Holiday Gourmet Gift Guide from Galeries Lafayette
Leah Walker December 17, 2016

One of the best things about traveling in France is discovering all the unique foods, and then eating as much as your pants will allow. Gorging on unpasteurized cheese and saucisson, while washing it down with a shockingly inexpensive carafe of Bordeaux, will inevitably leave you longing again for that gluttonous experience. Although, Americans can’t {legally} fill their suitcases with Camembert and Comté, there are plenty of other French treats that can {and should!} be taken home without any custom troubles.

So many treats. So little luggage space.

If you’re unable to visit all of the Hexagon, the next best option is to stop by Paris’ Galeries Lafayette Gourmet at 35 Boulevard Haussman. With everything from freshly baked éclairs to freshly caught fish, this multi-story temple to food and home is a one-stop shop for many of France’s iconic products. Words to the wise, however, don’t visit on an empty stomach. You’ll likely end up with an empty wallet! The gift of food, especially during the holidays, is always welcomed. So, whether you’re looking for scrumptious souvenirs for family and friends, hostess gifts, or perhaps throwing a French-themed fête of your own, make sure to stock up on plenty of the country’s specialty items before boarding that return flight.

I picked up a wire basket in the home department, making this a divine holiday hostess gift.

Galeries Lafayette recently asked me to create a holiday gourmet gift guide, which would include some of my favorite French food items. The parameters were simple: a 175 budget, made in France, and everything must be legal to take into the United States. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! Some of my favorite things are forbidden to take into America–no cheese, sausage, foie gras, fruits and vegetables, or pâté. It must be noted that some meat products are allowed in hermetically sealed containers, but I’d rather not leave the fate of my pâté in the hands of a temperamental customs agent. So, here is my holiday gourmet gift guide, filled with some of my favorite {and customs-friendly} French food items.

Spreads

Jams are the perfect topping on a traditional baguette.

With so much bread eaten in France, you’d expect there to be plenty of delicious things to smear on top. Butter from Normandy is legendary, but not flight friendly. However, jams from L’Épicurien are just fine. A family-owned producer in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, L’Épicurien jams are not only pretty, but pretty tasty, too. I chose this holiday gift pack of three, which includes Confitiure de Noël, a seasonal flavor with pear, apple, walnuts, raisins, hazelnuts, almonds, and spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Price: 14.50

Green or black olive tapenade is simple and delicious.

Tapenade is a Provençal favorite. Made from puréed green or black olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil, tapenade is perfect for a quick appetizer or snack. Just cut some bread and spoon it on top. Et voilà! I chose a green tapenade from Albert Ménès. Dating to 1921 in Brittany, the brand offers a full range of gourmet items. Price: 4.20

Truffle Everything

What’s your favorite food? My answer: anything with truffle.

When someone asks, “What’s your favorite food?” My answer is “anything with truffle.” I’m seriously considering a part-time job as a truffle hunter, because I know I can give those truffle dogs a run for their money. White or black makes no difference, just load my plate up! Sprinkle truffle salt on popcorn. Spread truffle mustard on a corned beef sandwich. Drizzle truffle oil over fresh pasta. Oh! Imagine my delight when I spotted this gift set from Artisan de la Truffe. Well, just know that I wanted to spend my entire budget on truffle-related items, but somehow found some restraint. Price: 29.90

Sweet Treats

Let your sweet tooth rejoice with these delicious bites.

Originating in 1946 in Quiberon, Brittany, caramels au beurre salé from La Maison d’Armorine are a traditional choice. These caramels are made with salted butter and fleur de sel from Guérande, a town in the Loire-Atlantique department. So simple, yet so satisfying. Price: 3.40

I first was sent Olives de Provence almonds from Francois Doucet in the spring. I loved them then, and snatched a sack off the Galeries Lafayette shelf as soon as they caught my eye. Provençal almonds are first coated with a semi-bitter chocolate, followed by a layer of white chocolate. They are then tinted with green and black, making the almonds look like real olives, another Provençal specialty. Price: 8.80

Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved chocolate-covered cherries. Who am I kidding? I love chocolate-covered anything! Anyway, a French grownup version of my childhood treat from Mademoiselle de Margaux no doubt found its way into my basket. Founded in 1969 in Margaux, a village in the famous Médoc area of Bordeaux, Mademoiselle de Margaux chocolate factory made its mark with guinettes, which are Morello cherries, wrapped in dark chocolate. OK, what’s so grown up about this French version? Just a certain spirit known as Armagnac. I’m a little tipsy just typing this paragraph. Price: 9.90

Drink Up

There’s not a tea from Mariage Frères that I haven’t enjoyed.

