Here's an easy and quick way to find the perfect French Christmas gifts for the francophile in your life – if you can't visit France right now, that doesn't mean you can't indulge in her bounty.
So I've done some of the legwork for you, because I wouldn't want you to miss out just because you can't visit right now!
Whether these special France inspired gifts bring back memories or entice you towards new ones, you'll enjoy the inimitable French feeling they each provide.
French christmas gifts: your 2020 list
Here in France, we have a robust gift-giving tradition and we make a special effort to give our loved ones something truly personal they will cherish.
If you cannot buy a gift in France, you can certainly buy a gift from France or a gift about France. Below I've selected some personal favourites, some that I own myself and others that I wouldn't mind so while my choices are personal, I've tried to vary them so that they might appeal to you too!
Now, let's go shopping!
French Cooking Gifts
For many of us, thinking of France means thinking of food (or wine, or anything closely related). It should therefore be no surprise that foodie gifts make up one of the largest sections on this gift guide.
Whether it's to learn about food, prepare the food or eat the food, you'll find something here to take the edge off your appétit.
These little helpmates will get you into a true Christmas spirit, because what is Christmas without Christmas cookies, right? (I just made that up but I do love my cookies.) A set of these may fool you into thinking you're in the movie Ratatouille (that celebrity chef undoubtedly had similar ones in his kitchen). Look closely – these aren't your everyday cookie shapes but each is especially designed for Christmas baking.
We already know that France is the country of cheese, with more than 1600 varieties (although in truth, I don't know anyone who has sat down and counted them). But if you love cheese, especially French cheeses, you'll want to share the goodness with this cheese selection, which comes with a cheese knife and, how conveniently, is delivered gift wrapped so you won't really have to lift a finger.
And what better to go with your cheese than this set? Of course you could use your regular kitchen knife with your French cheese, but... why would you? Maybe we're a little snobby about it but slicing cheese with the proper implements simply makes it taste better. Really. Add in the classic "marinière" design and you'll have a truly French table.
Any respectable French meal (not just breakfast!) ends with coffee and I'm seriously contemplating this Rolls-Royce of French presses. It is made of stainless steel (my glass one broke) so it's solid − and your morning coffee will stay warm a lot longer than in a glass jar. It's a one liter measurement so you'll be able to serve the entire family or a small dinner party without having to rush back and forth for individual cups.
Don't know how to cook French food? Well, here's a starter. This delightful book may be meant for cooking with your young ones but if you don't have children at home, you'll still love the presentation and simplicity of these classic recipes. This has everything you'll ever need: accessories, what to keep in your pantry, special kid-friendly (or beginner adult) instructions, all divided into mealtimes so you can easily pick your meal and go from there.
What better French gifts for Christmas than something you can look at throughout the season?
So many people collect Christmas ornaments! But if you want one that reminds you of France, this hand-painted resin Santa ornament made by Jim Shore is not your everyday gift. It is designed to show off different aspects of France − the Eiffel Tower, the fleur de lys symbol and the wine bottle on the tray, to mention a few.
vintage, vintage everything
The latest trend is to refashion things so that they can be worn or used today. Call it recycling or what you wish, but built-in obsolescence is making us less keen to use things only a few times and then change models.
It's all such a waste!
These days, we know better and we want to repurpose grandmother's wide belts. Not only that, but the sheer quantity of cheap new items has sometimes torn us away from tradition.
Here, then, is our chance to renew with some of those old items we had lost from view...
The first thing that attracted me in this shop were the antique nibs and inkwells. What a great gift for a writer! But there's so much more here and you'll be hard-pressed NOT to find the ideal Christmas gift. Take your pick from lamps, art, religious symbols, home decor and jewellery. Have a browse around the French Curiosity Shop, the Curiosités Françaises. It's like visiting your own flea market online.
I couldn't resist this sophisticated but risqué coin dish (with its semi-nude woman), just one of many vintage decor items, both Art Nouveau and Art Deco, you'll find in this wonderful little shop, Visit France Upon A Time.
