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May 22, 2009 04:41 AM

What to bring home (US) from France?

What would you bring home from France? What things are cheaper here than in the US or much better? I live in California where we have good olive oil, spices, etc. so I am trying to figure out what to stuff in the bags. Of course abiding by customs regulations!

I think chocolate (certainly fine chocolates are cheaper here), mustard, almond paste?, jams with interesting fruits? chestnuts, all seem cheaper, but maybe I am off.

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  1. One thing I've brought to people is chestnut cream, used for filling crepes or just about anything else. I'm sure it exists in the US, but I've never seen it there - at least not at affordable prices.
    Another thing I've brought for my parents (at their request) is honey. I think it's legal - I've never been stopped by customs, at least. France has so many different types of honey - try the chestnut plant honey and the "Honey of the forest" for two unique varieties.

    2 Replies
    1. re: anakalia

      Go to the Maille store and buy a container of "fresh" mustard. It needs to be refrigerated, but if you put it in your luggage right before you leave (wrapped in bubble wrap), it will still be cool when you get home. And the best of all...before you leave for the airport stop at Poilane and buy a big round of their amazing sourdough bread. It will be great for toast and you can freeze the rest of it. It makes the transition back to "real life" much easier. Have a great trip!

      1. re: DaisyM

        Spot on regarding the moutarde as well as Poilane. l try to bring things back l cannot get in USA, don't bring stuff to save money. Absinthe, chartreuse VEP, Hot chocolate powder from Angelina, very strange cheeses

    2. We cart off whatever we enjoyed on the latest trip and carries well. This time it was three bottles each of a nice red and a nice white, 5#s or so of cheap chocolate, two salad dressings, some mustard, some pickles and some cookies. Our thing is to open one package every little while to savor again "the taste" of Paris and think about making plans for the next visit.

      1. Fleur de sel
        Preserves of fruits not available generally in the USA
        Artisanal candies, including regional specialities
        Metric cooking measures, so you don't have to translate recipes into American units
        Canned confit de cannard
        Unique/artisanal cordials

        2 Replies
        1. re: therealdoctorlew

          The metric cooking measures are a great idea. I will put it on my list for my next trip.

        2. I realize that your question is directed primarily toward consumables, but I second the suggestion of picking up metric measures. Moreover, if you have a chance to visit Dehillerin, their inventory of cooking equipment and accessories is beyond belief.

          I bought an insanely cheap set of stainless flatware for 12 a few years ago for $130 US, made by Guy Degrenne, which took up very little space in the suitcase. It's almost impossible to walk thru that store without grabbing a whisk or two, a utility knife, whatever, even if it isn't convenient to bring home a copper pan or something larger. Everyone I know who has brought something home from Paris is glad to have done so, because fond memories accompany the items purchased.

          In short, if you have the space and are so inclined, you might enjoy a souvenir or two, food-related or not, in addition to the glorious French mustards, chocolates, butter, herbs, cheeses, and the like. It's a crying shame for the airlines to keep cutting the permissible baggage allowances. Best wishes.

          1. Some of the Christine Ferber preserves of unusual fruits (sold in the Pierre Herme shops) are easy to transport and make nice gifts.


            3 Replies
            1. re: rswatkins

              We brought home her Blood Orange Marmalade and it was wonerful.

              1. re: DaisyM

                Saucissons Secs. In packages in the markets. Really, really good. Nothing like them available in the US. The dry sausage here has much less flavor and variety.

                Also, soap is really interesting (as in L'Occitane) and much cheaper in France.

                You might also try a package of vacuum sealed coffee from the markets. Carte Noire and Maison du Cafe are ubiquitous in that section.

                1. re: menton1

                  <Also, soap is really interesting (as in L'Occitane) and much cheaper in France. >
                  hah... i just returned from nice and soap from l'occitane is more expensive there than here in usa. but artisanal soaps found in open markets can be less expensive and very unique. really nothing is cheap in france anymore. so bring back the unusual, not what you can get at home. we go every year to visit family and have learned that very well