A few readers have asked me if I have any ideas of something a little French-esque to offer the ladies in their lives for the holidays. Indeed, I do!
I’ve discovered a few wonderful products and gift ideas over here, which you can either find at home or order online. (I’ve added the links to the US sites where I could find them.)
If the lady in your life (wife, sister, mom, girlfriend, aunt, mother-in-law, whoever) is anything like me, she’s a fan of creams and good smelling products. Here’s a few I’ve discovered here in France that are worth a peek.
Fresh is a French company that offers a whole series of all-natural, delightfully fragrant beauty products. I have tried and LOVE two, so far. Sugar Lip Treatment Rosé, a mix between a lip gloss and a lipstick which gives the lips a fabulously natural, sumptuously rosy tint. I rarely wear anything else. A perfect stocking stuffer!
Another French brand that I have grown to love is Savon de Marseille. Their soap is just about the oldest and most basic there is in France, and perhaps that’s why I love it so. They offer a whole line of products, but my favorite is definitely Savon de Marseille Oil Olive Original. Their products are made with the same ancient savoir faire as it was in the Middle Ages, and in the mid-1600s the French government specified this particular way of making soap to be the best. If these sorts of things interest you, here’s the history.
A second brand that I love is l’Occitane. Well known in the States and Canada nowadays, l’Occitane has stores almost everywhere. Two exquisite products I recommend are: Their Rose 4 Reines Pearlescent Body Cream and Lavender Hand Cream. I use the first daily (just love it) and offered the latter to my mom few years ago. I was sending her refills by the month until they finally opened a store near her house.
A little something to de-stress in the bathtub is always a thoughtful way to go as a present for a loved lady-friend. I am a big fan of Diptyque candles when I’m soaking after a long day. Add a bottle of Champagne and a few fraises au chocolat fondu (chocolate-covered strawberries) and you have the Frenchman’s secret to a woman’s heart! 😉
Highlight her elegance.
Beautiful, personalized stationery and calling cards are a thoughtful choice. The French are great at sending personal, handwritten correspondence. To some, like me, it is a disappearing art to be resurrected. I love nothing more than to receive a handwritten card or letter, and I try my best to correspond with those close to me in this way. The first gift I ever received from my French mother-in-law was a lovely set of personalized stationery with my initials embossed at the top. I treasure them. French stationary is thick and textured and evokes the feeling of reading a letter from a time long ago.
As for calling cards, this is an European custom that has not lost its prevalence in France. Callings cards are about double the size of our typical business cards. They normally refer to a person or couple and were used for centuries as a message that one stopped by to visit when you weren’t home (before the days of the telephone) or to send a quick note. Calling cards in North America have made a small comeback recently, especially in artsy circles. I received mine from an uncle-in-law as a wedding present and use them all the time. They are perfect for dropping a quick line or for a thank you or a dinner invitation to which I’d like to add a touch of elegance.
As part of this art of handwritten correspondence, a fountain pen is a wonderful compliment to stationary. The French use fountain pens a great deal. In fact, French children learn to write with fountain pens in school. I recently gave one to my baby sister for her 16th birthday and she treasures it. I was given my first as an anniversary present a while back, and now I don’t go anywhere without it.
Accent her panache.
Nothing says French fashion like great accessories. Whether a gold chain belt, a Hermes scarf or a string of Opera length pearls, your lady, again if she’s anything like me, will love the touch of class it adds to her wardrobe.