Stuck for a fabulous gift idea? Here we look to French culture for inspiration for the best gift ideas – all of which can be ordered online and have a special French twist.
Need to buy a gift for someone who happens to be a Francophile who loves all things French? Forget cheesy French stereotypes and souvenirs, here is a list of unique French gifts any self-respecting, French wannabee would love to receive. All of which you can easily find and order online or in some cases find locally. Find out the best French gift ideas.
1. An authentic French beret
What could be more French? You could buy that French loving friend of yours a run of the mill beret but if you want a truly classic French beret – made in France the traditional way (mostly by hand) – then check out Laulhère. They’ve been making hats for more than 175 years. Prices vary but usually start around USD 35.
2. Oyster knife
A good quality knife to shuck oysters is a great gift for any sophisticated, shell-fish-loving Francophile. Why? Because the French love oysters on the half shell. Every year about 80 thousand tonnes of oysters (les huitres – ‘lay zueetr’) are consumed in France, mostly during Christmas and New Year. If you can’t find a store near you that sells an oyster knife, just order a Laguiole oyster knife online. It will set you back about USD 20 to 40 but it’s a gift they will cherish because Laguiole is a French brand well-known for quality knives and cutlery.
3. Real Champagne
To put it simply, Champagne is sparkling (bubbly) wine from the Champagne region of France otherwise it is not real and by law it cannot be called Champagne; sparkling wine made outside of the Champagne area must be called by another name. For example sparkling wine made in France but outside of the Champagne region is called Crémant. Other names and countries that produce Champagne-like drinks include Prosecco in Italy, Cava in Spain, Sekt in Germany and of course sparkling wine in English-speaking countries.
Beyond the world-famous and extemely expensive Dom Pérignon there are quite a few brands to choose from: Veuve Clicquot, Tattinger, Moët et Chandon, Pommery, Ruinart, Roederer, Mumm, Canard-Duchêne and Charles Heidsieck. Other French champagnes less known are Bollinger, Legras, Lanson, De Castellane, and Krug to name a few.
Also, French Champagne and oysters on the half shell are two things that go well together in France, especially during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
4. A fancy slate cheese board
Why not offer your cheese loving Francophile friend a very chic slate cheese board with some chalk so they can serve and label cheese at their next diner party. If your local store does not have one, you can pick up a slate cheese board online for about USD 20 to 25.
5. Cheese baker for Camembert and Brie
“A lovely gooey baked Camembert with loads of crusty bread for dipping is always a winner,” says Jamie Oliver.
Your friends can re-create the classic French favourite of baked Camembert or baked Brie with a stylish and beautiful cheese baker made to look like an actual cheese round. Make sure you get one big enough to take a standard 8 oz round of Camembert or Brie cheese.
6. Lego Eiffel tower
The Lego Eiffel Tower (around USD 40) is the perfect gift for all your French Francophile friends (that’s a mouthful) who like to build things. Equally great for youngsters interested in France as well.
7. Wooden crepe making tool set
The secret to cooking great crepes is having the right tools. A normal spatula just won’t do. Instead, your crepe loving friends should use a wooden crepe making set (USD 20), which includes a spreader to help get your crepes super thin and a thin wooden spatula to make it easier to flip and serve them without tearing. Sure you can still make descent crepes without these tools but it’s so much easier with the right tools.
8. Crepe pan
Don’t stop at the wooden crepe making tool set. Get your crepe lover a proper crepe pan or an electric crepe griddle. These truly make a difference in your crepe making production.
9. Fleur de sel from Guérande
Whenever people talk about the best salt in the world, Fleur de sel de Guérande usually comes up in the conversation, which is collected by hand from the salt marshes of Bretagne in Guérande France. Fleur de sel de Guérande is normally used while cooking and at the table to enhance flavours. You should be able to find it in many well-stocked grocery stores or online and should set you back USD 15 to 20.
10. Le coq sportif
If you really want to get on the good side of a sporty Francophile then get them something from the French sports brand Le coq sportif (LUH-COK-Spor-TEEF) which means ‘The sporty rooster’. You’ll recognise the brand by the rooster logo.
Started back in 1882, Le coq sportif has been around for over 130 years and has become one of the world’s most prestigious brands, renowned for its clothing, footwear and sporting equipment. A little known fact: the founder, Emile Camuset, invented the sweat suit and sweat pants.
11. Humorous books about France and French life
If you know a Francophile who likes to read and has a good sense of humour, then consider getting them one of the countless books written about French life such as A year in the Merde which means ‘A year in the s–t’.
12. Crème brûlée torch and ramekins
Give your Francophile foody friend the tools they need to re-create the crème brûlée classic French desert with a wonderfully crunchy sugar top. The secret to getting that caramelised sugar topping is using a blow torch, while serving the desert in cute little ramekins just make it look elegant. You would be surprised at just how easy it is to make Crème brûlée.
13. Raclette table top grill
When a friend invited our family to their house to ‘manger la raclette‘ – eat raclette – I had no idea what to expect. I learned it meant melted raclette cheese (which you melt yourself) served over various sliced cold meats, potatoes and cornichons. Raclette is a type of cheese originally from Switzerland and typically used in this meal.
Think Fondue, only each person melts their own cheese by placing a slice of raclette cheese on a mini pan which they place under the electric tabletop raclette grill, usually placed in the centre of the table so everyone can melt their own cheese.
Raclette grills would make a wonderful gift for someone who loves to entertain or wants a fun way to serve family dinners. Having said that, raclette cheese is hard to find outside of France so feel free to substitute with your favourite cheese. I have used Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda and even Parmesan and serve over grilled veggies and potatoes. Watch the video below to see how it’s done.
14. French inspired shower curtain
A shower curtain might seem like a strange gift to give to someone but think about it – who doesn’t need a fresh new shower curtain every so often? So the next time you need a gift for someone’s house warming party, instead of getting a potted plant that will eventually die, look for a French inspired shower curtain.
15. French lessons
Every Francophile’s dream is to be able to speak French so why not gift them online French lessons? Online French lessons have come a long way and you can learn a lot more than from a French text-book.
With online French lessons, they’ll be able to watch videos, listen to audio and take self-directed tests. Plus, online French lessons are much more affordable than one-on-one lessons but almost just as good.
In reality there are thousands of things you could buy for your French-loving friends but hopefully this list of 15 French gifts for your Francophile friends inspires you to pick that perfect gift that enchants their little French hearts.