Mariage Frères is synonymous with tea in Paris. Founded in 1854 by two royal tea traders, brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage, the company creates the most traditional of teas, but also special editions and holiday teas. I picked up Noël, which is a black tea with sweet spices. Other flavors that caught my eye were Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding, a guilt-free treat, indeed. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the teas from Mariage Frères. Price: 15.50

Such a sinful treat wrapped in an angelic package.

Normally, I avoid anything with a line of tourists, but when it comes to the Angelina Tea Room, I’ll wait. The reason is simple: chocolat chaud dit l’Africain. Should you not know about this diabetes-inducing hot chocolate, it’s made using African cocoa from Niger, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, along with whole milk and a generous dollop of whipped cream. A cup of this is literally a sweet dream. Make your own at home with this dry mix, which is travel friendly and comes in a pretty tin. Price: 19.50

I choose a white and red wine from Sancerre in the Loire Valley.

Leaving France without a bottle or two of wine is an absolute sin. Each person can fly back to the USA with a liter of alcohol duty free. Should you want to bring more, declare it and pay a small tax of $1-2 per bottle. Odds are, it will still be a better value than in America, if you can find it, that is. With that being said, wine is a great gift and the Cave at Galeries Lafayette has a vast selection from all over France. Since visiting the Loire Valley with France Wine Travels this summer, I’ve been gravitating to wines from that region. Both from Sancerre, I chose a Savignon Blanc made by Domaine des Huards, perfect with Christmas season oysters, and a Pinot Noir from Domaine du Pré Semelé, which pairs nicely with roasted pork or steak-frites. Price: 18 {red} and 11 {white}

Even the novice wine lover will appreciate the Galeries Lafayette Cave.

I probably gained five pounds just photographing and writing this post, but it was so worth it. In case you’re interested, I did come in under budget, even including the 29 white wire basket. In fact, the grand total came to 164.60. I suppose I should have picked up a few more boxes of caramels au beurre salé.

Visit the pop-up restaurant Igloo for complimentary oysters with the purchase of a glass of white wine.*

The next time you’re in Paris, make sure to pop into Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, which is now open on Sundays during the holiday season. And if you happen to be visiting in the next few weeks, enjoy six oysters with the purchase of a glass of white wine in the pop up restaurant on the Haussmann Cupola store’s terrace. Until January 5, 2017, bring this voucher* to the Ice Cube Bar for fresh oysters and wine in an unforgettable location. With 360-degree views over Paris, the terrace is one of my favorite vantage points in the city.  Happy holidays and happy shopping!

This post is courtesy of Galeries Lafayette, but all opinions are mine.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

10 Comments

  1. It’s always good to know what you can and can’t bring home with you. Especially when travelling in such a foodie paradise and having a bit of an obsession with picking up the locally made treats. I usually err on the side of caution and end up regretting not having a few ingredients to recreate the flavours with when I get home.

  2. These are some beautiful gifts that would be perfect for my mother! She is very obsessed with gourmet foods such as these. I personally would love to buy some truffle oil for myself. Thank you for the beautifully presented ideas. 🙂

  3. Nothing worse than buying some really nice food products than getting them confiscated by border patrol when you return home! I wish the US would ease their rules, because I would love to bring in some fresh, unpasteurized French cheese, though it would probably stink up my luggage for weeks! I guess for now, I will just have to settle for visiting France and eating my favorite items there!

  4. Loved this gourmet tour! And you are right about leaving Paris without a bottle of wine is a sin! 🙂
    Writing food posts is difficult for me as I tend to keep munching something… do you?

  5. A basket full of food and wine is among my favourite gifts.I love all those spreads and french cheeses especially accompanied by a nice wine! Thanks for your suggestions

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