I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my favorite memories of Paris, and what souvenirs might help me remember those moments after we return to Texas. In the French language, the word “souvenir” means both “little gift to remember your trip” and “memory.” That’s so perfect. Souvenirs should be a doorway back to the time you spent somewhere, always reminding you how you felt when you were actually there.
Certainly, the perfect souvenir of Paris would have to be something beautiful, something elegant or artsy, and of course, it would have to be incredibly special. I’ve always been a big fan of the Hermes scarf — or any beautiful scarf, really. Parisians, both men and women, wear scarves everywhere all year long, so they make a great memory of Paris. They’re also lightweight and don’t take up much room in your suitcase, which is a total plus. And you can enjoy them forever.
Jewelry is another wonderful souvenir — a little bit of sparkle to help you remember the City of Light. You can find something classic and elegant or funky and eclectic. Prices run the gamut, everything from high-end platinum and gold, to estate pieces that you can find for a song at the Parisian flea markets.
If you’ve got a little more room in your suitcase, you can always go for a beautiful wallet or even a handbag made by a French designer like Lanvin, Chloé or Chanel. Another French designer, not as well known in the States, but huge here in Paris is Gerard Darel. He designed an adorable BoHo Chic style bag called “the 24-hour bag.” Celebrities back home love it, I’m guessing because it’s almost impossible to find in the States. The bag has as much personality as it does room, and it’s lot of fun to carry around. It’s a beautiful, utterly Parisian souvenir.
Perfume is another great way to remember Paris. And here’s a fun secret that no one ever tells you. Since many perfumes and colognes are fabricated here in France, they are quite often, much less expensive here than in the United States. For example, my favorite perfume is Creed’s “Pure White.” Here in Paris, it costs about half of what it is back home — a perfect excuse to indulge myself. (In fact, I made my husband into a hero, by buying the largest bottle they make, as “his-gift-to-me” for Valentine’s Day!) “Must de Cartier” is another scent I just adore: spicy, dark and rich -with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon. It’s wonderful for a date night.
Every person, male or female, ought to have at least two great perfumes at home that are totally different: one light & fruity for wearing in the heat, and one that’s spicier and more exotic for wearing at night and in cooler months. Collecting a wardrobe though, of six or eight really, great perfumes is a lot of fun. That way you can change them up to suit whatever mood you’re in.
Buy a big bottle of your favorite scent- one you normally wouldn’t get for yourself. Even better, pick out a brand new one — something that you will associate exclusively with your memories of Paris. Find something that is extraordinary, something that reminds you of romance, indulgence and possibility — because those are the things you will remember about Paris.
You can even go to a custom perfumerie and have the atelier there help you create your own unique scent. There are several places in the city that carefully coach you through every stage of designing your own custom perfume. It can be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
A lot of tourists prefer less-formal souvenirs, however, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Paris has lots of great choices for typical knick knacks: special coffee mugs, placemats for the kitchen table, aprons, caps, berets, hoodies and t-shirts. They’re not expensive, and children love them. You can find them at ANY tourist shop in Paris: Montmartre, Quartier Latin, La Defense, even the Champs Élysées.
Personally, when I’m looking for something less formal, I love beautiful, artsy dishtowels for the kitchen. They make a great every day memory of Paris. Not to mention, they’re a terrific, little gift to bring home for friends. You can get gorgeous ones at Galeries Lafayette here. People tend to forget about the dishtowels in their kitchen, ignoring them and letting them grow threadbare and ugly. But when you have a really pretty one, it makes you smile every morning. They’re easy to transport in your luggage, and they are pretty reminders of the places you’ve traveled. I have a drawer full of them from all over the world.
Whatever you choose as your special memory of Paris, be it perfume, a scarf or even a simple coffee mug, make sure that it’s something you treasure. That way, every time you use it, you’ll take a moment to remember your time here…and smile.
Links you might like…
Some of the best perfumeries in Paris http://www.vogue.com/866564/the-best-perfume-stores-in-paris/
Hermes Paris: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187147-d5494753-Reviews-Hermes-Paris_Ile_de_France.html
Guerlain Paris: http://www.guerlain.com/int/en-int/guerlain-explorer/68-champs-elysees-boutique-feel
24 Hour Bag by Gerard Darel: http://www.beausoleilmaroquinerie.fr/sac-porte-main/1407-sac-a-main-24-heures.html#/770-ligne-24_heures/1206-couleur-pasteque