If a flight to France isn’t in the cards this year, you can still treat your French-loving friends (or yourself!) to some of the essentials on this Francophile-approved wishlist.
We’ve rounded up the perfect items for every type of Francophile, from the foodies to the film buffs and beyond.
The Parisian Wannabee
The first secret to seeming Parisian is: wear sneakers. Don’t be like Emily in Paris, tottering in stilettos down a cobblestone path at your friend’s vineyard in Champagne. If you want to channel true French girl style, you need a pair of VEJA’s. Simple, chic and ultra-comfy, you can throw them on with anything, from jeans and a T-shirt to … jeans a more sultry shirt (another French fashion secret: their wardrobes are really just high-quality jeans and tops). The best part? The brand is a sustainable pioneer in France and has several collections made from eco-friendly materials, like up-cycled plastic bottles, cotton and jute.
VEJA, $105 and up, available at veja-store.com
The range of gifts that would please a Francophile foodie is enorme— from Le Creuset cookware to Le Guerandais sel gris to a good ole baguette, if you’re lucky enough to come by one stateside. To save you from indecision, we’ve narrowed it down to our top two: a subscription to The Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club and a bag of cinnamon croissant cereal from L’Appartement 4F.
The former is about as close as you can get to replicating the soul-shifting delights of discovering new cheeses at a fromagerie in France, with three artisan cheeses shipped directly to your door each month along with tasting notes, cheesemaker histories and pairing suggestions. Choose between the ‘Original Gourmet’ and the ‘Rare’ clubs.
Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club, $41.95 per month, available at cheesemonthclub.com
The latter is a trendy $50 delicacy from the hip new Brooklyn bakery that has Francophiles divided over whether ça vaux le coup (it’s worth it). A true foodie will want to taste them to see for themselves.
L’Appartement 4F Petite Cinnamon Croissant Cereal, $50, available at lappartement4f.com
The Unabashed Cliché Lover
Even the most seasoned Francophile can still be charmed by the trappings of what France looks like to Americans: striped shirts (called marinières, which really are worn all around France) and even a candle shaped like a baguette (just don’t mention the fact that it’s technically made in Italy!). Honestly, why not go all-out with a carb candle collection and throw in these scented Croissant candles as well?
Handmade Italian Baguette Candle, $39.99, available at friendsnyc.com
Reading is critical to learning a new language, and for those looking to improve their French, Olly Richards’ two-part series is a fun and engaging way to absorb new words while following along with the stories. Ideal for beginners and intermediates, each chapter is followed by a brief summary, as well as a list of new vocabulary and a few multiple choice questions to check your comprehension. To get the most out of the books, try reading them aloud to practice pronunciation and to get a sense of your voice in French.
Another great gift for language learners is French lessons. Verbling is an easy-to-navigate online provider where you can choose from native French-speaking instructors who teach at a variety of levels (and thus offer a variety of price points). Private, hourly lessons run $20-30, on average.
Verbling Gift Card, any amount, available at verbling.com
You could fill several libraries with pages of Americans waxing poetic about Paris, but longtime expat Lindsey Tramuta’s books The New Paris and The New Parisienne are in a league of their own for young writers with an affinity for the French capital. Her newest book follows 50 French women — activists, educators, politicians, creatives and more — in a bid to demystify the cliché of the Parisienne, and gives a better glimpse of what the city and its people truly look like.
The Film Buff
Learning a language is one thing; learning a culture is another. French films, documentaries and TV series are key to doing both at the same time, giving glimpses at the way slang is deployed, families are structured and humor is used. There’s also the key difference between “French” and “Hollywood” endings to keep in mind: the French find American happy endings to be incredibly cliché. Theirs tend towards more realistic, or even pessimistic, fins. A subscription to a French-language move hub like France Channel or Cinessance is an inexpensive and easy last-minute gift — think of it as a virtual stocking stuffer.
The Wine Lover
Francophile and oenophile (wine lover) are synonyms, non? With the new Covid-19 variant still spreading, perhaps your stockpile of French wine has also been rapidly diminishing as you doom scroll on social media. We’re taking that as a sign that it’s time to put down our phones and instead, learn a bit more about all that wine. Enter Kevin Zraly, an award-winning wine writer and educator, who offers his expertise in entertaining one-hour online courses for those looking to learn more about how to taste and talk about French (or any type) of wine. The course itself is $50 per household, while the set of four wines that you’ll taste will run you $89.99. Date night, anyone?
Kevin Zraly One-Hour French Red Wine Expert Virtual Class, $140, available at kevinzraly.com
If throwing more dinner parties is also at the top of your 2022 to-do list, an Œuvres Sensibles tablecloth is an excellent place to start. No need to have mastered the art of French cooking — any dinner is sure to be a hit served atop one of these custom-made pieces by artist Sarah Espeute. Her antique linen and cotton-embroidered works will transport your table to the South of France, with cabbages, baguettes, glasses of wine and place settings stitched into the cloth. They’re very nearly too pretty to eat off of.
Œuvres Sensibles Tablecloth, starting at $542, available at oeuvres-sensibles.fr
The Skincare Junkie
It’s nearly impossible to go wrong with any product from Guerlain, one of France’s oldest and most storied perfume and skincare houses. Their award-winning Abeille Royale line is particularly exciting for cult-product lovers: over a decade of research on honey and its restorative properties informed the products, which are dedicated to revitalizing a youthful appearance and minimizing signs of aging. The Advanced Youth Watery Oil will get you glowing in no time this winter with an added boost of hydration. If it’s good enough for Angelina Jolie, it’s good for you too!
Guerlain Advanced Youth Watery Oil, $135, available at guerlain.com
The Provence Princess
Do you sit around daydreaming about the cozy farmhouse or elegant château you’ll surely one day own in Provence? Oui? If so, that vision probably extends itself to the charming sort of entertaining you’ll be doing. Whether you’re envisioning more intimate or lavish spreads, a set of antique cheese knives will be a beautiful addition to any table (and a great way to start manifesting your Provençal parties now). It’s also in your own favor as the Frenchy you are to shop sustainable, and what better way to do so than vintage?
Vintage set of 6 cheese knives, $188.46, available at etsy.com