If you're looking for the perfect Christmas present for a lover of vintage or antique French trinkets, statuettes or postcards, you'll find it here. And yes, très français!
Nothing screams vintage as loudly as doilies. You'll find a huge selection at Hasbeencraft, with plenty of colours and shapes, all to remind you of the ones that once graced grand-mère's living room. In these days of machine knits from China, finding authentic hand-crocheted doilies from an era gone by is a real luxury (but not at luxury prices).
This is where you'll come if you want top of the line French antique decorative items for your home. No knick-knacks, just unique pieces you can ooh and aah about, from plates to candelabra, at all price points.
French Gifts for Her
I don't know what I like more, the scented soaps or the box they come in! These authentic soaps are created with perfumes from Grasse, the world's perfume capital. Even the names of the soaps remind me of Provence: Joie (Joy), Rose, Douce (soft) and Provence itself. Close your eyes and you'll think you're surrounded by lavender fields...
This beautiful hand-dyed French scarf is one-of-a-kind, but the good news is that at Ticik Art, you'll find plenty of different sizes and colours – but only one of each, so you can be sure your gift will be unique. Each scarf is lovingly fashioned from silk and has hand-rolled edges, as all REAL handmade scarves do. If you don't find the perfect one, Urska, the shop's owner, will even make one to measure for you, with the colours you want in the size you prefer. If you're looking for French gifts for mom or daughter or anyone else, this is one place you'll find them.
From Celine blouses to Lanvin scarves, the Dowop Vintage Shop is stuffed with vintage items from the past century. I'd love to link to individual items but this shop tends to have one of each only – so best to go browse for yourself. I found several pieces I'd love to have, all at reasonable prices. Belts and bags, too!
something for the little ones
These fabulous French dolls are made with amigurumi, the crochet technique that involves sewing and stuffing. Une Pelote de Laine (which means a ball of wool) is a little French shop that specializes in these dolls and bunnies, crafted individually and which make perfect gifts for newborns, showers or a Christmas gift.
Christmas gifts for men
These bracelets may make a great gift for the men in your life but frankly, I'd be happy to wear one myself. Very cool! The Marenostrum shop makes several models but that makes it difficult to choose because they are all so tempting. Some are leather, others hemp or paracord, but each is special (and I suspect you might come away with more than one).
This may be under the category "for men" but that's only because I needed to fill out this section! Men always seem to be harder to buy gifts for... and there are plenty here BUT women who love French cars will love this shop too. If you're a French vehicle fan, from the Citroen 2CV to the classic Renault 4L, you'll find a T-shirt, cap or tote here to fuel that nostalgia.
Of course anyone can own an Opinel, and in France, almost everyone does, at least in the Alpine region in which I live (and where the knife originated). It is simple in design, comes in several sizes, and hasn't changed an iota since it was first designed more than a century ago. In fact it is considered one of the best-designed items in the world. It is, simply, a classic French icon and while men have a tendency to own more pocketknives than women, we like our Opinels too!
Christmas gifts for everyone
These French Christmas presents are for everyone – family, friends or colleagues. They can be as personal or as impersonal as you like, with special meaning or with a broader significance that simply says, "Merry Christmas". Have fun!
This great calendar is perfect for lovers of Paris who can never get enough of dreamy photography. From the Eiffel Tower to classic cafés to hidden corners of the city, these individual pages will have the year flying by, all in very Parisian style. You'll enjoy the perfect armchair tour of Paris (although the temptation to cheat and get ahead will be great!)
If you have someone in your life who wants to (or should!) learn French, here's a fun way to do it. The vocabulary is designed for beginners, especially travelers, with useful words and phrases for situations you are likely to encounter in France. They come in a smart carrying box and are perfect for people who don't really want to use a language app or carry a phrasebook or dictionary in their luggage.
Have a French bulldog? Know someone who does? Look no further than this mug! You know what to do.
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