vandenberghe

French cheeses

While you can get French cheese in the supermarket, true turophiles know instead to head instead to a local fromagerie, where a wealth of options awaits, each wafting more heavenly stink than the next.

When choosing which cheeses to give precious real estate to, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Raw milk fromages aged fewer than 60 days are impossible to come by in American supermarkets.
  • So if you’re a fan of the funk of a true, unpasteurized Epoisses or a creamy raw Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, now is the time to pounce. 

Bear in mind, too, that whole cheeses travel better than pieces, so if you love a bloomy rind, get a whole Coulommiers instead of a wedge of Brie de Meaux. And while hard cheeses like Beaufort and Abondance may be available in the U.S., not only are they cheaper in Paris, but they’ll travel and keep better than their soft friends. 

Whichever ones you choose, make your purchases as close as possible to your departure date as you can, ask your fromager to seal them sous-vide so that they don’t stink up your suitcase or get crushed on the way home.

A cheese shop in France with rows of different cheeses to select as a gift from Paris.
The people sitting next to you on your flight may not appreciate that you brought cheese home from France, but you’ll be happy you did. Photo credit: Eric Prouzet

French chocolate

France might not be quite as well-known as Switzerland or Belgium for its chocolate, but overlooking it is a major faux pas. 

You’ll find delicious single-origin bars made from beans roasted just outside Paris at Chapon, and the beautiful packaging makes this gift nearly as beautiful as it is delicious. 

Master chocolatier François Pralus also makes gorgeous stacks of single-origin bars, with ten countries represented in a pretty pyramid tied with raffia.

A woman walking by François Pralus in France.
Don’t be fooled, Paris has plenty of delicious chocolate you’ll want to bring home for friends to try. Photo credit: Benoît Prieur

Wine and Grower Champagne

While you can certainly find French wine in the U.S., it’s unlikely you’ll find the same selection and price as in Paris. Many small producers choose not to export their wines due to hefty import taxes, so hit up a small local wine shop and ask the caviste for recommendations of bottles you’d be unlikely to find back home–chances are an independent wineseller will have many to recommend.

Of course, every wine drinker has different tastes. If you want to get a nice bottle for your girlfriend’s mom but you can’t remember if she likes red or white, grower Champagne is a surefire crowd-pleaser, made by small producers who don’t sell their grapes to the big houses and instead make their wine from start-to-finish.

woman shopping for French wine
Bring back some great French wine. Photo credit: Lucía Montenegro

French cosmetics

French cosmetics are nearly as popular as Korean ones, as the lines at CityPharma can attest. La Roche-Posay sunscreen is some of the best, and while it’s available elsewhere, in France, you’ll find it in all formats from sprays to lotions, and at far more reasonable prices. Caudalie produces phenomenal paraben-free cosmetics whose active ingredients are derived from wine grapes, for a totally French flair.

Paris-based travel journalist and guidebook author Lane Nieset loves the offerings from Buly, as you can customize the cosmetics boxes to suit your whims, though she’s a particular fan of the all-natural Baume des Muses lip balm.

“The turn-of-the-century-inspired case is customizable, so you can choose one of more than a dozen shades and have initials stamped in gilded letters,” she says. “It even comes in a sleek velvet pouch, which will make this gift even more exciting to unwrap.”

A row of perfume at a French shopping market.
France is well-known for their cosmetics, making it a perfect gift for someone special back home. Photo credit: alexey turenkov
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About the author

I was born and raised in New York, but in 2007, I moved to Paris, and via a series of strange events, I ended up making the French capital my permanent home. I work as journalist, navigating the world of culture shock and, of course, writing about food and drink for various publications including The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, and EatingWell. I also pen a weekly newsletter, Emily in France, to keep folks in the loop about my tastiest new discoveries, and my blog, Tomato Kumato, is home to my restaurant reviews. I also give food tours of Paris’ Marais with Paris by Mouth.

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